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Physical

                                    Wolfgang Wright


The doctor, Dr. Thompson, stuck his head in shortly after the nurse had left and without saying hello informed Josh that he had a resident making the rounds with him and was wondering if Dr. Hyde—that was the resident’s name—could sit in on the examination.  Josh said sure, no problem, thinking it would be cool to get checked out by two doctors for the price of one, even if it was only a routine sports physical, but when a second later the resident walked in and he saw that Dr. Hyde was a woman, he immediately regretted not having taken the request more seriously.  This was his second physical, he’d had one last year before going out for track, so he knew what went into it, and though most of it wasn’t anything to be nervous about, there was the matter of the hernia test in which he would have to drop his pants and expose himself while the doctor felt his scrotum.  Even if Dr. Thompson would be the one to perform it, the idea of an adult woman having a free look at his teenage penis while someone else had his fingers in the same general area left him feeling horrified about what he’d unwittingly agreed to.  What made it worse was that despite the white smock and blue scrubs she was wearing Dr. Hyde was beautiful, tall and dark-haired with a slender body and eyes as green as leaves.  She was the kind of woman he might dream about while masturbating, exactly the kind that one day he would love to have sex with, and already, with only an embarrassed glance in her direction, he could feel himself growing in his pants.

“Have a seat here,” Dr. Thompson said to him, though it took Josh a moment to realize it, as he was already sitting, in the patient’s chair near the desk, whereas Dr. Hyde, who’d only entered far enough to close the door, remained standing, as though she were expecting him, Josh, to change his mind, as though he wasn’t the first patient to have second thoughts about her presence once they got a look at her.  Maybe Josh should have said something, taken advantage of the opportunity she seemed to be offering, but in his mind he had already relinquished his right to object, already crossed the proverbial Rubicon when he had, sight unseen, agreed to allow her to observe, so that to change his mind now, in his own mind, would have been as bad or nearly as bad as allowing her to remain, because his only reason for objecting to Dr. Hyde’s being there was that she was a woman, and that seemed wrong.

Still, there was the matter of his erection, which became the focal point of his thoughts as he moved from the chair to the examination table, changing directions, putting Dr. Hyde on his left now instead of his right, where she looked no less attractive than she had before.  If he could somehow will his erection away, then it wouldn’t be quite as bad, it would reduce his embarrassment at least a little, because doctors likely saw limp penises all the time when doing physicals, it was no big deal to them, even to female doctors, who undoubtedly were subjected to them as well, if not during their practice, then during their medical training, such as now.  But an erect penis was a different matter.  Though doctors must surely encounter them sometimes, the circumstances were likely such that the erect penis itself was the reason for seeing a patient, such as when, so Josh had learned from watching commercials, an erectile dysfunction pill had resulted in a side effect lasting for more than four hours.  But under the present circumstances, an erect penis was almost certainly the exception to the rule, meaning his own erect penis would stand out—no pun intended—leading both Dr. Thompson and Dr. Hyde to suppose that, while they were doing their best to remain professional, he, Josh, was so horny in his adolescence that he could not control himself in even the most sterile of environments, an impression he did not wish to impart, however true it may be.  But how—to get back to the matter—does one will an erection away?  He had heard from somewhere, perhaps from his father, who begrudgingly answered his questions about sex whenever he summoned the courage to ask, of men using baseball, of thinking of it, as a way of calming one’s sexual energies, but for Josh, all those balls and longs bats seemed more suggestive than distractive and only served to remind him of his own equipment in its aroused condition.  In the past, he had also tried thinking of his mother, or his grandmother, but in these instances, when his erection did not immediately disappear, it freaked him out, to use his own verbiage, and as a result he would immediately think of other girls, girls unrelated to him, girls he wanted to hump, to justify his erection, however much he initially might have wanted to get rid of it.  Once, just once, in the bathroom at school, he had squeezed one of his testicles until the pain became so intense that he couldn’t help but go limp, but unfortunately, present circumstances did not allow for him to repeat this salvo, not with two sets of eyes bearing down on him, no, he may as well whip it out and jerk one off if he were going to do that.  Which left him, it appeared, with no other alternative than to wait it out, to see if perhaps by the time Dr. Thompson got around to his genitals he might be so turned off by the examination that he would lose his erection naturally, that his penis would be rendered flaccid by the mere asexual tedium of the proceedings.  It seemed unlikely, but it was his only hope.

