Three Questions for Any Doctor by Robert Vaughan

i. I ask him, “Where did you go for your last vacation?” And I’m not being nosy, I  swear, it’s because doctors go to these exotic places. Doctor French does. He’s been to  Bermuda, and Barbados. He speaks a few hundred languages. He brings back thinly-  framed pictures from the natives, like a Grandma Moses only filled with color, like one  of those paint-by-number. Most exotic place I’ve been is Chicago. I got lost so many  times I ended up in Wisconsin.

ii. My favorite question to ask my dentist, before shoving his gloves into my mouth, is  “What are you doing for dinner?” And if he doesn’t respond, say yes, commit, then I  just find another doctor, and ask him. You have to pick the perfect moment. It’s all  about the timing. Sometimes it falls on deaf ears. Gets lost. Best moment is when he  reaches for that drill or is about to syringe your upper gum with novacaine.

iii. This might seem strange. I also ask, “How deep is the sky?” Because if he’s unable to  answer something odd, then can I trust him? I’m not there for the cookie- cutter  treatment. I want to know he’ll give me the benefit of my doubt. So I ask the  unanswerable to shake him out of his medical stupor. Get his nose out of those textbooks.  More often than not, he just stares at me like I’m nuts.



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25 responses to “Three Questions for Any Doctor by Robert Vaughan

  1. Really nice, Robert. I’m not sure yet how I feel about the segmented stories, yet you’ve tied all this together so well!

  2. Andrea

    LOL! I agree…ask them nonsensical questions to get them out of their “medical stupor.”

  3. Cynthia

    This is hilarious, things I have only dreamed before. I like the installation style you used to tell the story also. Great site! Thanks for posting on your FB page.

  4. T. Dex

    The author’s sense of humor comes through in the voice here. And I like the three takes on different questions to ask any doctor. Especially given this week’s prompt. Really unusual.

  5. Beverly

    The odd format, the seemingly random construct (yet not), the way the author thinks, the glimpses of rarities in the choices. Shines!

  6. Good story! And having seen over 100 docs in the past 3 years, I have been tempted to ask ridiculous things and see what they say. I’m sure I’d get the responses indicated here…

    • Robert Vaughan

      Thanks for reading, Murray. I thought you might relate to this piece a little more than some, given your history. I do, too, for reasons very different than yours. But all the same, it was a joy to imagine up this one! I’m grateful for your comments.

  7. Don Williams

    You have the knack for wacky material somehow making literal sense. Don’t know how you do it, but you weave that magic through many of your stories and for that I am grateful.

  8. stephen

    I got lost so many times I ended up in Wisconsin.

    great line.

    i like this piece. i like the idea of stopping the dentist in his tracks for a minute. i can imagine him looking at you by the end, motionless except for the blinking.

    • Robert Vaughan

      Thanks Stephen,

      I appreciate your comments! We all could benefit from stopping any doctor/ dentist in his/her tracks on occasion. This was a fun prompt and I recommend that you explore it sometime.

  9. Kim Hutchinson

    The Wisconson line grabbed me too. Realy nice.

    • Robert Vaughan

      Thanks for reading, Kim! It is also up at Fictionaut if you would be so kind to “fave” it there? That is, if it is your truth to. Thanks!

  10. wonderful. “He speaks a few hundred languages.” great buildup here. i somehow feel as if these stories ‘had to be told’: we all go to doctors, thinking we have to, or actually have to, and there’s this awkwardness between them and us like between you and death or you and life, for that matter, which you’ve now, finally, successfully bridged, mate.

    • Robert Vaughan

      Thanks so much! I value your input and awareness…and appreciate your comments so much. Great that you are here at 52/250 and share such a vibrant community!

  11. Al McDermid

    I got lost so many times I ended up in Wisconsin. I just hate it when that happens. I love the random irrationality here; a fun piece.

  12. Stares at him like he’s nuts? Gee, I wonder why …
    Well done.

  13. Stares at him like he’s nuts? Gee, I wonder why …
    Well done.

  14. Robert, love this! So funny, yet so true in a very scary way (scary re the docs not the patients). This triggers so much for me: quality of care, the cookie-cutter feel of ‘health care’, the futility of health care reform (what does access mean if your doc doesn’t know you), health literacy, yadayadayada (can you tell I study this in my day job?).

    Health professionals need to be shaken up! Now if I could just get mine to return my call so I can make an appointment. Peace…

  15. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Linda,

    I love that you took so much from this, way more than perhaps I may have intended! The power of writing set forth in motion. Yes, the immense grey area of doctor- patient relationship (professionally and personally) are what I was playing with here. The funny/scary or dark/light play is intended. There is such a fine line between life and death…and this is a topic I return to endlessly. Thanks for your salient comments!

  16. Pingback: Week #27 – lost in translation « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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