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The Doctor

by Ron Kurtus (9 Jun 1971)

(Patient is sitting in examining room and Doctor walks in, intently studying some sort of chart: Doctor sits down and essentially ignores Patient. After several minutes of silence, the Patient finally speaks up)

PATIENT: Well, Doctor. How do things look?

DOCTOR: Hmm. (slowly shakes his head) Hmmm.

PATIENT: Did everything come out OK in my physical?

DOCTOR: Hmmm. (slowly shakes head, then mutters to himself) Things look bad. Hmmm.

PATIENT: (alarmed) Doctor! What's the matter?

DOCTOR: Hmmm. Just doesn’t look too good. I can't understand it.

PATIENT: (stands up) Tell me Doctor. Is it my liver? I've been trying to cut down on my drinking, but you know how it is - with the job and everything.

(Doctor just slowly shakes his head)

PATIENT: What about my heart? Is that the problem? Is it the heart, Doctor?!

DOCTOR: Hmmm. That might be the answer - to pull out of the whole operation.

PATIENT: Operation? Oh, god, no! (Starts pacing the floor) I didn’t think it was that serious. What should I tell Mary? And my job. What's going to happen with that? Doctor, you've got to tell me how serious it really is. Is it a major operation, or what? Doctor! Doctor! (Shakes doctor's shoulder)

DOCTOR: (awoken froth his concentration on the paper) Good gracious, man! What's gotten into you?

PATIENT: (on the verge of tears) Tell me, Doctor. Tell me the bad news. Tell me what the report says.

DOCTOR: (looks at Patient as if he was crazy) Sure, if you really want to know. According to the quarterly report from the company ..I have stocks in...

PATIENT: What!

DOCTOR: ...there has been a sharp decrease in the value...

PATIENT: Do you mean that here I've been on the verge of going out of my mind with worry, and all that is… is a lousy stock report?!

DOCTOR: I say, you are an excitable fellow. But I will have to admit that it is a lousy report. You must have stock in the company too.

PATIENT: (calming himself with a deep breath) No - I - don't – have stock in your company. Now, what about my physical?

DOCTOR: Oh yes, your physical. (Doctor looks through a pile of papers) Smith, isn’t it?

PATIENT: Yes. Dale. (Sits down again)

DOCTOR: Hmmm. Oh yes. D. Smith. Here it is. (skims report) That's strange. It says here that you're pregnant. Now isn’t that absurd? Ha,ha,ha.

PATIENT: (puts hand to head) Oh boy:

DOCTOR: Oh, now I remember. That's for Doris Smith. Nice looking girl, too. And you should see where she has a beauty mark. Woowee! Ha, ha, ha.

PATIENT: What about me?

DOCTOR: You got a beauty mark too?

PATIENT: My physical, please. Mr. Dale Smith.

DOCTOR: Ah, yes. Here we are. (Skims over report) This is very interesting, Mr. Smith. Yes, very interesting.

PATIENT: What does it say?

DOCTOR: First of all, it says that the bill for the examination will be $25.

PATIENT: OK, that's fine. I'll mail you a check. Now what does the report say about my condition?

DOCTOR: (pulling paper away from patient) Ta, ta, ta. Not so fast. This is a real interesting one, but I always like to see the green of the money before I tell my patients what is what. Of course, you don't have to pay in cash. I will accept checks, money orders, and Visa.

PATIENT: That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. You can bill me later and I'll pay you at the end of the month, when I pay all my bills.

DOCTOR: (reading report) Ah, this makes such interesting reading. It's too bad that you don't care to see it.

PATIENT: Damn it, Doctor! I'd go see another physician if I wasn’t so pressed for time. How much do I owe you?

DOCTOR: 25 U.S. dollars.

(Smith writes out a check)

PATIENT: There! Now what’s in the report?

DOCTOR: (reading) First of all, you've got to give up smoking.

PATIENT: But I've never smoked in my life.

DOCTOR: In that case, you've got to start smoking. Two or three packs a day. What you need is a great change in your way of life. Do everything different. Drink coffee? Start drinking tea. Get up early? Start getting up late. The whole routine must be changed. You've got what we call in the medical profession, a severe case of “metabolistic boredom”.

PATIENT: Are you putting me on?

DOCTOR: Do I look like the type of person who would put you on? Don't answer that. I'm just telling you the medical facts. You want to be healthy, don't you?

PATIENT: Yes.

D; You want to live to a ripe old age, don't you?

PATIENT: Yes, I do.

DOCTOR: You want to get the most out of life, don't you?!

PATIENT: Yes, yes!

DOCTOR: (standing up) You want to have a better sex life, don't you?! PATIENT: (standing up, also) Yes, yes, yes!

DOCTOR: (sitting down) Well so would I. It's a shame we can't have all those things.

PATIENT: (sitting down) I think that I've had just about enough of this nonsense.

DOCTOR: (disappointed) You can't be serious?

PATIENT: I've never been more serious in my life. That's it!

DOCTOR: But wait. Let me tell you about this patient I had this morning. He was so fat, and I made an utter fool out of him. Had him wait for me in the lobby, completely naked. You should have seen the expression...

PATIENT: That's all for today. Your time's up.

DOCTOR: But there was so much I wanted to tell you.

PATIENT: You can tell me some more tomorrow, at your next appointment.

DOCTOR: Dr Smith, do you think this therapy is doing me any good?

PATIENT: Yes, you're coming along fine.

END