Urine For a Real Treat

The sound of the rain falling outside my window right now is delightful, as is the occasional crash of thunder. Oh, I'm sorry, that's coming from my speakers. LA is known for many things, but a peaceful thunderstorm every once in a while is not among them. I've never been in a thunderstorm with anyone from Los Angeles, but if I was I imagine it would involve them saying the same thing they say about all other variety of weather: "What?!! Where's the sun? Why isn't it shining? It's summer, for crying out loud!!" I kid, I tease... but that doesn't make it any less true. There's a reason I have to play an mp3 just to hear some rainfall. Speaking of summer, though, this one has easily been my best in the last few years. I attribute this mostly to the fact that I, miraculously, am no longer a graduate student! I have to exclaim that because I fought so long for it, and for the longest time it felt like it would never, ever end. It felt as if I would just continue, twice a year, to turn my pockets inside out and slug my way through lectures in the misguidedly false hope that I might one day be gainfully employed.

This summer has been a gift, in many ways. I managed to secure a job I actually wanted, and on top of that, I've pretty much had built-in vacation time because all the paperwork and legal mumbo jumbo takes so long to process. I found time to visit my (only in the summertime) beloved Minnesota, and bask in the glory of the trees and considerably less smoggy air. I got to spend nearly the entire month of July with my partner, who flew out to visit. I've lived in LA for two and a half years now and yet we still managed to do a hell of a lot of things I've never experienced in this city.

I took Robert to the airport yesterday morning, so he could go back to Albuquerque. It never gets easier, saying goodbye, but it turns out I found on odd remedy to take my mind off the pain: a trip to the doctor for a physical and a drug test for my new employer.

I arrived around 11 and a sweet, portly male nurse handed me a clipboard. "Do you need a pen, honey?" I grinned and, like the good Gay McGyver I am, fished out my trusty blue pen from my messenger bag. "Oh, you've got one already, mmmhmmm." I sat down and slogged my way through the obnoxiously small printed forms.

(In case anyone still wants to argue about its merits, I'd like to point out here in this parenthetical aside that Twitter was practically designed with waiting rooms in mind. Trust me, everyone who doesn't use Twitter will suddenly be wildly jealous that you have something that entertaining right at your fingertips.)

After a while, I heard a soft voice call out my name. "Phillip?" I gathered up my stuff to see who it was and was greeted by a nurse in neon pink scrubs. She wore white shoes and ponytail, coupled with an expression that said she took herself very seriously.

"Step over here."

Okay. Done.

"Now I'm going to--okay, now step around here."

I stepped around the counter and joined her.

"Empty out all your pockets in here please... No, your wallet you can keep, I didn't say your wallet."

"You said all my pockets."

"NOT your wallet."

"But you said--"

She cut me off, handed me a cup and informed me that I had four minutes, and only four minutes, to do the drug test. I tried to imagine what would happen if my bladder couldn't meet that demand. She would probably harness some freakishly inhuman strength and break down the door, despite the fact that it doesn't lock, and then tackle me and wrestle the cup from my hands. Her pink scrubs would surely get some of the blue dye on them, from the toilet bowl, and she would no doubt tell a story to all her friends about how she had to fight some big gay guy over a urine sample.

Once I was finished with Our Lady of Urinalysis, it was on to the doctor for the physical examination. They had me toss off all my clothes and then cover myself with a hospital gown, to which I had only one reason to protest.

"Way to tell a guy you don't want to see his beautiful, Southern California tan."

I don't think she even heard me. Selective listening and no sense of humor? That is professional street cred, yo.

The doctor arrived a half hour later, interrupting my game of finding hidden pictures in the drywall of the exam room. He was disheveled, wearing a plaid shirt and wind-blown hair despite the day's utter lack of wind outside. He wiped some crumbs from the side of his mouth and stared at my chart.

"You're vaccinated?"


"No you're not. Are you?"

"What are we talking about."



"Then you lied. It says on your file--"

"Read it. It says tetanus, and I get a yearly TB test."

He left the room, either to regain his composure or else to go finish off the last bite of his sandwich from lunch. Five minutes later, he returned. Lunch, it was.

The rest of that experience didn't get much better, though the guy who did my TB test was pretty cool. The needle pinched more than I cared for it to, but the man was like a real human being instead of a robot. He had a skin tone that made me think he might be from India, with an accent that made him sound like he was from somewhere in South America, perhaps Chile. His name was reminiscent of some kind of Italian food, too. It was that last detail that seemed to matter most at the time.

Compared to yesterday, today seems like a paragon of wonder. Not one thing on my agenda is something I would prefer to avoid, and I aim to start the day by going to a nearby lake and enjoying a walk in the sunshine. That's the weird thing about being done with school; I'm finding myself doing completely new things, and I'm really getting to enjoy my free time. There's a lot of hidden treasures in this city I have yet to see, so I may as well get started.