In only 10 minutes, my patient had come to hate me, and who could blame her? I had frowned at her blood pressure, rolled my eyes at her weight, clucked at her blood sugar readings, asked some pointed questions about her drinking habits and pointed out the possible relationship between her chronic stomachaches and her tourniquet-tight jeans.
This must be why I don’t go to doctors.
First she just looked miserable and guilty, but by the time I got around to asking exactly what she had eaten for dinner the night before, she had become downright hostile. "Cheesecake," she spat out, with venom.
I am guessing there is a problem with this response. Cheesecake, being a dairy product, does not last forever even with good refrigeration. It’s either eat it or throw it out.
Under the circumstances, there was only one thing to say, and I didn't hesitate for a second. "By the way," I said, "I've been meaning to tell you, I love what you've done with your hair."
Somehow this approach doesn’t work with my wife. She still insists on returning to the insulting remark that got me in hot water to start.
We were taught to call them lubricating comments: little morsels of oleaginous verbiage tucked into the usual miserable catechism to ease it along a little.
Lubricating comments, huh? No, don’t think I will go there . . .
When does it all stop? I like your tie. You like my sense of humor. I appreciate your punctuality. You love my pen. Look, I'm sorry but I have run out of things to like about you, and I hate your cholesterol. Can we get back to work?
So much for the verbal foreplay, now it’s down to business.