A guest blog by the inimitable Jeff of Omegaword
Why I Don't Understand What You're Saying*
When I was a child, the pediatrician I was forced to visit enjoyed tormenting me with his voice, which he used for making loud, sarcastic remarks concerning the reasons for those visits. When I had athlete's foot, Dr. Blut called it "jungle rot," and reflected, loudly, on the likelihood of it spreading to other areas of my body. Everything he said was delivered at an abnormally high volume because the nurse had ruptured his eardrums.
Nurse Krill always came in immediately after the doctor had finished distressing me with his words, and went straight to the task of measuring my body temperature with one of the infernal appliances she kept in the cabinet of the examination room. After she had selected the appropriate one, she would approach with an air of nonchalance, hiding the mystery behind her back. Then, with a shriek, she would plunge the thing into one of my ear canals while she counted, loudly, to sixty.
At this point, you're probably asking yourself what she might have done to improve her technique. After all, taking a child's temperature with a modern digital thermometer is hardly rocket science, and besides, it isn't so easy to jam one of those little plastic tips so far into an ear canal that the eardrum is ruptured. Right?
No. You're wrong, as usual. You've conveniently forgotten what year it is in my narrative, and that there's no digital anything, and the rectal thermometer I'm referring to is half a foot long, made of glass, and is filled with tapioca or similarly lethal substance. It obviously wasn't shaped like an ampersand, because that would be silly.*
Continuing on, the main points of my story are simply that (2) you can't assume doctors and nurses aren't demonic entities from Hell, (1) just because Derek Walcott managed to scrawl out a few lines about an ampersand-shaped rectal thermometer doesn't mean he could hear what the doctor was saying about my feet, and (3) it's unwise to trust the accuracy of any temperature measurement when you're surrounded by a bunch of flames.