So I needed a new dermatologist, having moved here from California and not knowing any doctors yet. I asked around. I was thrilled when my friend Janna gave me a recommendation, because her skin is flawless (in fact, I was slightly suspicious: why does Janna even need a dermatologist? does she have some weird skin thing going? should I ask?). Janna happily provided Dr. H's info, and then she went into great detail about where I should park, to make sure I validate my parking, what time of day is best to book the appointment (hint: first thing in the morning-- just like Target!), and if they take my insurance.
My new dermatologist is Gwyneth Paltrow. Janna didn't mention this.
Now, you may have noticed if you have been following my blog that I do not obsess over my appearance (scratch that: I DO obsess, but I make sure to do so retrospectively when I no longer have any control over it). I can often be found wearing the universal standard-issue "Momiform". I have been known to skip a shower if I am in a huge rush. Make-up is generally not on my radar. However, I would like to go on record that, by the Grace Of God and Maybelline Mascara, I looked all right on the particular day in question, the day of my appointment. With Gwyneth.
I walk in. I check in at the desk and fill out approximately 38 forms. Then I sit and wait, eyes scanning the waiting room for clues. What kind of name is "Dr. H" anyway? Is that Vietnamese? French-Canadian? Russian? On one side of the waiting room is a large framed photo of an older gentleman in doctor's scrubs shaking hands with Someone-Who-Is-Obviously-Very-Important. Ahh, that must be Dr. H! He looks about 60 years old in the photo. That's about right: everyone knows that doctors are old. It is one of the prerequisites, like chemistry 101 and biology lab. After you go though about a gazillion years (give or take) of med school, that just makes you old.
Near the photo of old decrepit Dr. H is a framed newspaper article. Maybe about Skin Cancer. Or Baby Ducks. Can't tell, as I am sitting too far away and am feeling too lazy to get up and go over there to look at it. Why should I know what that says, when I am sitting way over here? It's not like I am at the Optometrist's.
The Receptionist/ Helper/ Clerk/ Secretary/ Medical Intern/ Janitor (choose one) comes to get me and lead me back to the examining room. I never actually know WHO it is that I am walking back with. I am just aware that some random person has butchered my name yet again and is holding a clipboard (with my vital information? or this month's Net-Flix options?) and has asked me to Follow Her Down The Hall. I do so obediently, like a little dog.
I try to make quick small talk with the Receptionist/ Medical Intern/ Janitor, but she is having none of it. She is all business, hands me the paper gown, and says Dr. H will be with me shortly. I start to put on the lovely gown (ties in the front? ties in the back? whoa, there are snaps on this one, what am I supposed to do with that? how am I supposed to get myself into this Origami creation?), and then I remember that I am here about my face, so I do not change my clothes after all. Instead, I start flipping through an older issue of "US Weekly" ("Surprise Wedding: Angelina Jolie marries Billy Bob Thornton" to give you an idea of what older means), and wait. And wait. And wait. It is 8:15 in the morning! Just how busy can Dr. H be at this hour?
I finish my magazine and fantasize about Opening All The Cupboards, just to see what is inside. In walks Gwyneth. To say that she is beautiful is an understatement. She has long luxurious hair, the color of a baby chick's fluff. She has big blue eyes, the size of saucers. She is quite tall, almost 6 feet. She is model thin. (In fact, I briefly think: "Hey, Dr. H! If this whole 'Doctor Thing' doesn't work out for you, you can always go back to being a supermodel!") She looks about 23 years old.
I immediately hate her. Then I hate Janna for not warning me. It is like telling someone who is about to go to Paris for the first time how delicious the food is and what kind of jacket to pack in case it rains and if we have a decent exchange with the euro right now but then omitting the small teeny tiny detail that you might want to pack a camera.
Dr. H introduces herself, and sweetly asks about Janna. Then she checks my skin. She leans into my face very close to examine my pores, and I have no choice but to examine hers as well. My job only takes 3 seconds, because she does not have any pores. When you hear someone use the term "Peaches and cream complexion", rest assured this is what they are referring to. She touches my face; I can smell her perfume (something with gardenias). I could kiss her.
I don't. Instead, I say, "Dr. H, what is your opinion of that weird brown spot near my right ear?" She takes a look and then assures me that it is Nothing; but she can use a special laser to get rid of it if I would like it to be more aesthetically pleasing. (She is obviously well-versed in "aesthetically pleasing".) She goes to retrieve the special equipment and tells me this will not hurt and will only take a couple minutes. She returns and gets set up, all the time chatting and joking around. OK, great: she is gorgeous, funny, and obviously smart (she did graduate from med school). Winner of the Great Trifecta Of Life.
While she performs the procedure, my mind is wandering. I rationalize that although Dr. H may "seem" perfect, she must get parking tickets like everyone else. She must step in gum occasionally. Maybe she has a difficult time swimsuit shopping, what with being so tall and all. And you know what? she probably did not even go to a very good med school! Ha! So there! She probably went to University of Can't-Get-In-Anywhere-Else in somewhere like, I don't know, Puerto Rico or North Dakota.
Dr. H is finished and recommends a follow-up visit. We say good-bye, and I go back to the front desk area and write the check for my co-pay. I am gathering my purse and keys and cell phone together and I glance up at the wall behind the receptionist.
That's when I see it. Dr. H's Medical Degree. From Harvard.
("My Optometrist is Vince Vaughn")