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Ask Dr. Rich
Rich Simons | Upper East 11th Street


Every month Rich Simons answers readers'
most perplexing questions.  Photo illustration Art Olson
Click on image to enlarge.


Q: Do you maintain regular office hours? If so, how can I contact you?

At my age (don’t ask) I am retired from regular practice, but I am available for emergencies and other extemporaneous events. The following incident is an excellent example: Sometime back at a concert my wife and I were attending, something occurred that you might think happens only in movies. In the middle of the allegro a lady stood up and shouted “Is there a doctor in the house?!” The allegro suddenly turned pianissimo and then multo muerto. Again the woman shouted, louder than before: “Is there a doctor in the house?!” Of course I rushed into action. As it happened I was in the back of the forum and by the time I reached the afflicted lady two gentlemen who asserted they were doctors (but did they present any credentials? . . . noooooooo) had the patient supine on the linoleum, and were waving a copy of the evening’s program past her nose, apparently in the hope that the redolence of the ink might revive her.

I knew I had to do something so I dove quickly into the bag that I always carry with me. Observing the patient’s age, I thought a touch of nostalgia might do the trick. So I told her the one about the farmer who said his goat had lost his nose, then the one about the new coat that was too short, and a few of the like. Unsurprisingly, the patient was unresponsive. After all, that is what killed vaudeville.

I knew I had to up my game, so I reached for the folder labelled “Shaggy Dog Stories.” I began with the classic where a priest, a rabbi and a minister all wander into a bar at the same time. There are many variations of this, as you know. I went with the popular one where they all set out to convert grizzly bears. But after just a few more of these classics I understood we had a very serious situation on our hands. The two purported docs were still fanning away to no avail - if it was redolence they were after, they might have tried the latest issue of the Sandpiper.

Anyway, I understood that desperate measures were called for and so I did what I seldom do, and always with great reluctance - I opened the little box marked “puns”. It also says “Handle With Care.” Understanding the inherent dangers of such material, I only went with the tried and true. You know the ones: “People who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones.”; “Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.” No response. Nada. I knew then what I had to do. and I hated myself for it. I was going to have to speak aloud the worst pun that I know. But before I commit it to print, I want you to know this was told to me by a fellow originally from England who lived a long time in our village but who tragically passed away recently. I tell you this because when it comes to puns I believe in assigning blame where blame is due. I’m sure my old friend would understand. Anyway, here it is (you might want to stop reading at this point):

Actually, I am only going to give you the”punch line” and let you supply whatever “run up” or “back story” you want. You need only to know that it should involve a picnic in the French countryside, in a place close to a waterfall and a small stand of trees. So with that, here is the punch line (drumroll, please!): . . . “Oh, look! There is Monet asleep ‘twixt the copse and the leap!”

No sooner had I delivered this line than the patient’s eyelashes began to flutter, then her lids began to open. Then her eyes began to move, almost desperately seeking something. They locked on me. Her trembling arm rose and she pointed a damning finger in my direction. Then she said, (a bit louder than necessary I thought): “GET THAT MAN OUT OF HERE! NOW!” My mission accomplished, I of course retreated. I tried to contact the lady a number of times afterward, but she persistently refused my calls.

Well, that’s it. That’s pretty much how my “practice” goes nowadays. I am also available for birthdays, weddings and bar mitzvahs.



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