When we were young, people couldn’t tell that my older brother Adam and I were related. A woman in Arizona, where my family was on vacation, once clomped up to us, pointed at Adam, and demanded to know, “Is he adopted?”
Nowadays, I like to think the resemblance is more pronounced. Sure, Adam is over 6’ and plays basketball for fun in LA, where he lives, whereas I am under 5’2” and play Scrabble in NYC, but we both write about minor, yet traumatic health experiences for the Internet.
Compare and contrast: Adam’s reflections on his tour of Medi-land (“5 Things I Learned From Having Surgery”) and mine (“The Best Time I Got My Wisdom Teeth Out”).
I’m not a brave person. There’s a reason I carry small, dissolvable tablets of Klonopin around with me in my change purse. I don’t like pain, I hide from danger, and I am not even that crazy about excitement.
“Do you want to get your wisdom teeth out?” a dentist asked me in high school.
“No, thanks!” I said because, A) obviously, and B) I assumed he was asking the question rhetorically, the way my mother asked if I wanted to empty the dishwasher. Instead he said, “Okay!” What kind of idiot, hippie dentist does that? Why not ask a dog if he wants his shots, or that drunk guy you took home if he wants to use a condom?
When I was growing up, if I wanted to do something my father considered risky, he would say, “That would be like a getting a non-Jewish doctor – you might be okay, but you’re not playing the odds.” I don’t think he had a lot of math to back that up, but he said it all the time.
So, I couldn’t help feeling a bit uneasy when I arrived for surgery at a hospital called The Little Company of Mary. There were crosses everywhere – they were really flaunting the non-Jewishness of it. I felt a little out of place.
But then, in the elevator, there was a cross with Mary on it. Her eyes were bugged and her arms were raised to the sides. She looked super pissed. It occurred to me that Mary was a Jewish woman, probably not that different from my mom. I looked at her on that cross and I knew what she was thinking:
“If I told that boy once I told him a HUNDRED TIMES: ‘Stop preaching that michigas about helping the poor or you’ll get yourself KILLED!’ Oyyyy, vey is mir! You know whose fault this is, don’t you? His FATHER’S!”
Who wore it better? I report, you decide.