Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Short History of My Ass


I’m not really sure why, when or how it started. It wasn’t something I did that contributed to it like drinking too much, eating salty foods or not taking showers, even though these things will probably contribute to a future problem. Wait and see. I feel it was more an organic process like losing your hair: it usually takes a decade or so – if you’re lucky - to lose it; therefore, you’re pretty used to your new face when it happens. You just don’t wake up and say, “Ahh, I’m bald.” My problem started as an irritation, moved on to a minor rash, then got nasty and starting hurting like a splinter.

I was poor at the time of the first rash. I was on G.A (General Assistance) and paid $250 to live in my friend’s laundry room. I built a loft, so it wasn’t that bad, but somehow, mice managed to get on my bed and shit everywhere!

At first I thought the rash could be solved with a little lotion. At night, while lying in bed, I would hoist my knees over my head (a move that I still use) and put on any kind of lotion that was around – usually hand lotion. This brought temporary relief, just because it was cool and soft. It did nothing to help the rash.

I made an appointment at Tom Waddell, a clinic run out of a trailer near city hall. It was known as the homeless clinic. I had been there before so I figured I’d be comfortable dropping my drawers for a strange Doctor. Besides, it was a homeless clinic – what abscesses or rashes have they not seen? Disgusting shit is part of their job.

My clinic experience up until then was mostly at the dick clinic on 7th -- a place that specialized in STDs and good stuff like that. I never got out of that place without them sticking a Q-tip up my urethra. It doesn’t hurt as much as you’d think.

My appointment was early on a Tuesday morning. I wasn’t working - or, so to say, I was working for the state – so time and day wasn’t important. I checked in and after answering a few questions - the first one being, "do you have insurance?" - I sat down and waited for my turn. Like I predicted, most of the people waiting with me were homeless. I had noticed a few grocery carts parked outside. Instead of reading Highlights or the paper, I decided to try and make a little conversation.

God gave me two gifts: 1] the ability to recall the time and place of every movie I’ve watched and 2] the ability of bullshit – to find common ground with anybody. For example, if I were stuck in a mineshaft with a Klansman, the conversation would probably go like this:

Me: “Hey, what’s up?

Klan guy: “Nothing. How are you?”

Since he was in the Klan and probably had done some bad things, I doubt that he would inquire about “how I was doing.” But for the story’s sake, let’s pretend that he was one of the “good ones.”

Me: “Fine, thank you. I like your sheets. What thread count are they?”

So, I decided to talk the fella next to me, who obviously had no association with the Klan, I think. I opened: “Hi, how ya doin?” A tried and true classic, guaranteed to work. He raised his eyebrows and said, “Not good, why do you think I’m here?” Fair enough. I wanted to say, “Stop your complaining, cart boy. Check out my ass!”

I sat passively like the rest and waited for my name to be called. So much for a little conversation.

“Greg Kim?”

“That’s me,” I said in a way that hopefully differentiated me from the homeless people. She looked at me as if she knew my slumming type, which she did. There was another one just like me with a 10 am appointment…skateboard in hand.

She led me across the street to the old Public Health building, her DPH I.D. moving from side to side as she walked. She told me to take another seat and wait for my name to be called. I was getting good at waiting.

They called my name and off I went to another corridor of the vast building. A city health worker took me to a room where there was a patient table, a large light and everything you would find in a doctor’s office except this room was about 40’ by 40.’ It looked like an eastern European hospital before the wall came down.

The doctor entered and explained that she worked at a reputable hospitable in the vicinity and donated one day of her time to the clinic. With her credentials exposed, a definite attempt to assuage my worries, she asked if I wouldn’t mind if several interns accompanied her while she examined me. I said, “No problem.” I was used to humiliation.

“So, what seems to be the trouble, Greg?”

She addressed me by name: good training and gives me a sense a familiarity. I liked her.

I said, “I have a rash on my buttocks.” I like to use the formal buttocks instead of the preferred ass when dealing with professionals.

“Well, let’s take a look. Why don’t you take off your pants and hop up onto the table, face first.”

I dropped my drawers and jumped up, my pants scrunched below my knees. She turned on the light and pulled it close, my ass tingling from the heat of the powerful bulb.

“Wow, that must hurt. How long has it been like this?”

I responded, “It hurts, but I’ve grown used to it. I don’t remember when it started: a year, maybe two, maybe more?”

She asked me to get on all fours where she could get a better look. She adjusted the lamp and invited the students to take a closer look. I felt a slight breeze on my ass from the students’ shuffling. A moment like this was a sign to get a job and get insurance. I was butt naked and 16 eyes were zeroed-in on my ass! Do I need more incentive than this?

She poked around with a wooden depressor and asked simple questions like, “Does this hurt?” I answered “yes” to every question.

She turned off the lamp and said I could put on my clothes. I had a fungal problem and she prescribed some lotion that would help. She said I should try to keep it dry, fully toweling off after showers and swimming. She also mentioned that once the swelling went down I should come back to see about the thinning of the skin. Thinning of the skin? What the hell is that?

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