9 Mar

The drops were thick, but falling few, giving me a false impression that I could walk around the rain if I were anything like lucky or athletic. In my left hand was a piece of black nylon and in the right a spindly spidery aluminum telescoping device, the two having once been one when I purchased it a day ago under the aegis of “umbrella.” By the time I arrived at 20 East 66th Street, I was soaking wet.

This address is a 14-story building largely composed of doctors’ suites. As a matter of fact, two completely unrelated physicians of mine have this address. I had arrived to see one of them. The lobby was full of the ill, the queasy and impatient patients waiting for the one elevator. I passed them all to head to a shiny marble wall where I hoped to get a good enough glance at my reflection to view the calamity nature had visited upon my appearance. On my way there, a woman grabbed me by the arm and said, “Hey!”

Had the next conversation not taken place, I would reveal her name. But if there’s a patient-patient privilege, I’ll defer to that. Suffice it to say we are acquaintances, colleagues, and I find her kind-hearted, charming, and lovely. I greeted her and kissed her on both cheeks–a “French kiss” as my mother was told by the Sisters of St. Joseph in high school–and noticed, just barely enough, a recoil on her end. Moron. Kissing people on a raw, rainy day in the lobby under sixty doctors.

“I’m not contagious!” I blurted out, overcompensating. “I’m here to see my dermatologist.”

And then I made such an uncharacteristic social blunder that I am the subject of this unlikely story. I asked her, “And why are you here?” Her recoil was much more perceptible this time. I had just asked a woman in a lobby full of fifteen people what she was up to upstairs in the rooms where unspeakable things happen to vulnerable people in the most compromising positions. To her credit, or possibly because she fell down the rabbit hole right along with me, she actually answered.

“Oh, I’m just here for a little electrolysis.”

To keep myself from laughing, as I found this particularly hilarious, and to keep myself from scanning her face for things that shouldn’t be there, I looked down at my wet feet, pathetic, and, without a beat, took the conversation to the ultimate level of indiscretion:

“I HAVE A SKIN TAG ON MY LEFT NIPPLE AND THE DOCTOR IS GOING TO SLICE IT OFF,” I heard myself shouting like a lunatic, the words tumbling out of my throat and all over themselves before I could shove them back down my gullet. That got the lobby’s attention. And when the elevator opened, I noticed several people who had been waiting there before I even arrived, yielded their turn on the packed car to the furry menopausal and the leper with Tourette’s.

Electrolysis apparently takes place on the third floor, and nipplectomies, the tenth, so we parted ways with pleasantries as though the past seven minutes never happened or were part of the normal discourse of any dreary day. Isn’t this weather awful? Yes, and my hemorrhoids always act up when a low pressure system like this passes through. Oh, have you ever tried a sitz bath? You know, that sort of thing.

I’m home now, dry and under a blanket. My shoes are by the radiator. About an hour ago, the Novocaine wore off. Why do men have nipples is indeed a valid question. And why my left one currently feels like it is on fire is a more pressing one, except that this excruciating pain might remind me to mind my Ps and Qs and Tits the next time I’m in the position of waiting around to have a part of me segregated from myself.


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