It, however, was a hope quickly dashed when Dr. Hyde, who must have realized that Josh was in fact not going to ask her to leave, crossed behind Dr. Thompson and, with the purpose of finding the best place from which to view the examination, pulled out the rolling chair beneath the desk and brought it to within a few feet of where his legs were dangling.  The movement itself was nothing remarkable—she didn’t strut or swagger or do anything remotely alluring—but as she moved she gave off a scent, a scent of strawberries, and though it wasn’t strong, in fact it was barely noticeable, the scent immediately brought images to his mind.  One image, for example, had him digging his nose into her hair in order to smell her better.  Another, more explicit image, had Dr. Hyde placing a strawberry partially into her mouth and sucking on it for a while before biting into it and letting the juices slide slowly down her chin and onto her neck.  And once this happened, once his mind began to conspire with his penis, he knew there was no point in hoping, because in such cases his erection never went away on its own, not without some stupendous distraction from without, such as an earthquake or an eclipse, or an earthquake and an eclipse, no, in fact, it was so hopeless that when Dr. Hyde sat and crossed her legs, he did not even bother fighting the temptation to contemplate the place to which those legs eventually led.

And while his lurid thoughts began to accumulate, one after the other like an ancient, ritualistic orgy, Dr. Thompson carried on with the examination, noticing nothing out of the ordinary while listening to his lungs and heart, while peering into his ears and nose and throat and eyes, as not one of these organs, unlike his penis, dared to give Josh away.  Matter-of-factly, Dr. Thompson asked him questions, mostly medical, though to appear cordial, he also asked him about what sports he would be trying out for this year.  Josh mentioned soccer, because he’d played some over the summer and seemed to have a knack for it, so he was going to give it a shot.  Soccer, and then like last year, track, probably long distance again, though javelin also looked interesting.  It was at this point that Dr. Hyde entered the conversation, saying how she, too, threw javelin in school, and to be polite Josh looked at her, first into her eyes, and then, drifting downward past her breasts, which were too covered up to warrant lingering on even if he could get away with it, to her hands, which lay casually upon her lap.  He wanted to ask her which hand exactly she had used to grip the javelin, which set of fingers she had wrapped around the long shaft in order to thrust it through the air, but he felt if he did so he would almost certainly give himself away, expose his thoughts as shortly the rest of him would be exposed, and so instead he merely smiled and pretended that nothing was wrong.

Turning back, he stared at Dr. Thompson’s receding hairline, wondering what he, the doctor, could have been thinking when he had asked about Dr. Hyde, failing to mention her sex.  Like most doctors, Dr. Thompson behaved in a cold, detached manner, a manner without emotion, and yet he didn’t seem cruel in any way, didn’t seem like he got his kicks from embarrassing teenagers by making them undress in front of beautiful women while he rooted around in their genitals.  Most likely he had obeyed a rule, a rule against doctors warning patients about the sex of other doctors when making requests to have them sit in on examinations, and if there was such a rule, Dr. Thompson was off the hook.  But still, he could have helped Josh out, Josh being only a boy, he could have given him some kind of head’s up, a shake of the head, for example, when he had asked about Dr. Hyde, or a wave of the finger, something small like that, some sort of indication to Josh that he should say no without giving him cause as to why, thus tacitly letting both of them off the hook, Dr. Thompson from a potential lawsuit and Josh from a memory that might scar him for life.  It seemed like the kind of thing one guy would do for another, as guys do for each other in movies, but Dr. Thompson, for whatever reason, hadn’t bothered.

“Everything looks good so far,” Dr. Thompson said, moving right along.  “Now stand up and take off your shirt.”

Josh did exactly what Dr. Thompson asked of him, he stood up and took off his shirt, and over the next moment, while Dr. Thompson tested his strength and flexibility, having him put out his arms in front of him and then at his sides, having him pull on his hands and then push against them, having him turn his head from side to side and then up and down, and so on and so forth, he, Josh, decided to reexamine his predicament in light of the inevitable, that is, in light of the fact that his erection wasn’t going away.  For it had occurred to him that, however embarrassing it might be to have Dr. Hyde see him naked while he was fully aroused, it might be equally or perhaps even more embarrassing to have her see him while he wasn’t, because what Josh knew was, or rather, what he had discovered using his grade school ruler and a statistic he had gleaned from reading ahead in his health book, was that when aroused he was slightly larger than the average male, the average adult male, whereas when he wasn’t aroused, particularly when he was in a colder, less inviting environment, such as a doctor’s office, he would sometimes shrivel up almost to nothing, as though he didn’t have a penis but a strange bump where his penis should be.  Thus, what it really came down to was whether it was better to put on display one’s sexual desires for all in the room to see, or to be drastically shortchanged when it came one’s real length, and since Josh seemed to have no say in the matter, he decided, as much as one may do so, to embrace the former, figuratively speaking of course.

