Today we are gathered to mourn the loss of Huggy, the toe wart.
I knew Huggy. As toe warts go, he was a good egg. So much more than just a fair-weather companion to Thomas, he was one of the family. A bulbous analogy of the human condition, he shared our tears and our laughter. Our good times and bad. Never judging, always supportive in that special "Huggy" way. No, that gigantic wad of thick, bubbly, semi-translucent skin didn't ... COULDN'T show the true depth of him. As the foot doctor would suggest in Huggy's last hours, "Jesus, that thing's like a snowman. You see how big it is on the surface? It's about twice that size under the skin. I'm gonna need a stronger laser."
Stronger laser, indeed. Would that Huggy's caretakers had possessed stronger child handling skills, too, as Thomas was -- how should we say -- less than gently treated? For instance, you probably don't want to tell a young boy who's already scared that you're going to need more electricity to burn a piece of his toe off. I mean seriously, people, this can't have been the first child you've ever encountered, right? You were, after all, recommended by our pediatrician who is good with kids.
And so, if I may, a few suggestions to you on pediatric practice management beginning thus: Did it ever occur to you that you may want to downplay the ominousness of the whole affair? For instance, I'm no Albert Epstein but even I know you don't tell a kid "this is gonna hurt a lot" and then ask him to stick his foot through a black curtain. Hey, if I lead you into a room with a bunch of surgical instruments, then tell you I'm going to hurt you and please stick your wiener through this hole so you can't see what's about to happen to it, would you do it? Could you do it without your blood pressure reaching dangerously high levels? And then would you hand me a $30 co-pay when it was all done, because if your answer is yes, I'm totally in the wrong business. Except that, irony of ironies, I wouldn't have wanted you to stick your wiener through a hole until now after you scared the shit out of my kid, and now only so I could smash it with a hammer. Fuck sake, throw in some creepy organ music and a hand-held cinematic treatment and you have a horror classic on your hands.
And speaking of, your assistant (who was more "ass" than "istant" to be sure) was perfectly cast. With a hairstyle obviously crafted as an homage to one or both of the Twin Towers, she called me in to help calm Thomas down. I obliged happily and, with my own special brand of masculine lilt, had just about gotten him to the point where you could have injected the anesthetic into his big toe. If you recall, I hugged him gently, rubbed his hair and spoke in low, calming tones -- feeling him relax in my arms only to have the whole vibe dashed by "HEY, I KNOW! LET'S DRAW A SMILEY FACE ON YOUR FOOT! THAT'LL CHEER YOU UP, RIGHT?" The caps are not my embellishment. She actually spoke in all caps, like the bastard child of Fran Drescher and Gilbert Gottfried. To which I responded: THE FUCK, y'all!
And so if the rest of the procedure went horribly for you, it's your own stupid fault. It was failure by your own design. You really should have understood from the fact that my son NAMED HIS FUCKING WART that this was a big deal to him. And for my part, you cost me an extra $40 at the toy store on the way home just to get him to stop crying, and I've had to repeatedly reassure him that doctors are not our enemies.
Hey, I get it. Maybe you liked to party and didn't end up getting the grades you'd need to become an inspiring atresia repair surgeon like my man, Dr. Brad. And maybe your wife's a real shrew who keeps harping on you about your relative lack of success. Maybe she's always on you about so and so's surgeon husband who retired a billionaire at 50 and moved the family to Amalfi. And how her mother told her to hold out for a plastic surgeon instead of a foot guy. Well, maybe I'm angry that Little Feat never called me to replace Lowell. Let's you and I get drunk and express our personal frustrations in the parking lot. Meanwhile, the luckiest minute of your day was when you finally smeared the bloody mass(es -- turns out Huggy was pregnant with a little subcutaneous offspring) onto that paper-covered tray. Two more minutes and I'd be rocking your world with my own inimitable version of Fat Man in the Bathtub, if you know what I'm saying.
But I digress. This isn't about me or Dr. Insensitive-with-the-shrewish-bitch-of-a-wife. This is about Huggy, the bestest, most painfulest lump of unnecessary skin there ever was. To huggy!
"There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people." -- Muhammad Ali
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