Anna and the Hawkeye Nation
It seems from talking to people, many of you are fans of stories involving my dogs
or my social awkwardness around women when I was younger. Strangely, both
types of stories usually end with my humiliation. If I can ever find a book publisher,
I am sure my second and third books will be solely devoted to these stories.
While I have many stories about women that I will never be able to tell in this
column because they are beyond the pale of good taste, this one is right on the
margins. It is really clutching the side of the life raft. Because we are all adults here
and the story involves a medical procedure, I am going to use the proper medical
terminology for this body part, which I believe is called the “Iowa Hawkeye”.
I had a huge romantic streak in my teens and early twenties. Still do. I used to have
massive crushes on young women. Back then, there was no internet. If you were
going to humiliate yourself, you had to do it face to face or on the phone, which took
courage. Thankfully, my spine of Jello made sure this seldom happened.
I love smart women with a sense of humor. Always have. I had developed a crush
on a young girl named Anna. Beautiful, charming, nice, she had it all. She was even
the homecoming queen of her high school. In other words, out of my league.
She always had a Ken doll boyfriend, usually named Cooper, Dylan or Bryce, with a
personality to match. Still, I loved talking to her and would go over to her house
about every week. I was the Duckie in her Pretty in Pink world. Her dad and mom, a
nurse, tolerated me. Nicest people you could ever meet.
After college, I had a chance to move overseas. If you have ever lived overseas, you
know that most countries require a physical and several vaccinations a person
might otherwise not get. This requires time, which I did not have. I had a set date I
had to be there and once the physical was finished I still had all the governmental
hoops I needed to jump through.
I suffer from what is called “white coat blood pressure”. If you walk into an
examination room, put on a white coat and a nametag that says “doctor” and my
blood pressure climbs. Plus, I have always had the body of a god, back then it was
Thor and now it is Buddha. Because I was into weightlifting back then, it was always
problematic to get a blood pressure cup around my arm. Invariably, a nurse would
have to dig around and come back with something resembling an old woman’s
girdle to put around my arm. In turn, any blood pressure reading was always off.
Because of this and a liver enzyme report that was not accurate for some unknown
reason, what was a simple physical turned into a multi-week affair. Each time I went
in my blood pressure was higher. I had tests done that I did not know there were
even tests for. Each time I was passed on to a new specialist, just to be safe. Now
Sherlock Holmes could have deduced why my blood pressure was climbing, but he
did not have a new CT scan machine to pay for. None of them could find a thing
wrong with me, maybe because there was nothing wrong with me.
Finally, I was sent to the last specialist, who wanted to do one more exam that no
one had done previously. I was told not to eat for 24 hours before hand, and they
would explain everything to me when I got there.
Are you wondering what this procedure was? Find any gentleman over 50-years-
old and ask him what his most horrifying moment at a doctor was. Yep, I was going
to have that done. I know Americans think being a doctor is a glamorous lifestyle,
the big house, the nice car, the 18 holes of golf every afternoon, but if you are doing
this for a living, you deserve every penny.
I arrived at the clinic early and discovered the nurse who would be in the
examination room with me during this procedure was Anna’s mother. This woman,
whom I had visions of being my future mother-in-law, would have to see a part of
me I know that no one had ever seen before, except for my diaper changers. In my
mind I had images of future Thanksgiving meals together, the entire family, all her
other daughters and their husbands, and grandchildren gathered together, her
saying, “I love you all. You are the blessings of my heart, and some people do not
understand Trevor, but I have seen a side of him few others ever will.”
Now nudity in the Norwegian culture is not something we aspire to. I am pretty
sure our birthday suits came from JC Penny’s and we slid out of the womb wearing
them. So, a paper gown with your backside hanging out, looking like a treasure map
for the lost Dutchman’s mine is not exactly a confidence builder. I will never
understand why doctors think it is a good idea to put the air vent right behind the
wooden chair you are supposed to sit on before you are asked to climb on the table.
