She said, "Pardon me for saying this , but why is it that medical doctors' handwriting is so illegible? "Well, I said "It's because we are taught to write badly. In the second year medical school class the course, How to Write Bad 201 is taught"
" How can that be ?" she said credulously. I waited for a glint of humor in those eyes, but it didn't appear.
"Well" I said, piling it on, "We can't be held responsible for what we write, since no one else can read it but us."
" Good heavens." she said, "I didn't know that. I looked for any sign of amusement, but there was none in that serious mien.
Up the ante was my way to deal with the matter. Surely in that stretch she would see that I was joking. "Yes" I said, "and in the course in third year medicine, how to Mumble 301 is taught. Hence we complete the skill set, how to communicate without doing so. That way we avoid any trouble such as , 'You said this or that ! ' "
"Well " she said as she rose from the table, " I'm glad you told me that ! " I could see immediately that I was in deep trouble. She didn't get it. My humor fell flat. To disavow it now would be disingenuous and reaffirm what she probably wished to believe in the first place. I had just trashed myself and medicine in the face of an attempt at ill-advised humor in the wrong arena. Some insight would suggest that I was a smart-ass.
I could imagine the furtive looks of disgust from the assembly of conference attendees in the coffee hour later. I slunk away and listened to the rest of the conference in the shadows. As so many of my loved ones have said to me before, " Why can't you ever be serious for once?"