This is a fictional story - the July 1st prompt of Just Write - a 31 day challenge of the facebook group "A Cache of Words Writers Group" was:
You have just been asked by your doctor if you would like to participate in the Fife Diet. You will be compensated and it is said to improve your health. What is your answer? Why or why not?
Dr. Moorland has what my mom refers to as "salt and pepper" hair. I’m noticing the state of his hair for two reasons: 1): He can’t be more than thirty and he’s already graying – fast; 2): He has what what appears to be cooked cornmeal stuck in it just above his left ear.
As he stares at his computer screen, I can't stop looking at it and it's freaking me out a little.
“So what made you come in today, Mrs…”
“Rodriguez,” I say. Don’t look at the cornmeal, I tell myself. Look somewhere else. Look at those sanitary q-tips in the jar. Focus on those.
“What makes you come in today?” He looks up and smiles at me, and it’s no use.
“I think you have cornmeal in your hair,” I say, motioning above my own ear, hoping I won't offend him.
He touches his head self-consciously. “Unfortunately, that is wood putty.” He looks embarrassed at first, but then gives a perfectly reasonable explanation. “We’re going through a house renovation right now and my eighteen month old did this right as I was leaving for work. I tried to take it out, but it dried and now I’m afraid it has to be cut out. I see the barber after you…”
I am trying not to giggle. The story is funny and I am actually relieved my new doctor is not a slob.
“I came in to see if you’d be a good choice for my primary care physician,” I say, after I gain my composure.
“Does this help me or hurt me?” he asks, pointing to the glop of wood putty stuck in his hair.
“It makes no difference to me,” I say, as he continues to study his computer screen.
Dr. Moorland suddenly furrows his brow and switches subjects. “Mrs. Rodriguez, I hope you don’t mind me mentioning this on your first visit to me, but you seem slightly anemic.”
The doctor is putting my low-iron mildly; “slightly anemic” is not how Doctors usually describe me. They usually ask if I have fainting spells or weakness. For some reason, my body repels iron and my initial blood tests are always a cause for concern.
“Yeah,” I say, trying to be nonchalant. Before I can explain that I haven’t bought supplements in awhile , Dr. Moorland suggests something strange.
“Would you like to participate in the Fife Diet?” He searches his pockets for something and eventually pulls out a folded pamphlet that looks like it’s been laundered. He hands it to me, adding "It’s a diet that originated in Scotland."
“Oh,” I don’t know how to respond, but the cover has my interest: jars of legumes, cauliflower cous cous, a row of farmed tomatoes ; the Fife diet looks organic, much like the diet I already have. The pamphlet looks interesting.
“A few of us doctors are assembling a group of patients with a variety of health concerns like yours. You know blood issues. This eating plan may be a wise choice for you.”
“Well…” I begin to tell him about my own diet, a recent change has led me down quite a disciplined, organic path.
“The secret of the Fife Diet,” he is leaning forward and his eyes are lit up like diamonds. “is the minerals that the body can absorb. Minerals that you, Mrs. Rodriguez, are clearly deficient in.”
“Yeah, well, I'll research this.”
“What’s to research?" He asks. His voice takes on a new edginess that makes me uncomfortable. "Shall I sign you up now? I can even give you the shopping list while you’re here!”
I shake my head at him.
He seems disappointed by my response and then suddenly remembers something: “I forgot!” he says, brightly. “You will be compensated!” He swivels in the doctor’s stool like a little boy.
“Oh.” I am now seriously considering picking up my purse and walking out of the room, but I’m not in any real danger and decide to stay put. “I’ll think about it.”
“Yeah, do.” He seems excessively earnest and I try to smile.
“Well,” he says, standing up and walking over to the table. “I should examine you. Please lay down.”
“Actually…” I shrug my shoulders and laugh sheepishly. I’ve never been skilled at exiting an awkward situation gracefully. “I think I’d like to just … go.”
“Oh, why?” Dr. Moorland looks offended, and crosses his arms in front of him. I am in a typical examination dressing gown, so I can’t very well stand up and leave, but I decide to call our visit to a close.
“No offense, but I don’t know if…”
“We’d be a good fit as Doctor-patient?”
“Okay.” It is an awkward silence and I feel my face turn red. Dr. Moorland is frozen for a nano-second and then brightens. “Well, I guess I’m off to the barber’s then.”
“Oh! Good luck with that!”
“Yeah.” He leaves the room quickly, without even saying goodbye. Before I can hop off the table to get fully dressed, he pops his head back in. “Oh! I need that pamphlet back!”
I look down at my hands and realize I am gripping the worn pamphlet like a security blanket. “Oh!” I hand it to him and he looks at me suspiciously.
“You need to consider this diet, Mrs. Rodriguez.”
“Okay.” I say, a little nervously. He exits quickly again, this time shutting the door.
I jump off the table and start to take off my dressing gown, but I open the door and peek outside to the hallway. Dr. Moorland is nowhere to be seen, thank God. I pop my head back in and shut the door all the way. After a moment, I decide to lock it.
Just in case.