Why do they keep that cold, sterile white room at a temperature butchers store
meat. Which, as a man, makes your confidence even smaller.
The woman, who is my fantasy future mother-in-law, comes back into the room
with something that resembles a clear hot water bottle with a long tube coming out
of it. As a kid I remember my parents having one of these in the medical cabinet
behind the sink in the bathroom. I would blow as hard as I could into the tube to
make the hot water bottle expand. I thought it was cool. Now some of you are ahead
of me already and realize I was not a bright child.
She told me that inside her hot water bottle was Barium. It seemed like a lot of
Barium to me. I told her I did not think I could drink all that, but I was pretty good at
chugging beer. So, I would try. She laughed and shook her head no. It was then that
she used the word Iowa Hawkeye for the first time. Maybe my eyes were playing
tricks on me, but I swear that bag grew five or six times its original size after she
uttered the last syllable of Hawkeye. “Now climb on the table, lie down, and put your
knees to your chest, Trevor.”
Now, I thought about singing that great Broadway show tune Old Man River at what
I thought was the worst moment of my life. It was the worst moment of my life until
she removed the tube. Then, that became the worst moment of my life. The only way
I can describe what happened next is if you remember those old disaster movies
involving a group of people trying to escape a tropical island before the volcano
blows. The volcano is rumbling, the ground is shaking, and you know some poor sap
is going to die.
Now I truly believe that when clinics and doctors’ offices are designed, they
purposely put the restrooms twelve feet further from the examination rooms than
they need to simply for the entertainment of the doctors and nurses. I suspect they
also hire elderly people with canes and walkers to act like blocking obstacles in the
hallway as you are trying to make your way to the restrooms. How I made it to
safety before the volcano blew I will never know but I would testify in a court of law
I defied gravity that day, reacted Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon that day, and found
the quarter I swallowed when I was in second grade.
Worst moment of my life. That is until I returned. There is another part of this
procedure. They have to fill you with compressed air and again, the phrase “my
Iowa Hawkeye” was used. I truly believe a single tear rolled down my face like I was
Iron Eyes Cody and someone had just thrown a piece of garbage at my feet, all while
they used enough air to inflate the Hindenburg. They blow you up like the Michelin
man. In the soundtrack of my life this is where The Fifth Dimension would be
singing “Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon.”
It cannot get worse you think. Oh, it does. It does. The doctor showed me the
camera and turned on a small television screen just above my head so I could see
the entire Hawkeye nation and it is a bigger nation than you think. That is all I am
going to say about it. I fully expected Iowa Hawkeye’ sports announcer Jim Zabel to
appear out of thin air spurting out his catchphrase, “I love it, I love it, I love it,”
because I didn’t.
One small thing, when you have this procedure done they will not let you leave
until you give some of that Michelin Man’s air back, and they have to witness it. For
some unknown reason, they just are not willing to take your word for it. So, this
wonderful woman, this woman I hoped would be my future mother-in-law, has to sit
there until I whistle ”Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” except it was not a wonderful day and
plenty of sunshine was not heading my way.
The Pope, Mother Teresa, the President of the United States could have been in the
room and I could have trumpeted forth boldly, but with this woman in the room I
became Mr. Bashful. I had to do it, but I just could not, not in front of her. She
decided to let me go anyway, but I had to promise to come back if nothing happened
in the next few hours.
I put my clothes on. At least I could console myself that it could not get any worse,
as I trundled off to the parking lot. Then I saw HER! Walking down the hallway from
the parking lot was the girl of my dreams, Anna. She was coming to visit her mother.
She smiled at me. I smiled at her. The sun coming through the windows at that
moment captured her perfectly. Never was there a more beautiful creature. She
smiled at me. I smiled back at this angel brought to earth, and then, before I could
stop it, I unleashed the loudest and longest fart ever produced by any human being!
Worst moment of…