What is the most intimate thing you can do? Get your neck cut open by a sixty year-old man with a scalpel who will cup the soft tissue inside your throat, slide your muscles to one side, and screw a titanium bolt to a bone to save your soul.
I knew something was wrong when I met him. He asked if I was Goth, spent a lot of time discussing my appearance, flirting. I cared more about the capable nature of his voice, and how competent and surgically inclined his hands looked.
He lost forty years in his scrubs. This man was more like my dad than my lover, and held all power in those surgical straps on my legs, the anesthesia about to take me out.
He came over to where I was lying on the operating table and picked up my hands. He stroked the black nail polish he was so obsessed with, caressed each fingertip like a lover. Was this part of surgery prep?
I lay there and asked if I was going to be a ghoul when this was over, as they siphoned something into my IV. He gently stroked my cheek, “nothing about you could ever be ghoulish.”
The next thing I knew I was awake with a neck brace screaming and sobbing. When he came into my room he was cold. Like his one night stand, he had already seen and felt my insides, sewn me up, left his mark. I asked him what had happened when I came out of anesthesia. “You cried,” he said tersely. “Boo-hoo-hoo.”
Two weeks post-surgery I went back. The doctor immediately began undressing me. The affair was not over. Doctor came over to patient and removed scarf, neck brace. He had me stand. “I promise,” he said, “this is the only item of clothing I am going to remove.” He took off the strips of my bandage, revealed my scar, left me naked.
Then he began to talk, about my nails, about how beautiful I am “inside.” His hands had gone swimming in my throat to operate on my spine. He showed me the x-ray, the screw in my neck. “It’s beautiful,” he said, “it’s my artwork and now it’s signed and inside of you.”
In my neck he deposited a piece of himself. He left his design, re-aligned my spine, split me open and made me his Frankenstein. I am the doctor’s art project.
He told me I am not a feminist. I tried to leave. He told me how before I went under anesthesia I asked a nurse “to make sure the doctor doesn’t look at my boobies.” “Don’t worry,” he told me, “I didn’t look at your boobies.”
His wife is his office assistant and she checked me out when I left. The doctor is inside of my neck until I die. I cannot take him out. I will not lose him. I am one with him for the rest of my god-given life.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.