Unfortunately, when Dr. Thompson dug his fingers into his abdomen, Josh came close to exploding, resulting in a new, more terrifying worry, namely, that he may indeed explode at any moment, and without further provocation.  Did that ever happen? he wondered.  Did patients ever accidentally come on their doctors?  Could it happen?  Could he, Josh, climax at the worst possible moment, say, while Dr. Thompson was touching him?  Usually he had to work at it, to rub and rub, at least for a minute or two, before anything would happen, but there were instances, admittedly, in which he had come with almost no effort, as though the mere thought of coming was enough.  Could it happen here?  And what if it did happen?  What happened then?

“Good,” Dr. Thompson said, “now lower your pants.”

At these words, Josh considered adding a few words of his own, words of caution to both of them about what they were about to witness, to forewarn them about what might happen if they weren’t careful, but to put it into words, to announce aloud that he had an erection, that he might be on the verge of orgasm, would sound, he decided, like a confession of guilt, it would imply that he felt he had done something wrong, perhaps something evil, when in fact that was not yet established, not officially, no one had said erections were wrong, no one had said that to have one during a physical made one a pervert, that had only been his own conjecture.  And so, instead of saying anything, and without further ado, he unzipped his pants and lowered them, along with his boxers, both in one swift motion, all the way down.  Once exposed, he glanced at himself, at how hard and red and improper he looked, like a coat hanger hung too low for proper use, like a strange door handle where there was no door, like a, like a, no, not like anything at all, because there was no appropriate simile for a penis, a penis was a penis was a penis, enough said.  And then he glanced at Dr. Thompson, hoping against hope that this time the doctor would give him a sign, a sign acknowledging his erection but putting no stock in it, as though there was nothing abnormal about it, about having one during a physical, as though it were as common as not having one, or at least common enough not to think anything of it.  But when that didn’t happened, when Dr. Thompson, in keeping with his character, gave no indication one way or the other about his patient’s erection, but instead placed his cold, latex-covered fingers beneath his scrotum and asked him to turn his head and cough, he, Josh, glanced lastly at Dr. Hyde.

Consistent with what he had feared, Dr. Hyde appeared to be uncomfortable.  Unable to decide where to stare, her eyes darted from his penis to his own eyes and then back to his penis, quickly, as though under assault from two separate attackers, but not knowing which might strike first, nor which was more dangerous.  She sat back a little, too, as if obliged to make room for his erection, as if he were not merely slightly above average but so big that the room had suddenly become more crowded.  These little gestures, which under different circumstances might have been too inconsequential for anyone to even take notice of them, crushed Josh, for they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that erections were not common during physicals, that they fell far outside the norm, and that he, much as he did not want to be, was some kind sexual deviant, destined for a life of perversion.  If there was any consolation in having his worst fears confirmed, in being totally and irrevocably humiliated, in front of a beautiful woman no less, it was that from here on out the physical could not possibly get any worse.

And then Dr. Thompson said, “Hm.”

Immediately, Josh swung his head back and looked down at himself, for this was not the reaction he had expected to hear.  “Hm” was not something someone said when everything checked out, when everything appeared to be functioning properly.  “Hm” was a word, if that’s was it was, reserved for moments of confusion, for moments when the unexpected arose, and because Dr. Thompson had said “Hm” at the end of the test, not at the beginning, when Josh had first removed his clothing, it was unlikely that the doctor was referring to his erection, but rather to something else.

