The End of the Table

Why are kids always sticky? Like they've got jam on their hands. Even though there's no jam in the house, they've always got jam on their hands. I am not the right guy to deal with that.

-Gilmore Girls

s Bill Maher points out, it's not technically true that children are our greatest resource. Actually, it's petroleum.

But for some reason, I never have the nerve to respond with this whenever I go in for my annual exam and my ob-gyn points out that I'm not getting any younger.

I rationalize that I'll never get pregnant because I refuse to take the gestational diabetes test (where, I'm told, you drink something that tastes like liquid Pez), because I can't bring myself to swallow anything unpleasant (a fact 72 percent of my former boyfriends will confirm.)

I imagine I'm a chronic disappointment, because she specializes in fertility. Consequently, I'm usually the only non-pregnant woman in the waiting room (which serves as its own form of birth control, as many moms are accompanied by screaming infants at their post-natal visits).

This year, I came prepared. (I don't mind that she runs late because I know if I were in labor, I wouldn't want her abandoning me for routine office visits.)

I'd brought along my laptop, my phone, and, of course, Twizzlers.

Once I got an exam room, I quickly set up my makeshift office.

I was comfortably reclining on a big pink pillow, typing tax info into an Excel spreadsheet, about the time Hop Sing, my former manservant called.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Just waiting for the ob-gyn."

"Uhhh....should I let you go then?" he asked tentatively.

Nahhhhh. I told him. It's not like I was busy. (They do all the work anyway; I usually just catch up on the new Vogue.)

"Well, I hate to interrupt," he hesitated, before adding, "Are you wearing a paper gown? Are your feet in the stirrups?"

Please. Where did he think I was? Calcutta?

My doctor thoughtfully equips her patients with all-cotton gowns (minimum 400-thread-count). And there's this little ottoman-like feature on the table, so you can prop your feet up (in pink booties).

Thus assured that he wasn't intruding in the least, he launched into the reason he'd called-to get my advice in resolving a labor dispute (now that he's in management, and far too busy to be my manservant anymore).

I cited a couple applicable statutes off the top of my head, while looking up the numbers of the two best labor attorneys in town (conveniently at the top of my speed dial-because their names begin with B).

Then there was a knock on the door.

"Do I need to let you go?" he inquired politely.

Nahhhh. I knew it probably wasn't her, so I just asked him to hold please.

I was right.

It was some unknown woman, who poked her head in and asked if I wanted her to do my exam.

"Uh, why," I asked, "did my check bounce?" which was the same thing I asked last year when another stranger made the same offer.

She looked confused before I stretched backwards and pushed the door closed with my fingertips, with a "No thanks, I'll pass," quickly returning to my phone call (which I hoped subtly and courteously indicated that I preferred to wait for a doctor, as opposed to say, a wandering pharmaceutical rep with time on her hands, or whoever she might've turned out to be).

I know HMOs are notoriously tight-fisted, but I don't think that should mean I have to let the janitor give me a pelvic.

I mean, if I'd been there for strep throat or something, that might've been an orifice where any nurse or P.A. would be welcome (and I'm sure they do fine work) ... but even I have certain standards of privacy and decorum and modesty, which require a modicum of familiarity.

Eventually, the doctor showed up- subjecting me to the usual inquisition about my social life for the past year.

Mostly, she wanted to know what happened to Dr. Impressive (whom she happened to know). Though she does have a legitimate medical, as opposed to prurient, interest in the details of my love life.

I admitted that it didn't work out, and that my friends still miss him desperately (but conveniently left out the part about how I think they would've liked anybody who came with his own prescription pad).

So mostly, my litany entailed the annual sad confession of my endless episodes of commitment "issues."

This year's, for example, involved one relationship ending when the insignificant other in question told the Blockbuster guy to add my name to his account...whereupon I quietly went outside to hyperventilate on the curb. Turns out, he did it for the perfectly plausible reason that I live closer to the store, and usually picked up the DVDs on the way over to his house.

And yet, I found his thoughtful gesture, somehow, smothering. Maybe he thought I was ready for this momentous step-since I already had a key to his house -but that was only for the very legitimate purpose of taking care of his dog (whom I still miss).

C'mon, I had to draw the line somewhere. One day it's a joint Blockbuster card. The next, it's a trip to the Vera Wang showroom.

My doctor pretends to disapprove of my neuroses, but secretly, I suspect she must see me as a prospective goldmine for outrageously expensive fertility treatments if my biological clock kicks in sometime around age 48.

I did console her with my firm resolution that this year, I have successfully managed to stick with men closer to my own age-so that if I do end up changing diapers in my 40s, at least they won't be my husband's.