“A little weird, so…” He gestures to my nose, points what looks like an airbrush at my face. To numb me, he says, to numb the insides, the nasal canal.
I have told him about the problems I sometimes have with my right ear, the way everyone’s voices become echoey, the way I can hear my heartbeat, hear myself breathe, that moving my jaw around like I’m some sort of dead-faced Mask-era Jim Carrey makes it occasionally start or stop. I’m at a Japanese hospital, one that even touts itself as international. Like all places and services tolerant of and/or designed for foreigners in Japan however, today I’m the only American there.
He sprays it up there, the little paint well filled with piss-colored anesthetic, some primordial nasal date rape to get me acquainted with the idea of his foot-long thick-spaghetti-sized endoscope travelling up (and then down) my nose/throat/whatever. I literally see him lube it up in front of me, but I’m looking past the blob of viscous gloop and to the TV monitor, upon which is projected the image from the end of the endoscopic camera. “Maybe we can even take a look at your vocal cords,” he says gleefully as he slides it in. I watch him part the hairs of my nose from inside, a red sea, then vague images of pulsing matter. “Your eustachian tubes are fine!” A droplet of cold lube drips down from one nostril but I cannot speak or move, all Neo-from-the-Matrix only the fucking thing is down my throat instead of in a port at the back of my neck. I can’t remember if I’m breathing, the images get stranger and stranger as I start focusing less on the TV and more on the fact that I just want the goddamned thing out, but he cannot get enough. “Look at this! Do you see this opening! This is where blah blah blah whatever man I want it out. I cough on it, feels like someone’s got a hunk of Twizzlers stuffed down there, but this man is all glee.
“Remember we said we’d look at your vocal cords!” He shoves it down further and I’m being mined for precious ore, all I can muster is a vague gesture, an anemic dual-handed kung-fu push-off, a geriatric Hadouken, eyes half-squinted but transfixed on the peculiar images on TV, pull it out pull it out jesus christ!
“Look at the vocal cords! Say one two three four five! AHAHAH!!!!” He is actually literally saying this. He is a maniac. Then he says “enough?” as he twists the fucking thing, I am gagging, there is a Wendy’s Frostie maker in my sinuses, then it’s out like a T-1000 metal rod, gel dripping out my nose.
All I can muster is a “jeez, sorry.” His expert diagnosis: we don’t have any specific treatment, whoops! I tell him, I need to, you know, I gotta talk to teach, I gotta hear the volume of my voice. He laughs! He laughs at me! “Maybe your own solution works well enough,” he says, and I assume he’s referring to my swinging my jaw around like it’s connected with a slack balljoint. I tell him no, no it doesn’t really, and that is it. In Japan I pay only 30% of the bill for their trouble, a scant ￥810 for the privledge of violation. I have, upon further review, made far worse personal decisions in this life than this.
Later, after being “cured,” I sought retail therapy with Jessy. We came away with a festival bounty, Mark III, a ten-ton walrus stuffed with goodies: UNIQLO clothing. A book and DVD set about a Japanese cat named Maru (book title “I am Maru”) who is famous for being lazy, sliding in boxes, and doing stupid shit while looking cute, or in other words, famous for being a cat. Two separate ass-whipping gashapons (Eva Unit 01 and a “Lunar Rabbit” girl Mina with a giant carrot weapon), the best ones of each set on our first try. A bag full of snacks from “Donki,” which is a store which bears the actual name for some reason of “Don Quixote.” Chicken and egg okonomiyaki, a variety of dumb shit from the 100-yen store, and a spicy homemade stir-fry donburi capped the evening.
At night, I listen for the wails of the doctor, and sense the slick black endoscopic plastic slithering along my tatami. It cries “this is not the last time, this is not the end.”