A little stick, a little sting and a little burn

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2009

She might as well have been my server at Olive Garden.

“Hi, Mr. Roberts, I’m Kristi and I’ll be your server today.” There was only one problem. I wasn’t at Olive Garden. I was at the dermatologist.

As a fair-skinned fellow, I have to be careful when it comes to exposure to that big old bright ball that brings the daylight. When it comes to the sun, I need to have an umbrella above my sombrero, in addition to the asbestos suit and the SPF 800.

Email newsletter signup

Unfortunately, sun damage starts early in life and growing up on the farm with all of that field work has not proved to be beneficial. In addition, I worked for many years on the Gulf Coast of Florida as a sales representative for a resort. Looking like Casper the Ghost wasn’t the greatest advertisement, so I did my best to be George Hamilton, the actor, who is better known for his super tan than his acting.

I never did get a great tan, but I did add to the solid foundation I had begun earlier in life for the transfer of revenue from my bank account to the Dermatological Association of America.

So Kristi introduces herself as my nurse for the day at the dermatologist. I’m going to have a complete body scan. After the body scan, the dermatologist will take care of any little suspicious areas. Kristi instructs me to take off my shirt and have a seat. The doctor will be in shortly.

I mentioned last week that hospital time is different from regular time. Same with doctors. Shortly does not mean in just a few chronological minutes. Shortly is their way of saying, “It could be five minutes, it could be in the next millennium.” Meanwhile, just make yourself comfortable with your shirt off in a room in which meat could be hung.

Thankfully, the doctor comes in shortly (for real). He does act a little winded, however. I think it is because I am the 18th body scan he’s made in the last 30 minutes. Insurance, you know. The more you see, the more you make. He’s a nice doctor, and I have seen him before, about three years ago. But he’s all business.

After the scan, he makes a few marks, speaks into a recorder for my file, and gives a few instructions to Kristi. She leaves the room and returns, again, the very picture of hospitality. She begins to speak euphemistically.

Euphemisms (you’–fa-mizms) are those little phrases that make things sound a whole lot better than what they actually are. For instance, the Great Depression of the 1930s was just a “little downturn in the economy.” It would be like saying that today’s economy is presenting a “few problems” for some. Hurricane Katrina was “just a strong breeze,” euphemistically speaking.

There is another euphemism that deals, specifically, with the medical profession. It’s called minor surgery. What’s that all about? Surgery is surgery and there ain’t no such thing as minor surgery when it comes to me. Now, you might have minor surgery, but not me. Anything done to this body of mine is major!

“Mr. Roberts,” Kristi begins, “What is your birth date?”

Here’s some advice. When in the hospital or doctor’s office, don’t answer that question. Nothing good happens after you give them the correct date of birth. It’s a ruse. The question is intended to confuse.

I guess the chill of the room and Kristi’s congeniality fooled me for a second and I actually gave the right birth date. A gleeful look came over her face as if she was thinking “I’ve got you now.” She put down a tray of utensils that included something with a long, long needle.

“You’re going to feel a little stick, a little sting, and, then a little burn,” she said. Everything was little. How bad could that be? But wait a minute!

What is the definition of a stick?

Not the little piece of wood, but the other kind of stick. It’s a puncture or penetration by a sharp instrument. Can that ever be good, even if it’s “little?” The only kind of stick that would be acceptable to me would be the kind I cannot feel and Kristi already told me I would feel a little stick. Ouch!

What about a sting? She said there would be a little sting. I’m thinking hornets, wasps, yellow jackets. Ever had a little hornet sting? What is that all about, Kristi? I don’t want a sting, even if it is little!

And, then, a little burn? Is that a red, hot coal little burn? Are you going to use real fire, perhaps a little fire for a little burn? All I wanted was a body scan. All I tried to do was put a little color to my white skin. Is this God’s way of getting me back for saying that bad word when I was eight?

As it turned out Kristi was right. All of those nightmarish things were sort of little. She stuck me, it stung, and then I was burned with some kind of cold air. A side of my face was numb for a few hours and, hopefully, the doctor saw everything and got it.

Plus, I think I’m through trying to look like some kind of bronze god. I’ll be satisfied with fair skin and I won’t care if others around me have to use sunglasses because of my white legs. But I did learn something. The next time Kristi asks me my birth date, it’ll be a cold day down there before I give it to her!