I am aware that getting older often means receiving fewer opportunities to spend quality time with your parents, but I hope I'm forgiven for squandering one of those rare chances by refusing to write on their butts.
“Come on,” my mother goaded, “I have a brown eyeliner pencil in my purse.”
“But he'll get a kick out of it!”
And the truth was that he probably would have. How often does the family physician go to give a couple their colonoscopies and find a decree such as “I'M READY FOR MY CHEEK-UP” etched on the field of battle?
I'm not the most glamorous of writers but I do have to draw the line somewhere. My only duty as I saw it was to transport the two to their appointments with the world's scariest pipecleaner. Preparations include “cleaning out” beforehand by consuming nothing except clear liquids and laxatives. You’re not allowed to drive while in this state because, as we all know, all good drivers out there are full of it.
I thought my job was complete when I ushered them in, but several minutes later a nurse came to the waiting room.
“Would you like to see your parents?” she asked.
Depends on how much of them they’ll make me see, I thought, but relented.
For those blessed with blissful ignorance, a colonoscopy takes a long tube with a camera on the end and inspects the intestine for polyps, potential malignancies and other pretty treasures. The unfortunate news is that the doctor takes the shortest route possible to the colon—yes, through there—snaking the tube around twists and turns you never knew existed. It’s a lot like that carnival game where you try to get the ring through the tangled wire without touching it, only the doctor is taking the wire and moving it through the ring, which—may I be excused from this analogy, please?
Once the colonoscopy ends, it’s still far from over. Surprisingly, the colon doesn't react well to having a tube inserted in it (“GOOD LORD; WHAT IS THAT?!” is the medically agreed upon reaction). So, to give more room to work with, air is blown into the colon to expand its walls. That air has to escape somehow after the procedure, and it refuses to leave quietly. The nurses, understanding of the natural embarrassment such a condition may cause, wheel you near as many old ladies as possible and run off giggling.
That’s where I sat with my dad in recovery, chatting about what he could recall of his experience through the haze of Versed, when there suddenly began a low rumble like a timpani. It crescendoed into the peal of a broken trumpet before echoing off into the light fizzle of lingering fireworks on a hot summer’s night. The entire symphony had to have lasted 20 seconds at the very least.
Old ladies silent around us, we burst out laughing. Who said you need an eyeliner pencil for family bonding?