Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Why Wasn’t *My* Doctor So Perceptive?

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Mrs. Hudson, it certainly looks like little Alexander here has quite a bunch of symptoms. While we doctors usually look for a single cause behind a whole series of symptoms, sometimes that just won’t work. That’s what we’re dealing with here. And Alexander here certainly has unusual symptoms.

So I need to ask both of you a number of questions. Is that OK?

Alexander, what grade are you in? Third? Hmm. That makes you, what, eight? Nine? Uh-huh. What school do you go to? Are there girls in your school? Do you play with them? Every day? When, Alexander? Is it at school, on the school bus, or what? During recess? Is it fun-and-games play, or is it teasing?

OK, Mrs. Hudson, I think we have something here – I’ll explain in a minute. Alexander, tell me about the floors in yours school building. Are they tiled, or smooth? I see. Are there patches where some tiles have clearly been replaced, and the newer ones look different from all the others? Is it hard to avoid stepping on the newer, different tiles? OK, that’s what I thought.

Don’t worry, Mrs. Hudson, we’ll get there soon. I think I’m onto something here. Alexander, are there kids in your class that no one wants to play with? Who? Yes, that is a funny name. Tell me about Dmitri: is he fat? Does he wear thick glasses? Does he read much better than everyone else? Is he really, really good at math? Do his palms sweat a lot? Does he breathe heavily? Is it really funny to watch him try to run?

Do your teachers ever tell you to pair up with Dmitri for some activities? I see. How many times in one week? Does anyone else get paired with Dmitri that often? Have your other classmates noticed? Oh, my. Yes, it can be hard to have your friends make fun of you like that. I’m sorry, I need to ask this: what do they call you?

Mrs. Hudson, my hunch has only gotten stronger. It looks like Alexander has four separate ailments, and he must have picked them up at school. They don’t usually present all at once, which is what threw me off, but it’s still a good bet that Alexander (a) is corroded, (b) is turning into a girl, (c) is contaminated and (d) has cooties – please, don’t be alarmed, Mrs. Hudson. None of these conditions are permanent; as soon as Alexander – or, more accurately, Alexander’s friends – grow a little older, none of these conditions will persist. I’ll explain.

As any third-grader knows, playing with girls gives you cooties. Don’t you remember such a condition from your own school days, Mrs. Hudson? Sure, the causes were different for girls, but some things never really go away. The treatment is simple. A cootie shot works both to treat cooties and prevent their recurrence. Here, Alexander, give me your arm. Circle, circle, dot, dot, now you have the cootie shot. See how easy that was? Immunity lasts for a week, but you don’t need a doctor to administer it; any one of your friends can do it. When I was in second or third grade, one of my buddies and I would give each other cootie shots every morning. We had to do it quickly, before that Poindexter kid got on the bus at the next stop and infected us.

As far as being corroded goes, Alexander, you’ll have to talk to the teacher about mixing up the pairs better. Do you sit next to Dmitri in class, as well? Right, so that might not solve the problem completely; just being near him makes you contaminated. I didn’t need to tell you that. But start by talking to the teacher – and Mrs. Hudson, you can intervene if Alexander’s request doesn’t work. We can work on treating the contamination in other ways.

For one thing, watching sports every weekend gives some measure of protection, but it also helps to be involved in sports yourself: little league, or maybe basketball – no, I’m glad you mentioned that: soccer looks like a sport, but it’s so European that you’ll end up worsening the last ailment, of turning into a girl.

Stepping on the odd tiles at school is what started it in this case. You can counteract the effect by punching the person next to you when you spot a Volkswagen beetle, but those are few and far between these days. So you need to do the next best thing, which is to administer a noogie, wedgie or swirly to the most unpopular kid in the class at the next opportunity. My guess is that means you’ll be spending more time with Dmitri, but you’ll be working on building up your resistance anyway, so that’s no big deal. And these problems don’t tend to occur if one’s classmates don’t start pointing out the causes; that’s why older kids tend not to suffer from these things.

I’d like to see Alexander again in three weeks, Mrs. Hudson. If my diagnoses are correct, and you follow the treatment I’ve laid out, everything should be back to normal. If not, we might need to run some tests, such as checking whether his hand is larger than his face.


Written by Thag

December 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm

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