“What?” Josh asked, hoping that whatever else was wrong with him, whatever it was that had prompted Dr. Thompson to say “Hm,” might explain why he had an erection, might give him an excuse for his libidinous display, and thus allow him to save face, to walk out of the office with some of his dignity still intact, for if he had an infectious disease or some other ailment equally detrimental to the proper functioning of his sexual organs, he could not be blamed for his behavior, not at all, but instead must be pitied, must be shown compassion, or at very least must be perceived, not as a pervert, but as someone in the throes of illness.  Indeed, even if what was wrong with him were ultimately fatal, even if, say, it only gave him a few more months to live, at the moment, what with all the shame he was currently suffering from, it seemed like the more propitious alternative.

But Dr. Thompson, again in keeping with his character, ignored his question, did not even bother to look him in the eye, as though he weren’t there, as though whatever he had discovered in his patient’s scrotum were far more interesting than the patient himself.  And it was perhaps because of his character, for which all that mattered was the diagnosis, that he had no difficulty, had no trouble whatsoever, in turning to Dr. Hyde and saying, “Come here, I want you to examine this.”

Dr. Hyde, on the other hand, who seemed to recognize that Josh was in fact a human being, that his genitals were but one part of him, however above average they might be, hesitated at the order, and in fact, for a second at least, appeared to be almost as horrified as Josh himself.  But in the end, that is, when all was said and done, Dr. Hyde was still a doctor, a doctor working toward her license, and so when a colleague, a colleague who was also a mentor, who in addition carried some say over her future in the field, asked her to do something, something within the parameters of her job, such, as it were, as an examination, she naturally had to do it.  And to that end, Dr. Hyde, putting aside her emotions for the present, got up from her chair and slipped on a pair of gloves, after which, once Dr. Thompson had moved aside to give her room, she came forward and, without making a big to-do of it, placed one hand, and one hand only, on Josh’s scrotum.  Because Dr. Thompson had given her no clue as to what exactly she should be looking for, or where, Dr. Hyde had to feel around a bit, to do some digging, in order to discover the problem, and while she did so, Josh, believing he could not possibly recover from this second humiliation, so much more excruciating than the first, looked on in horror as his erection, so stubborn throughout, began to dwindle and go limp, making it appear—o fortuna, velut luna, statu variabalis—as though Dr. Hyde were not the cause of his arousal, but the antidote.

For her part, Dr. Hyde did not jerk her hand away, she did not alter her palpations, nor did she display any sign of discomfort as his weakening penis encroached upon her space and came to rest upon the side of her thumb.  On the contrary, she proceeded with her examination, unaffected and unfazed, and did not remove her hand until she was able to provide a diagnosis, which she called varicocele.  Josh, upon hearing the word for the first time in his life, asked immediately what it meant, and Dr. Hyde, without deferring to Dr. Thompson first, indeed, without even looking in his direction, explained to Josh that varicocele was a condition similar to the varicose veins commonly found in older people’s legs, only in this case, it occurred to a vein in the scrotum, a vein which worked to drain the testicles, and often appeared at about the age Josh was now.  She then went on, without his asking, to explain that it was quite common and fairly benign, though, and this was far from certain, it might affect his future fertility. 

“The best thing to do, Josh,” she said at last, “is not to worry about it, because otherwise you appear to be a perfectly healthy young man, and you can try out for whatever sport you want.  Now go ahead and get dressed.  I think we’re done.”

At this, Dr. Thompson, who must have thought that Dr. Hyde was undermining his authority by calling an end to his examination, let out a pronounced humph and also gave her a sharp, reprimanding look before turning to the desk to jot down some notes, but Josh, who was focused more on her words about him, her words about his being an otherwise perfectly healthy young man, words which he took to refer not merely to his varicocele, but also to his erection, admired Dr. Hyde for saying this and would have liked to give her hug once he was fully dressed, if he had not thought that it would lead her to incur more of Dr. Thompson’s wrath.  In a single moment, all his prior shame and apprehension had flushed out of his system, had disappeared as though it had never been there, and in its place he was filled with ultimate relief.  He thanked Dr. Hyde and told her she was going to make a great doctor, which brought a smile to her face and seemed to provide her with some relief of her own, as though she had had some doubts about whether she had chosen the appropriate career.  When he got out to the waiting room, he told his father about the physical, about how a resident had sat in, a woman, a beautiful woman, and how he had this condition called varicocele.  His father, surprised by his story, asked him how he felt about having had a woman examine him, and Josh, with a roll of his eyes, responded that it was no big deal, that, after all, Dr. Hyde was a professional, and that it didn’t matter to him what sex she was.

 

 

 


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