I’m Not a Doctor (I Just Play One On TV)


A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill, so he gave him another six months. 

~Henny Youngman

When my parents first sent me off to school, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I doubt very much they wanted me to be an underpaid library associate. In fact, if I were a betting woman, I’d have put my money on “nuclear physicist” or “marine biologist” or, the Holy Grail of ambitions, “medical doctor.” Every parent wants their kid to be a doctor. Seriously. It’s a point of honor. Nobody likes to go to fancy cocktail parties and say the words, “And this is Elizabeth, our daughter, who works at Pier 1 Imports as a third key. That is, when she’s not making balloon animals for extra money at children’s parties.”

Needless to say, my folks’ Hippocratic ambitions for me, their only offspring, never came to fruition. Not even close. Turns out I couldn’t handle the upper level science and calculus courses (what? I have a feeling you couldn’t either) and, more importantly, I have absolutely no bedside manner, being instead on the Cuddly Scale somewhere in the range of Drs. House, Lecter and Scrivello.  I was no more destined to be an M.D. than Edward Scissorhands was destined to be a masseur.

Dentistry was not for me either

Mom and Dad are still disappointed in me. I know they are, even after all these years. My test scores made it seem I was on the Road to Greatness (or, at the very least, 2.5 kids and a house in a gated community.) There was only one problem. It wasn’t what I really wanted. I find eight hours of dealing with the hordes of humanity exhausting enough, and I know 24-hour shifts as a stressed medical intern might have done me in. Plus there’s that pesky little fact that I myself have a severe medical phobia to the point of needing sedation for the most routine procedures. Awk-ward.

All that being said, I always wanted to don a starched white jacket and a stethoscope and pretend to be a doc, if only for one day. The infamous con artist Frank Abagnale once did just that…for almost a year before the game was up. Faceman did it all the time on The A-Team in order to spring Murdock from the confines of the mental hospital, though I suspect it had more to do with his smoldering good looks and less with his medical expertise. It’s a common plot device in scores of my favorite TV shows and movies, from 9 to 5 to The Fugitive to Lost. The writers make it seem like it’s as simple as waltzing into a hospital, finding someone your size to knock out, then slinging about a few words like “metatarsals” and “eructation” and, voila, Instant Doctor.

Of course, there’s much more to it than than (and I certainly don’t recommend going this route, though I’ve often been tempted myself.) There are no MDs in my family. Not even a PhD for good measure. One reason I shied away was to escape the inevitable sniggers when I was introduced as “Doctor Fach.” I mean, it sounds like a porno name.

I’m The Doctor, not a doctor, silly goose

A game I always like to play with my friends and  confidantes is that of “If you didn’t know me already…what might you guess I did for a living?” So far, I’ve gotten astronomer, private investigator, commercial artist, FBI agent, and undercover police officer. No doctor, unless the astronomer’s degree was an advanced one. That’s a relief. I can safely tell Mom and Dad that I never was meant for medicine (I mean, can you imagine the embarrassment of a doctor who herself was afraid of doctors? Isn’t that, like, a pyrophobic firefighter or an ailurophobic veterinarian?) I know how to set bones, administer most medicines, give CPR/first aid, and diagnose basic illnesses. That’s enough for the average person. Besides, I always thought stethoscopes were too funny for me to keep a straight face.

I am a doctor...and don't call me Shirley

What did your parents want you to be when you grew up? Send me your answers and you might be included in a future edition of P&Q. As always, if you enjoyed this post, click “Like” and subscribe if you haven’t already…doctor’s orders.

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on January 31, 2012.

6 Responses to “I’m Not a Doctor (I Just Play One On TV)”

  1. My mom wanted me to be an architect. Not that I wasn’t capable of it (having always been good with shapes and numbers), but It just wasn’t my passion. I guess it’s a little strange for an Aspie to have a passion for taking care of children, but that’s all I want to do.

    Allie.

  2. I know what you mean. I couldn’t spell or pronouce spignomanometer . . . spygmomamometer . . . sphygmomamome . . . oh hell, . . . the thing they wrap around your arm and take your blood pressure with! Great post. J http://contemporarymusings.wordpress.com

  3. I honestly don’t know what my parents hoped I’d be. Probably whatever I really wanted to be. They have been very supportive, even though I know my sister and I have both disappointed them by not making them grandparents. She bears the brunt of that, because I never wanted children and as my so called body clock has still not kicked in at almost 40, plus my disability, they don’t expect me to provide the goods 🙂 But she’s younger and healthy!

    Ironically, I think they may have never told me their hopes and dreams in case they unduly influenced my choices, so instead I think I’ve second guessed them and tried at least subconsciously when I was young to do things they would approve of rather than find my own dreams and follow them. I’ve got better at that with age though 🙂

  4. My mom wanted me to be an RN like her sister. She was successful after all! So when I started college I decided to get my general ed out of the way before starting on the tough nursing classes. As an art requirement I took a Black & White Photography class. Long story short, fell in love and I am back in school (dropped out cuz I thought I could handle a mind numbing normal job-lol) to pursue my dream of being a photographer. 🙂

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