Monday, March 03, 2008
Rings and Strings
When I was a med student on my first surgery rotation, I was taken with the coolness of how the surgeons tied all manner of baubles into the drawstrings of their scrub pants. Rings, watches, bracelets. It just screamed "I'm a surgeon, and you're not." So I did the same thing. And carried it on, halfway through my career. It's one of those things surgeons do, like carrying a stethoscope in their pocket rather than around the neck. Pockets populate scrubs like rabbit holes: for one thing, the outfits are generally reversible, with the same pocket pattern inside as outside; for another, many styles of shirts have not only the usual breast pockets, but at least a couple extras at the lower hemline. Storage? We got it everywhere. But you tie stuff into the drawstrings, because that's what you do. Maybe it's to draw attention to one's genitals: shiny things -- in our genes it is written to turn our eyes toward them.
In our fourth year of med school, one of my pals was on his obstetrics rotation. Called to the ER to evaluate a woman with some problem or other, he left her up in those medieval stirrups while waiting for the resident to come and check his findings. Restive and bored, standing there between the lady's knees with time (and lube?) on his hands, he chose that moment to put his ring and watch back on. As he distractedly began untying his drawstrings he happened to cross eyebeams with his patient, and noticed she was recoiling in dread as she witnessed a man apparently untying himself while well within her personal space. "Oh no, no, no," he said, "I'm sorry, it's not...I was just, y'know, putting on my... I'm not..." But there was no recovery.
Without any deep thought (not a huge priority, this), somewhere along the line, a few years ago, I stopped tying up my bling. It's such a cliche´really. Have all those pockets: why not use 'em. Which was fine until, in the wee hours of a long late night, with bleariness aforethought I tossed my scrub shirt -- wedding ring in the pocket -- into the laundry bin after surgery and staggered home. By the time I got there, realized it, and called the OR to request they "hold the bag," it had already been taken away by the housekeeping staff. Calls to every responsible place failed to stop the inevitable: it was never seen again, at least not by me. It wasn't particularly fancy, but I'd designed it and a matching one for my wife; had 'em made...
So I'm of two minds.