Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Newborn Nursery

In 1979, some variation of the following probably occurred.

A medical student, his hands quivering, placed his hands behind my shoulders and picked me up from a rolling basinet. He gasped as my unsupported head rocked back, seemingly threatening to roll right off my neck. He was quite relieved when it didn't. He placed me under a heat lamp, and then fuddled with the dial, trying to figure out how to turn the thing on. He measured my head with a paper tape measure, picked up his pen to record the data, and then wondered to himself for the first of many times if he was supposed to take off and change his gloves between doing this and doing that. He decided no. He searched a poorly mimeographed form for the right box in which to write this number. There were hundreds of boxes on the page. While searching, he forgot the number, and went back to re-measure. He sweated under the heat lamp. He did not even try to contain his surprise when I grasped his latex-covered finger and jammed it into my mouth, WAY in there, and began sucking on it. He had never felt anything quite like that before. He didn't imagine it tasted all that good, but I apparently didn't seem to mind, so he let me - at least it had gotten me to stop crying. He scratched my foot and made my toes fan, he flipped me over on my stomach and made me wag side to side by tapping up my back, he pulled my arms down and watched as they sprung back up. He gently squished my testicles between his fingers. I didn't like that at all. He decided that now would probably be a good time for a glove change, before picking up his pen again.

That head would grow curly blonde ringlets, then straight brown hair, then curly brown corkscrews, then fall out. Those lips would go on to speak French and kiss girls. Those reflexes would be incorporated into innumerable layers of recurrent neural subroutines, and be orchestrated to throw curveballs and fill out forms. Those testes would grow cancer. He documented what he could, but he had only the faintest idea what might happen to it all.