I don't care much for needles. In 2nd grade, I was well aware of what a needle was and very well knew the concept of "getting a shot." This particular year my sister, being in 5th grade had to get a standard shot and I was told that when I reach 5th grade, I would have to get the same shot. And thus began a three year wait that I thought believed would take forever.
The thing about going to any kind of doctor is how much more intense the pain is than what it would be if you were doing it yourself. To the doctor, your skin isn't a layer of sensitivity but rather like a piece of meat. They just plunge the needle right in there with no regard for your pain. It slides in, sometimes a little blood dribbles out, push the plunger and take it out. It seems the doctor, after doing it so many times, forgets that it kind of hurts. Then again, as a doctor, I guess you would have to forget that your actions are causing others pain in order to get anything accomplished. That makes sense. But I'm eight years old and the only perspective I can see is my own and I know I don't like the idea of needles penetrating my skin.
In fifth grade, my eleven year old sister had begun the countdown for me. I don't remember what exactly the shot was for but it's one of the important ones that everyone is supposed to get at that age. I remember thinking fifth grade was forever away and how I wouldn't have to worry about this shot for a long time. So I lived these three years doing and and learning all kinds of things but the thought of this needle was always present. The point being that although 5th grade came faster than I thought it would, I still remember those three years going by very slowly. But the day finally came.
Before I had time to mentally prepare for the actuality of the whole thing, I found myself walking through those depressing hospital hallways, smelling that smell. Whatever that smell is. Why hasn't someone corrected that smell by now? It's like a mix of latex, bleach and laundry detergent. And then it gets worse when you're walking by the food service department where you can additionally mix in the smells of fried chicken and green beans. Maybe someday we can convince hospitals around the nation to take a small portion of their budget and use it towards some candles or potpourri. I'm convinced such an action would receive appreciation from everyone.
And so anyway, I eventually make it to the venue of torture and try to find any possible element of comfort on this loose piece of tissue paper that is annoyingly always just resting on the examination chair without anything to really hold it down. It is never attached or securely placed and I hate it. I didn't mind so much back then but presently, I propose that maybe after splurging on the candles and potpourri maybe they can invest in the development of tissue paper with adhesive edges or something. I don't know what it would be but in an age when things like the iPhone and GPS and silent velcro exists, we should have some way of keeping an examination chair sanitized without the goddamn tissue paper.
So after the standard warning the nurse always gives you, ("the doctor will be with you in just a few minutes,") and then the standard hour you have to wait after that, (and this is all after already sitting for hours in the waiting room,) and after you've examined every aspect of the office, (medical posters displaying anatomies of various organs and systems, the jars of tongue depressors, cotton balls and dum-dums, the boxes of latex gloves, etc. And then you notice the needle disposal bin that says "Bio-Hazard" on it which reminds you why you're here,) the doctor does his little courtesy knock, walks in with a folder, and he asks a lot of questions that you don't really know the answers to. ie: "Are you allergic to anything?" -- I now know that I'm allergic to shellfish but there was a time when I didn't know that yet and my answer to this question was always "Not that I know of." And he would nod his head and be ok with that answer. I mean, how are you supposed to know really? Isn't it possible that you're allergic to A LOT of things that you've just never been exposed to yet? the answer is yes, it is possible, but I guess it's not a big enough deal for them to investigate any further.
There has also been the question, "Are you a smoker?" -- I began smoking in high school but for the first year or so, it was just an occasional thing. I could make a pack of cigarettes last a couple months. So during this phase when asked this question, I'd have to say "Well, I've smoked, but I'm not a smoker." And he says, "Do you buy cigarettes?" "Yes, but they last a really long time though." I think he wrote me down as a smoker but I didn't feel that this was accurate. I didn't yet feel like a smoker. I didn't feel addicted. But I guess he had his reasons. Anyway...yeah doctors ask questions.
So I got the shot and as always, it's never as bad as you think it's going to be. Even now, 10 years later, I hate the idea of needles. Especially IVs. The thought of a needle entering your skin and then just staying in there makes me seriously queasy. But yeah, it's never all that bad.
Well...I've reached this point and realized I've come far from the point I was initially trying to make which was that when you're young, the years don't necessarily go by slow, but they seem to be full of so much more activity and discoveries and makes it feel as if they're going by slow. (I tried expressing this by discussing the time it took for that shot to finally come. However, I started ranting about the hospital itself and the whole experience of it which mostly wasn't true of that particular event. I don't even think I was in the hospital for this particular shot. I don't even specifically remember getting it but I remember thinking about it and I know that it DID happen, so that's what's important anyway.) But now, three months out of college, that same amount of time, three years, seemed to go by so much more quickly and was filled with so much less. The older you get, it seems your life is mostly comprised of repetition in small variances. But when you were young you were learning all of these things and experiencing all of this stuff for the first time so it seemed as if the years were more meaningful. There was something to live for but you didn't know just yet what it was. But when you find it, you lose something and it makes the years all blend together and before you know it....
....you're able to grow a beard.