on the drive to the doctor's office:
"So what would you say if I spent some money and fixed the dent on Dad's truck?"
"But we've never fixed the dents on the van."
"Well, it's a different proposition when you've put the dents in yourself."
"I didn't put those dents in. It was Burly Tattooed Good Sam who popped in the back of the van."
"Because you drove out and got stuck on the beach."
"So, am I in the doghouse if I take the truck into a body shop?"
"You realize that truck has blown a lifetime of karma. We can never hold our heads up as enviro-wannabes now."
"Well, that would be a tragedy."
in the waiting room:
"It's about Budapest - sounds like my kind of place - thermal baths, Art Nouveau, famous little cakes - you want me to read it out loud to you?"
"You want to talk?"
"You want to just stew?"
"I want to just stew."
"Do you want me to put my book away and stew with you? Because I'm just reading this to distract myself."
"Read your book."
Fritz shifts in his seat. Then, "I don't know that anyone would CHOOSE to go into urology, you know? Maybe fall into it as a good opportunity . . . Now nephrology, I think that would be fascinating. But urology? I would think that's got to be one of the more unpleasant branches of medicine. Seriously, how many kids grow up wanting to be a urologist?"
"True . . . except . . . considering the kind of jokes kids like best maybe quite a few have . . . a natural bent for it?" We giggle behind our hands, whispering so the receptionist can't hear us. "Maybe the urology classes are just the funniest in the program - I mean, think of the joke-material."
Fritz considers, "And there could be quite a bit of overlap between nephrology and urology."
"So what IS the difference between a urologist and a nephrologist?"
"I don't know."
"I guess that will have to be one of my litany of questions."
"Do you have a litany of questions?"
"I do. And what's the difference between a proctologist and a urologist? Is one a specialty within a specialty?"
"I don't know."
"So I'll have to ask that, too. . . . Anyway, they're usually proctology jokes."
"Yeah, like do you know the difference between a mathematician and a proctologist?"
"Uh . . . no. And don't tell me."
in the examining room:
The nurse looks strangely at me, "We don't usually have anybody in here when the doctor does biopsy. Were you planning to stay?"
"I wouldn't mind staying."
"We've actually never had anyone WANT to be in here. During."
"Well," says Fritz, "we'll do whatever has to be."
"Well, I'll tell the doctor you're ready. And," as she pulls the curtain, opens the door into the hallway, "check what he says about staying."
Fritz surveys the room and the layout of medical equipment. "Looks like he'll be having me lie this way, with my face towards this chair."
"You want me to sit there?"
"I can tell them I'm your guardian and have to be in here with you."
"I'll tell them you're my attorney."
with the doctor:
"I could answer that and spend an hour and a half, but until I have the lab report I can't tell you anything really. All the numbers would just be confusing. 75% of people who come in for a biopsy have nothing wrong with them. You're young, you're healthy - you have cancer it's going to be early stages and easy to treat."
The doctor says this two or three times in slightly different versions.
Everytime he says "you have cancer" my stomach gives a weird little lurch.
"Biopsy results?" asks Fritz
"Within a week."
"Will we know if there's a tumor if it's metastasized? And how would we know?"
"It's just a waiting game. We won't know it's metastasized from the biopsy."
"So what exactly then does the biopsy show?"
"We take 12 cores, count how many have cancer. We look at how the cells look. If there's cancer they lose their differentiated shape and stop looking like prostate cells."
"Treatments? Potential procedures?"
"Same as I said before, if you have cancer, we'll have another consultation. We'll take an hour and a half and discuss at that point what's necessary."
This goes on. Fritz angles for information. The doctor dances away from giving out percentages, probabilities, urges Fritz just wait for results, not make himself anxious over treatments and side-effects until he knows what he has to deal with.
"Well, I'll tell you - I WILL keep reading about it. That's just the way I do things," Fritz explains.
As for me staying, the doctor is curt: "I feel more comfortable working without family members present."
"Okay," I say. To Fritz,"You'll be all right."
"Okay," says Fritz.
"Any other questions?" the doctor asks Fritz as I rise to my feet.
"Yeah, what's the difference between a nephrologist, a urologist, and a proctologist?"
"Is this a joke?"
"Nope. Not at all. I really want to know."
"It just sounds like it would be a really great joke," says the doctor.
walking out from the elevator :
"So I found out how he got into urology."
"You didn't really ask him that?"
"Of course I did. He said he wasn't sure at first if he shouldn't stick with his paper route . . . "
"So it's just the money?"
"Yeah, but he said there's a lot of interest as a surgeon. You always have something different coming up and the surgery itself is quite intricate. So many different systems."
I'm thinking that if Fritz were ever to come back from the dead it would be to ask the mortician's opinion of embalming fluid and how exactly do you go about preparing the body? . . .
"Well, that makes sense," I say.
"Yeah, but he still didn't make it sound as fascinating as nephrology."
in the parking garage:
"You know, I really love that truck. Have you heard how the engine goes - ner-ner-ner-ner - ?
"So there's the sun and it radiates all these waves of energy out into space . . ."
"Are you really making an argument for your truck by calling on the sun?"
"I just don't think I need to worry about the small amount of energy I use when the sun throws out minute by minute into the vastness of space . . . "
"Well, I'm not going to argue with you today."
"Oh, today! And I'm not arguing. I'm just saying that there is a plentitude of energy in this universe and I really don't think my paltry little use is going to tip the balance."
"Unless you keep on and then I may be provoked beyond my power to resist."
"So -- Siam?"
And when we get there: "Do you think the food is really better here or do they just have better decor?"
"Could be the decor."
"I think so. All the gildy statues and the eaves and carved wood. But the food is good, too."
"Mm-hm. So what are you going to have?"
"I think I'll have seafood with basil in a young coconut - that sounds celebratory, doesn't it? How about you?"
"You know," he says.
"Your golden cashew?"
"You know it."
"Do you think we'll ever go to Thailand?" I ask him.
"Do you want to?"
"I want to go everywhere. What about you?"
"Yeah, I do. Everywhere."