The Sicilian Doctor’s Tale
toilet was plugged up. I had left the bathroom, came back, and there it was – a
still pool of murky water, staring back at me. I flushed the toilet a second
time. Maybe it just didn’t hear me the first time. That didn’t work. I tried
do you do when a toilet is unresponsive – give it mouth-to-mouth?
do you yell it at for fear of waking up Her in the bedroom sleeping. Silence
is best. Unfortunately, something had
to be done. Unfortunately, I was the one who had to do something. I was the
last one who used the toilet. I looked again at the toilet bowl. Unresponsive,
murky water. I could call a plumber or a urologist. Expensive. There had to be
a way out. We had a toilet bowl plunger in the basement. It would get all
coated with you know what and then I’d have to clean it off. I could do
nothing. That was an option. I could just walk away from it and say it never
happened. I could blame Her if She tried blaming me. I could avoid her and the toilet
altogether, have nothing to do with it until it somehow got fixed, maybe by
kind of man would do a thing like that? I’d been to several movies lately and
thought of the men in them. In one movie I just saw, there was a young guy in a
fast car driving on a winding, mountainous road. He comes upon a country
bumpkin driving a pickup truck very slowly. The bumpkin screws with him, not
letting him pass. But the young man finally does pass the bumpkin and flips him
off and laughs. Later the young guy gets a flat tire. The bumpkin catches up to
him just as the fast young guy in the smart car is nearly finished changing the
tire. He confronts him. The young fellow hides in the car. Was I that kind of
guy? Then the bumpkin smashes the smart car’s windows, the young guy pushes the
pickup truck into a ravine, the men fight and eventually there is a big
explosion and both men die. Great movie.
I the wimpy young man who hid in his car while the bumpkin smashed the windows
and took a shit on the smart car while the young guy hid? I hoped not. So I
decided to think of another movie.
movie there is a big tough, beefy gangster who is extorting money from a
wishy-washy schlemiel. The beefy gangster wants to break his arms and legs, but
instead brings in a scarecrow from the fields and shoots it to pieces in front
of the schlemiel’s house. Eventually the schlemiel pays up. That’s the kind of
tough guy I want to be – a tough but smart guy who shoots scarecrows and lets
other people clean up plugged up toilets.
gangster explained to the schlemiel, “See that-a dog? It could-a be you.”
I went about my business in the house, carefully avoiding the toilet and any
mention of it. She got up, went to the bathroom, and later on we had breakfast.
Who’s to say She didn’t plug it up last night? Women’s bodies are much more
complicated than men’s. A man’s body has very simple functions. It is like an
old-fashioned toilet with a pull chain. A woman’s body is like a sewage
treatment plant, with digesters, aeration tanks, filters, clarifiers and
headworks. It is infinitely more complicated and has a multitude of waste
byproducts. Logically, She was the one who plugged it up in the first place. Logically,
She should step forward and volunteer to unplug it. The beefy gangster in me
realized all this, could see through the fallacy of getting the plunger from
the basement, and was content to let the situation play itself out.
it did. We spent the entire day in silence. Her, making a number of trips to
the bathroom, me pretending not to pay attention while I listened for the
sounds of flushing. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in silence. We watched
television in silence. We went to bed in silence.
the middle of the night She sat up in bed and said, “Honey?”
anything the matter?”
are you screaming?”
wanted to tell you about a movie I saw.”
liked movies. Movies reveal character. I was all ears. Movies have an outside
story which is for entertainment purposes, to get you to follow along. And they
have an inside story.
was this guy. He had erectile dysfunction. So he goes to a doctor and tells the
doc about a ‘friend’ of his who can’t get it up. He explains that his friend is
too embarrassed to come to the doctor and talk about it, so he volunteered to
do this for his ‘friend.’ The doctor said not to worry, erectile dysfunction could
be the result of lots of things – poor blood flow, hypertension, an overall
feeling of not being manly, wimpiness, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy
around women, guilt that his penis is smaller than average, the worry that
he’ll come prematurely and the woman will laugh at his pathetic performance and
go out and find a real stud to take his place.”
this big strong man realized that all of this was happening because he was
hiding something from his wife. And as soon as he stopped hiding this thing,
which wasn’t all that big, his manliness returned and they made passionate love
and the movie had a happy ending. “
made a movie like that?”
I just made that up. I saw an ad about ED on televison. I know you like movies,
so I decided to put it all into a story.”
for a while there I thought she had me.
how you make up stories.”
hmm, like the story you create about the plugged up toilet. There is no plugged
up toilet. We know what there is, don’t we?”
and it’s alright. I’ve told you.” She turned the light on. “It’s alright,
alright if you go see the doctor. See?”
was prepared to go get the plunger.
a big strong guy on the outside. In the outside world. But this is the inside
world. This is the world that I’m pretty good at. Will you do that for me?”
don’t make things up.”
put her hand on my toilet plunger to see if it would, you know, get
plunge-worthy. It just sat there like a slippery but lifeless eel.
there’s this big, beefy gangster type who, for reasons unexplained, stops
having erections. He has an understanding wife from Sicily who tells him that
lots of men from Sicily have had this problem, and it usually stems from eating
angel-hair pasta and sun-dried tomatoes and lots of Chianti. He goes to his
Sicilian doctor in Sicily and confesses his problem. The Sicilian doctor puts
his arm around the beefy hero’s shoulders and says, ‘I-m-a gonna show you a
movie. The guy – he could-a be you.”
the Sicilian doctor shows him a movie about toilet plungers that explains the
in Italian. With subtitles.
Paul Smith writes poetry
& fiction. He lives in Skokie, Illinois with his wife Flavia. Sometimes he
performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago. He believes that brevity is the soul
of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should
be cut in half immediately.