Note: this is an older blogpost from my previous website, it was written in 2018.
If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, you think that the worst part is when the semi-consensual anal penetration is happening, but anyone who has had this procedure knows that part goes by quickly and you’re so drugged up that you really don’t care what’s happening to you. Instead, it’s the days, hours, minutes, seconds before the great invasion that are miserable. The preparation involves a 36-hour period of clearing out through fasting and taking strong laxatives to ensure that the bowel is shiny and clean for the camera. For those of us with serious intestinal issues, the experience is worse as we go from slightly to extremely malnourished within such a short period of time. When we arrive for the procedure we feel weak with hunger, dehydrated, dizzy, woozy, and nervous.
Now let me now set the stage for what was to become a definite top ten on my "Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life". I was brought into an operating room and told to lie on the paper-covered gurney. I was curled up on my side and shivering in my thin hospital gown which was wedged under my hip to avoid rear exposure. A nurse came along and opened the back of my gown, and she kindly covered the exposed area with a facecloth-sized towel. As I lay there eagerly waiting for the IV to be hooked up, I could hear people bustling about around me. I heard someone lift up my chart and then a cheerful yet perplexed voice uttered, “Natalie?... Natalie Lavers!?” This was clearly someone I knew! There was no escape, so in a meek voice I said, “Yes?”, to which he answered, “it’s me, Dwayne, from Royal West!”. A small part of me died right then and there.
Dwayne, the gorgeous guy with the hi-top who was a grade above me in high school. In grade 9, I had was the go-between for him and my friend Caroline when they were both into each other and I did my job dutifully: I passed the notes, I would speak to Dwayne on the phone at night and assure him that Caroline was into him, and I would speak to Caroline the next day and tell her everything he said. And what usually ends up happening to the person in my situation happened, I started liking him. This crush didn’t last long, it ended the way these things often do in high school, we all eventually found other people more interesting. There was no drama, no bad blood. I suppose he wasn’t the worst person from high school I could run into.
When seeing old friends and acquaintances, we hope to give off the impression that we’re living up to some expectations or that we’ve transformed ourselves into the accomplished person no one ever expected. And though the fear of being the disappointment at a high school reunion is so cliché, few of us can deny that we don’t have a desire to impress to some degree. In the early 90’s, when we prided ourselves on an aloof attitude and unhealthy lifestyle, I think there was a sub-conscious hope that we would shed that side of ourselves and a new, mature, well put-together person would emerge. When you encounter someone from school in your 30s while lying on a gurney, without saying anything you are saying, “My life did not quite turn out the way I wanted”.
As embarrassing as this was at the time, the truth is that Dwayne was really honest and sweet when he spoke to me. He seemed really happy to see me (not my best angle though) and we spoke as if we were running into each other on the subway. He was working as a technician at the hospital which is why he was reading my chart. That vulnerable position that I was in was perhaps overlooked by this hospital worker who sees patients as human beings with all kinds of stories, living many fortunate and unfortunate circumstances. In fact, though it was very brief, it was authentic, which I suppose is what we really should be after when encountering an old friend.
(a tweet from the Dalai Lama that I saw just after writing this)
This post was written in 2018 and brought over to my new website in 2021.