May 01, 2010

Nuts for the Soul

Telling another man’s story is like chewing your bacon with another man’s teeth – still kinda salty, but a lot of the good bits get lost among the gaps and fillings if they’re not yours. However, a good piece of bacon has to be chewed and in an effort to maximize embarrassment I am willing to give it my best shot!

In keeping with my self-established poetic ethic, I will make the utmost effort not to disclose the true identity of the innocent, yet unfortunate, Pastor Bob who relayed his painful event to me….. oops.

It seems that Pastor Bob and his lovely wife, Mrs Pastor Bob, had decided that should they ever stand a chance of having something resembling a normal life again, after raising two little angels with pigtails and Barbies to a point where they brush their own teeth, someone was going to volunteer for some surgery. And I’m not talking about the good type where you go in 30A and come out 32D – Pastor Bob feels this won’t go well with his ears – no, I’m talking about “the Big Snip”.

As with all good and strong marriages, the topic came up. As with all good and strong marriages the point was debated in a mature and responsible fashion. As with all good and strong marriages, in two seconds flat, Pastor Bob (or “Bob” as his wife affectionately calls him) had unwittingly volunteered for the procedure as there was “no way in hell that I will be doing that! Not after what you and your “little friend” put me through to bring those two little (angels) into this world! Your time has come buster – suck it up and take it like a man!”

Of course, being the wonderful wife she is, Mrs Bob said this in such a way that Pastor Bob almost felt as though he had made the decision himself. So being Pastor Bob, the man of the house, a man in charge of his own destiny, he knew resistance was futile.

Two days later Pastor Bob found himself at the Urologist to gather more information and discuss one or two of the finer points his friend Google just couldn’t clarify in a satisfactory fashion. It seems however that before Pastor Bob had the opportunity to inform the Urologist of these one or two finer points, he had his trousers around his ankles and a Urologist in a rubber glove giving him a kinda dingleberry recce that rivaled anything of a similar nature he had experienced in 10 years of marriage.
“I’ve never in my life felt like having a cigarette, until then!” he confessed to me.

The scrotal exam done, and Pastor Bob having taken a few deep breaths, our doctor friend was slightly concerned about a lump he had felt. Pastor Bob felt it too, but he was almost sure the doctor never touched his throat.

He was given a scribbled note and told to go for a scan, a few floors up in the same building – which was a good thing, because the building was quite far from home and far from any of his parishioners.

“Pastor Bob, how nice to see you here!” The building was clearly not far away enough.

Any man in his situation would be mildly uncomfortable. Pastor Bob at least was used to chatting to ladies about delicate problems and awkward situations – he had experience on his side. The receptionist at the Radiologist however was no lady. She was the blonde-locked, blue eyed, curvaceous, vivacious, twenty-something daughter of a couple he had dealt with at the church… of course, she had to be. Pastor Bob sucked in his gut, contracted amnesia, and immediately lost the scribbled note.

“How can I help you today Pastor Bob?” she asked, her voice laced with honey and traces of vanilla.
“Oh, I’ve come to have my picture taken, I guess. Say, I didn’t know you worked here?”
“Only mornings. You have a note?”
“No, but I’m going to get one – will be back after two. Lovely seeing you again. Bye now.”

Nobody has time on their hands. However, if you have to kill an hour or two in order to stand on that pulpit Sunday after Sunday without blushing scarlet every single time your eye catches the blonde-locked beauty in the fifth pew, it’s justified homicide.

It is therefore a much more confident and bashful Pastor Bob that ascends the stairs to the Radiologists at 14:15.

“Hi Pastor Bob, glad to see you back – you got that note for me now?”
“I thought you only worked mornings?” he said, unwillingly handing over the scribbled and crumpled note.
“Oh, my colleague phoned in sick so I took over her shift.”
“&^%#*$^ disease!!”
“What’s that Pastor Bob?”
“Nothing dear. Religious talk, you know? Just praying she gets better soon.”
“How sweet!”

She scrutinised the note closely. She frowned and looked even closer. Pastor Bob’s spirit rose… well, it kinda peeked hopefully from under a blanket of apprehension: he knew it was impossible for a mere mortal to decipher the scribble on that note – it was basically two straight lines with a loopy bit at the beginning and a dot above the first line, about two-thirds down. He was hanging on to that. He could get out of here with his dignity intact. Then tonight he could check Google for flights to Argenti….

