Ah, the intoxicating scent of hand sanitizer.
Is there anything else quite like it?
The sign on my doctor's office asks me politely (but in bold) to douse my hands in the stuff before entering the building.
I'm either flattered that she's looking out for my health, or insulted that she thinks I'm dirty.
Either way, I am now permitted to enter the building, but am waylaid in the foyer. Another, bolder sign ordering rather than asking me to remove my shoes, or, if I will not stoop quite so low (or believe that the probability of another patient stealing my Uggs is high), to at least encase my outdoor shoes in paper booties, supplied at no extra cost by my bleeding-heart doctor.
Finally I am fit to tread upon the hallowed carpets leading to the surly receptionist. She deigns to pass me the almighty clipboard where I will jot down the same information I jotted down last time, which she apparently threw out before the ink even dried because she sits in the ergonomic chair behind the desk and I am but the mere peon who perches uncomfortably with the unwashed masses in the plastic moulded chairs scattered unimaginately in the designated waiting area.
My doctor's taste in receptionists is questionable, but I adore how solicitous she is of me. She realizes that I am busy, that life is hectic, so she takes care of me by allowing me an extended, 70-minute rest among similarly harried people. Goodness knows I would never take the day off work and treat myself to kicking back in a pair of paper booties and indulging in a Reader's Digest from last century on my own. It was nice to have some random Tuesday me-time. Well, me and a dozen other people. People with coughs and upsetting medicinal smells who make odd honking noises and use the bathroom more times in 70 minutes than normal people should. When I'm done perusing the fascinating tale of courage in the face of adversity that every single Digest from the past 54 years contains by default (no worries, they always survive), I am delighted to entertain myself with a rousing round of "Guess the Disease".
The man across from me with the boulbous nose, mismatched argyle socks and a wheeze that would put an asthmatic donkey to shame probably has something intestinal, I'm guessing. The sweaty woman with the blotchy complexion and the runs in her nylons probably has a nasty rash hidden somewhere under all that rayon. As for the dude with the tube sock pinned around his neck, his moaning and eye-rolling make the game all too easy, but before I can render a diagnosis, a miracle happens and my name is mispronounced, but done loudly enough that I recognize the gurgling as vaguely resembling the noise my mother called me when I came ripping out of her belly.
Don't cry for me - the fun didn't stop there. In fact, once I shed my clothes and donned not the dreaded paper gown but something entirely new and even more horrendous - the paper poncho.
It had a head hole, and that was it.
Not even a belt to cinch in the waist.
Imagine the fun every time I walked over a heating vent! It would fly straight up over my face, like an inverted umbrella in the wind, except all my dangly bits were, well, dangling.
At least the poncho matched the booties.
But wait! There's more.
If you're feeling interactive, you can go to your kitchen right now, and fashion a poncho for yourself out of paper towels. But first run the paper towels under the tap.
How's it going for you? Are you comfortable in your moist paper poncho from hell? Warm? Feeling confident enough to stroll down the hallway filled with non-ponchoed people or flirt with the uber-handsome doctor (who is also wearing clothes that aren't see through or quickly disintegrating)?
Hint: ultrasound gel is much like tap water, in that it also compromises the integrity of a paper garment.
Hint: there is no way to accessorize a paper poncho.
Hint: I still look cuter than asthmatic donkey guy. Ponchoes really don't flatter the man boobs.
I never thought I'd see the day that had me missing the good old paper gown, but it turns out that arm holes are essential for not looking like a moron. But a poncho? Come on! I'm worried that next time I go, they'll have nothing but a paper sash, or a paper fig leaf, or just a paper hat.
Try not to picture that.