"Do you have any dentures, false teeth, metal in your mouth?"
"Just my fillings," I open my mouth, to show her.
The nurse nods, and leaves the room.
"Myer, right?" I hear bellowed from down the hall. An enormous white guy in a walrus moustache and balloon cap covered with cute little cartoons rolls into the tiny room.
His voice fills the room, bounces down the hall, blows up the curtains on other rooms along the way.
"Born in '68, huh?"
"I was in Southeast Asia then. Getting shot at. Bombs dropped on me." He's looking at my chart. "Have any dentures, false teeth?"
"You digging this rain? 'Course, they don't have rain here, not really. I'm from Texas. If it's raining in Texas and you're under an overpass, you stop the car and get out of it, else you're gonna drown."
He's leading me and Mr. Billy to the operating room, telling a story of a rainstorm in New Mexico. At the door, he stops and tells Mr. Billy how to get to the waiting room.
"Now say goodbye, kiss kiss."
I kiss Mr. Billy, and he squeezes my hand.
"You're from Utah, huh?" The giant vet in the cartoony headgear leads me to an inner waiting room, stopping to put a blue hat like his over my hair. "I knew a girl from Utah. Mormon. Everyone was trying to score with her. Me, I was just friends with her. We went hiking once, and she looked me over, guessed my size. Next thing I know I get a package in the mail, she's knit me a sweater. Fit perfectly. I showed it to all the guys, Ha, I said, you didn't get anywhere with her, but she knit me a sweater. This is where you get off."
He waves his hand at a chair, and disappears through the doors.
"Do you have any dentures?" A nurse in another blue mushroom hat asks. I shake my head. Another nurse comes in. "Are you my replacement?" asks the first. The second nods, and the first hands over my chart. "I just started the interview."
"Do you wear dentures?" the second nurse asks.
The anesthesiologist comes in, asks if I wear dentures. Tells me about the anesthetic. "You might wake up with a sore throat," he says, "from the breathing tube."
A resident, assisting the surgeon, sits down across from me. "Any dentures?" He went to med school with a friend of mine. He's young, but says he's been in residency six years.
Another nurse asks if I wear dentures. "What procedure are we doing today?"
"Exploratory laparoscopy," I say, "to begin with. He might open me up further, depending what he finds."
"Laparoscopy?" she looks up at me, "Are you sure?"
She confers with another nurse. "It says laparotomy here. You'd better get down there and straighten this out."
There's a big difference, I think, between laparotomy and laparoscopy. At least I don't have dentures.