“Scrotal Scan!” she exclaimed triumphantly. “You’re here for a scrotal scan.”
“Yes, this ‘a’ here almost looks like an ‘o’ but it definitely says Scrotal scan.”

At this point Pastor Bob realized how suddenly quiet the big, and slightly overcrowded waiting room had become. Finding a chair wasn’t easy. Not finding a gaping hole into which he could disappear forever was a knock to his faith.

Fortunately this embarrassment wasn’t made to last very long. He was soon escorted to a cubicle in the back where he was given a flimsy T-shirt and told to strip down – completely! Now any man will tell you: being given a T-shirt to “cover up” is like being given a new Mustang Convertible for your birthday… without an engine – a nice gesture, but a gesture at most. But Pastor Bob accepted graciously.

It got drafty. He felt lonely. He was sure they’d forgotten about him. So he went looking for someone. Slowly venturing from his safe but secluded haven, he pulled down hard at the seams of that shirt, with both hands – front and back.

“Can I help Pastor Bob?” a honey-vanilla voice piped.
“You again? I thought you worked at reception?”
“Tea break. Cookie?”

Now anybody who knows Pastor Bob the way I know him knows he will sell our momma for a cookie.

“Ooh, chocolate chip – don’t mind if I do.”

He took the cookie and bit into it with gusto, which was slightly unfortunate. It meant he’d let go of the front seam which popped up as the tension on the back seam doubled. Honey-vanilla froze. Pastor Bob however reacted exactly as I expected: “The secret to making a good chocolate-chip cookie lies in selecting the best chocolate buttons. Whoever made this is a genius. Excellent cookie…” He turned and walked back to his cubicle, happily munching the cookie, letting go the back of the shirt to pick out a particularly creamy chocolate chip, blissfully unaware of the psychological chaos that erupted under those blonde locks. He left her stunned, with her tea, and her amended view of the Pulpit Pilot her family admired so much.

With a few crumbs on his lips and a chocolate smudge on his chin he was eventually summoned by an attractive, but different lady who took him through to an X-ray booth “for his exam.” Remembering his earlier exam with the Urologist, he started smiling a sheepish schoolboy smile – complete with rosy cheeks. He did get slightly concerned when she produced a bottle of petroleum jelly from under the counter...
“All in the name of medical science, eh?” he justified. “Bombs away!”

This girl was mean. No exam. She just perched, twisted, and maneuvered him into a position similar to riding a horse – upside down – with the T-shirt crawling up to about chest height. And not a cookie in sight. There she left him, hanging, excusing herself with a curt “the doctor will be with you shortly.”

And he was.

“Hiya Pastor Bob, nice to see you.”

“What the …?! Like this? It’s nice to see me like this? Lying naked, arms and legs in the air, straddling an imaginary upside-down horse? Oich, Sundays are going to be hard.” Of course this is what he thought in his head.
What he actually said was: “And you Stan. My goodness, when you said you were a radiologist I thought you meant one of those guys with the two-way radio things and the big aerial, ha-ha. How’s the wife?”

Pastor Bob got a dollop of cold jelly on his dingleberries and a scan from his friend Stan, and we’re happy to report that all seems well.

What followed might have seemed odd – on any other day. Given however what had thus far transpired, Pastor Bob took it in his stride and followed through in, what seems to me, the most appropriate ending to a very eventful day: just when he thought the end was in sight, just when he thought he’d had enough, at the exact moment when he felt he could really do with his pants, Dr Stan had a question… of a spiritual nature. One he probably couldn’t discuss at church. A question he had pondered over, lying awake at night, searching for answers…

And so began possibly the longest and deepest spiritual voyage ever undertaken in an X-ray booth by a man in search of truth and guidance, with his Spiritual leader beside him wearing nothing but a stretched little t-shirt and a convivial smile.

“Just another day in the ‘works in mysterious ways’ business then, eh Pastor Bob?” I remarked after hearing his story, drying the tears from my cheeks.

“Eish,” he replied, “I’ve always known He has a sense of humor. I just so wish I don’t always have to be the butt-end of it!”