09-04-2011, 11:09 PM
Monday morning, eight forty-five, Rose Medical Center. Criss sat in a plastic chair in the waiting room with a brown plastic clipboard holding a stack of forms to be filled out for his physical--the same ones he filled out last year, and the year before, and the year before that, ever since he signed the contract with the Luxor. It was a tedious routine, but it was better than reading the three-year-old Family Circle magazine lying next to him on the side table. Criss picked up the pen provided with the clipboard and began to fill in the blanks.
Name, address, city, state, ZIP code, phone number, insurance information, driver's license, number of person to contact in case of an emergency--he scribbled them all in. Why the hell don't they just use what I gave them last time? he wondered. Save a lot of paperwork for both of us. Next came a questionnaire regarding his physical well-being: Did he or his family have a history of any of the diseases or other maladies listed on the form? Criss circled "cancer" due to his father's illness and "heart disease" because of his mother's bypass a few years ago. Was he a smoker? No, he never was and never would be. Did he have a history of alcohol or drug abuse? Again, no, unless being an adrenalin junkie counted. Did he or his family have a history of such mental disorders as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the like? Nah, I just enjoy jumping out of runaway vans and running through collapsing hotels! he joked to himself, but he checked No just the same. If he had checked Yes, it wouldn't have made any difference. If they put him in a straitjacket, he'd just get out of it.
Criss signed the forms, got up from the uncomfortable plastic chair and walked over to the reception window. He gave the clipboard and pen back to the medical assisitant , then returned to his seat to wait for the doctor to see him. Across from him, a black woman sat quietly perusing an issue of The Watchtower, the premier publication of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Something clicked inside his brain when he read the cover of that little magazine: Michael Jackson had been a Jehovah's Witness, he recalled. Did he go door to door passing out those pamphlets like the others in that church early in his life? He couldn't help but laugh at the mental image of the King of Pop knocking on someone's door with a copy of The Watchtower in his hand and telling the person who lived there that Jesus was coming soon and blah, blah, blah. Maybe he autographed them before he handed them out, he thought.
The side door opened, and a medical assistant appeared. "Anita Bloom?" she called out.
The black woman set aside her magazine, conspicuously leaving on the table for others to read, and followed the assistant into the doctor's office. More out of boredom than curiosity, Criss picked it up and browsed through it. The watercolor lithograph cover showed people in various stages of dress, from Muslim women in full chador and hijab to American teens in miniskirts and tube tops. The boldly lettered caption read What Does the Bible Say About MODESTY?
Criss tossed the pamphlet aside. I know what the Bible says about modesty, he said to himself. It says cover your ass or go to Hell, that's what it says! What's the big hangup about the human body, anyway? Adam and Eve were both naked in the Garden of Eden, and they wern't ashamed. The body's not evil--it's the way we treat it! These people need to lighten up a little!
Suddenly he recalled what his brother, JD, said about the YouTube post of him in the shower, and his own shocked reaction. Was he being a hypocrite? No, he told himself. He was upset over the invasion of his privacy than his embarrassment over being naked. Now I know how Tommy Lee felt when he and Pam saw those videos they made go public. I am so going to kill Kevin or whoever posted that tape for this! he vowed.
The side door opened again. "Criss?"
Criss rose and followed the medical assistant to a small examining room. A threadbare hospital gown lay neatly folded on the examining table. "Just change into this gown," the assistant instructed, "and the doctor will be with you shortly." She left quietly, closing the door behind her.
Away went the collection of silvery pendants from around his neck and rings from his fingers. Off came the heavy combat boots. Up and over went the gray Affliction t-shirt. Down went the ragged jeans, followed by the CK briefs. Criss folded his clothes neatly and set them aside, hiding his bling inside them. He then struggled valiently to cover his naked self with the awkwardly designed white hospital gown that left half his body exposed no matter which way he put it on. Exasperated, he stripped it off entirely and tied it around his waist like a cotton loincloth. Then he hopped onto the exam table and tried to relax.
A knock on the door, then Dr. Melinda Shyne appeared. "Hello, Criss," she greeted him cordially. "Nice to see you again."
"Nice to see you, too, Doc," Criss replied.
Dr. Shyne set her clipboard aside, turned, and did a double take when she saw the unorthodox way her patient was wearing the hospital gown. Criss merely shrugged. "What?" he deadpanned. "It works for me."
The good doctor decided not to make a federal case of it; she had a full caseload of patients to see that day and she didn't want to waste time arguing about the proper way of donning a hospital gown. Instead, she merely got down to business. "Okay, fine," she sighed resignedly. "Let's get started, shall we? I need you to sit up for me."
Criss sat up. Dr. Shyne performed the preliminary exam: She took his temperature with a digital thermometer; she wrapped a blood pressure cuff around one bicep and pumped it up, then released it. She laid a stethescope on his broad shoulders, scarred faintly from the hooks impaled into his flesh years ago, to check his lungs, then onto his chest to measure his heartbeat. Criss remained indifferent through it all; it was no big deal, at least so far. It was what came next that unnerved him.
"All right, take off your gown and lie on your back," Dr. Shyne ordered him as she pulled on a pair of latex gloves.
Criss did as he was told. He pulled off his cotton gown from his hips and lay naked on the paper-lined exam table. "Try to relax, okay?" Dr. Shyne said as she carefully probed for any signs of cancer or other unusual growths or lesions on the single part of his anatomy that thousands of female Loyals would have sold their souls to catch a glimpse of. "Have you had any unusual discharges or pain while urinating?" she asked as she felt his genitalia for anything out of the ordinary. "Notice any swelling or anything?"
She's a professional, he reminded himself, fighting his nervousness. It's nothing personal; it's all part of the examination. "No, nothing."
Satisfied that the equipment was in perfect working order, Dr. Shyne ordered Criss off the exam table. "We need to do a prostate exam next," she told him.
Criss blanched. He knew what that meant. "Hope you trimmed your nails," he said.
Dr. Shyne ignored the quip and took out a tiny packet of lubricant. "Okay, assume the position," she ordered him.
Criss bent over double, leaning on the exam table. Dr. Shyne applied the lubricant. "Now, just relax and push against my finger," she instructed him.
Just relax, she says, Criss thought sarcastically. I'm getting cavity searched here and she tells me to relax! She's--OH (BLEEP)!
Criss braced himself against the exam table as Dr. Shyne probed around inside him for any tumors. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, she withdrew. Criss stood upright, relieved the ordeal was over. The doctor peeled off the gloves and recorded the data on the chart. "Well, that part of the exam is over," she said almost cheerfully. "You can get dressed now. We need you to go to the lab and give us some samples of your blood and urine, then you got a stress test in East Wing."
"Fine," Criss said, exhaling heavily. "Later."
Dr. Shyne left. Criss dressed in record time, happy to be getting out of there. A stress test in the East Wing, he said to himself. As if what I went through wasn't stressful enough!