Could anyone be drunk and at a doctor's appointment at 8:00 am? He arrived in the plastic surgeon’s office where I was waiting with five other patients.
Don’t get excited at the mention of plastic surgery. I was at the office because apparently plastic surgeons are the only doctors who can inject the palms of my hands with cortisone to unlock fingers that aren’t flexing normally.
The intoxicated man didn’t take a chair. He moved from lounging across the reception counter to wandering the small space, full of good humour. When the clerk asked for his health card he responded, “I don’ need a health card – I’m not sick. Heh, heh.”
The rest of us, all women, couldn’t avoid hearing him as we carefully avoided eye contact. He searched the table of magazines and said jovially,
“What am I supposed to read? No 'Playboys'? Heh, heh”
The silence was heavy.
“When we used to go to barbers for only men there’d be 'Playboy' magazines – guys would stay there for long time, eh? Heh, heh.”
“The good old days, when men were men and women were women, eh?”
My mind filled with scorn at his words and behaviour. Should I bother educating him about “the good old days” for women? Nah. He’s not worth it.
When the receptionist finally escorted me to a treatment room, she and I exchanged eye-rolls and I wished her luck in managing the troublemaker.
As I waited … and waited… for the doctor, I heard the man still trying to get a friendly laugh from somebody. He asked the receptionist, “So is the surgeon plastic?” and tried to explain his joke, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the plastic surgeon was made out of plastic?”
Sitting alone in the other room, I realised that with no compassion at all I’d recoiled from this poor man. I’d seen him immediately as one of my “enemies” (drunk, sexist jerk) and then ignored, yet again, Christ’s revolutionary command to love every one. I could have appreciated his good mood. I could have been kinder instead of acting as if he didn’t exist. We weren't on a street corner; it wouldn’t have been dangerous or demanding to carry on a conversation with him when he was trying so hard to be congenial.
As I continued to pass time in the small examining room I gazed at the posters and available brochures. Ugh. Every single one in the rack or framed on a wall was advertising a drug corporation. Every single one showed a photo of a beautiful woman. Without words, they lied, “This could be you if you asked your doctor to use our products. You could have longer eye lashes, fewer wrinkles, perfect breasts and [according to one brochure] smaller labia [what?].”
Although I know that plastic surgeons do some admirable and essential work like reconstruction after accidents or disease and my own hand injections, it was creepy to see that the male doctor I was waiting for had chosen to decorate his examining room with examples of a cultural delusion. Female bodies are never good enough. Talk about making a deal with the devil. What do these drug companies give him in return?
Another question came to mind.
How much difference was there really between “Playboy” patient and the wealthy doctor who makes part of his income by re-sculpturing healthy female bodies for unhealthy reasons.
I saw some unconscious insight in the silly question, “And the surgeon? Is he real or made out of plastic?”
P.S. Later, in my final proofread of this post, another thought popped up. If I’m thinking critical thoughts about sexist drunks and doctors, how much of my Christian faith is real and how much is plastic?