On Digital Rectal Exams

Tue Oct 29 2002 01:19PM -0600

Currently activating my medial geniculate nucleus: the album "Luxury" by Fantastic Plastic Machine. (Perhaps this might explain my current demented mood.)

As usual, at times like this, my mind flees to toilet humor.

But first, a prologue:

Maybe it's simply because I have been in Cook County Hospital's Emergency Department for four weeks and have become utterly attuned to these sorts of things, but have you ever thought about all the annoying little beeping sounds that permeate our digital world? OK, I don't know, like when you leave your keys in your car and leave the door open. Alarm clocks. Garbage trucks in reverse. Walk/Don't Walk signs with audio cues for the blind. And of course, cel phone ringers. But I'll get to that in a moment.

So here I am standing in Burger King waiting for my Croissanwich when I hear one of the monitors emit this pattern of beeps (No, I am not going to hunt for a sound file. Yes, I was tempted to.) that sounds exactly like the pattern of beeps the monitors in the operating rooms of one of the hospitals I've worked at make when the patient's blood pressure exceeds a certain threshold. Another example of med school's indelible mark on my psyche.

And then I decide to take a leak, and from the stall to my right come these beeps and buzzes that remind me of those really old handheld LCD games. (OK, OK, I'll look for a sound file. Someday.) I surmised (but refused to confirm) that the guy in the stall busy defecating was also SMSing someone through his cel phone. (How about that for a reason to think twice before borrowing someone else's cel?) Which I suppose is an improvement over a conversation like this that I overheard at the Glendale Galleria as I washed my hands at the sink. (I am paraphrasing liberally, but I am not making this up.):

Guy in Stall: Are you really sure you want to meet there?

(Other end of conversation is inaudible since Guy-in-Stall is talking to someone on his cel phone)

Guy in Stall: Yeah, I'm with the other guys.

Guy in Stall: <painful groan associated with various splashing noises and sounds of turbulent airflow through a flaccid anal sphincter>

Guy in Stall: I'm taking a shit, just hold up a minute.

Guy in Stall: <more painful groaning with a few "Oh God!"'s interspersed ad lib>

I'm telling you, maybe think three times before you borrow someone else's cel phone. I also remember one time after arriving at O'Hare, I walked to the bathroom to take a leak, and there was this guy in a suit and tie next to me also emptying his bladder, and apparently he was busy closing a business deal. (That seems like some sort of archetypal image: cel phone held to ear in one hand, penis in the other. OK, I'm just a sick bastard.)

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