“So, Joseph, you don’t want kids?”
I was thrown off. Not by the question, but from being called by my given name. It was a title reminding me of those visits to the doctor as a child.
Scared? I was. Not so much of shots. Or the “snapping” back of my multiple, re-adjusted broken arms. Or the revelation of needing three days in a hospital bubble after a severe asthma attack. Instead, I was scared of the doctor’s request to “please pull down your pants.”
This directive did, and still does, commit my body to a sort of suspended animation.
The fear of being exposed to the elements in front of a stranger. Do I have something less? Might I have something more? Am I deformed?
I knew it was coming.
“I don’t. No. Definitely not,” I responded.
“Do you like kids?” The doctor asked.
“I just don’t like the thought of having my own.”
In fact I do like kids. I like the idea of nurturing. The act of protection. The thought of having an unconditional best friend. I get it. But could I ever break away from a personal cultivation of selfishness?
“Yea, they’re a lot of work,” the doctor interjected. “I sometimes feel I’ve put a lot in and haven’t really gotten much out.”
Speechless, I nodded in recognition.
Was this his attempt at consolation? Was it an expression of empathy towards my decision? Or was it a scare tactic, a safeguard against a last minute change of heart. Of me as potential escapee?
“How long have you felt this way?” He asked.
As I Reminisced, events re-surfaced of my brother and me. He, creating a muriatic acid bomb, setting it off in our backyard and blaming the neighbors. Me, breaking a glass bottle and pushing him onto it. He, shattering a lamp over my head while my mother lost her patience, continuously lost her temper, and at some points, most definitely lost her mind.
The thought of being my parents frightened me. Each of them a referee to the mental and physical collisions of kid chaos.
“A really long time,” I answered.
“Ok, good. You do understand that a reversal is very expensive?”
“I do, absolutely,” I confirmed.
“Just wanted to make sure you were aware of that. It’s just procedure.
In that case, are you ready?”
Once again, I nodded. My eyes fixated on his clip board. His hand furiously scribbling down the page. And with a final, spastic motion of his wrist, justifying nothing short of a signature, he was done. My time had come.
“Go ahead and stand on the stool at the foot of the bed.”
Standing up, I walked slowly to the edge of the operating table. Windows rose from floor to ceiling over looking a major intersection. From above, the sun beat down through the glass. Sweating, I propped myself up onto the stool and looked down upon the afternoon gridlock. Below, each driver, as miserable as I, cooked in the summer heat.
“OK, then. Go ahead and pull your pants down.”
The doctor, a sorcerer of suppressed emotions.
His request, conjuring fear from the depths of my childhood.
But I had gotten this far. And I realized that in fifteen minutes, this minor surgery would be over. My limbs loosened, a warmth welled up, and I was enveloped by a feeling of transcendence.
I Grabbed my belt buckle. Unhooking it, I quickly dropped my pants.
I felt the chill of the doctors sterile, rubber gloves.
I felt a tug.
“This will hurt a bit,” the doctor warned in monotone, “but just for a second.”