My Internist Who Is Also My Cosmetologist


My internist who is also my cosmetologist was telling me about the dangers of tanning beds that could like almost completely erase the thoughts that were going on in your head, like kill the brain cells as if your head had been struck by something and you’d woken up in a bathtub full of ice but it wasn’t your kidneys that were missing but thoughts. And then she was telling me about the positive benefits of tanning. And then she was telling me about another kind of tanning or whatever where there were these pills you could take that start turning your organs a lighter color, not that blue and purple and nasty like snake-looking color that I’d seen on CSI but something like alabaster or mother of pearl—it hurt when you first started taking them but inevitably it would smooth over the passages and the food wouldn’t necessarily pass through easily but you’d feel great. My internist—my internist is great because she’s actually seen the real me, all the way to the inside, like, the actual inside, y’know? Like guys say they want to get up close, to see you, to practically put their eye up to your peep hole to see what’s going on in there, but this woman actually has seen me all the way through, with her lamps and stethoscopes and gelled monitors. One time I even looked up and saw a picture of my lower stomach x-rayed that looked like a nest of undigested weeds, like a bale of straw. The tough kind. It was reassuring.

My internist said she could probably recreate my pancreas from memory. My internist—my internist said she could probably find her way through my lower intestine like it was a neighborhood street from her childhood she didn’t even have to ask directions through, she just intuitively knew the way. My internist said she used to deal with medical appliances in a giant factory out in Van Nuys. She would arrange huge plastic tubes in their individual containers; she would load up big trucks with pipes and metal and debris that would be thrown away according to their composition. My internist said one time when she was out on a beach in Malibu she had seen a bleached skull coming up through the sand. She said she knew that at exactly that point she wanted to be an internist. You just look at all the little passageways in the skull, she said, and realized there’s just this giant amorphous hunk of Jell-O behind it. Then just think about what could be going on in the much wider space of your stomach, or your diaphragm, y’know, behind all the fake muscle. I had called her during a weekend in Cabo when I had jumped on a guy’s back and my belly button piercing had apparently penetrated through my stomach lining. She told me not to worry; that the body would naturally process it, like a tough piece of marrow or fat marble. It would just push its way out.

My internist, my internist is also my life coach sometimes, you know, she gives me straight advice, she tells me not to worry. I tell her about all the acting roles I’ve been getting recently that sort of bother me. The kind where directors, with tiny goatees and backwards Kangols and starched shirts that have a giant vine stitched onto the arm that extends onto the neck, seem to just be preoccupied with killing me through some sort of make-believe monster, some werewolf. But it isn’t all make believe and pretend, I tell her, they actually kill me with hatred and viciousness and put their boot or foot or claw or whatever on my throat and I have to wait and count to around fifteen before they let it up. I can’t ask to let it up. Then someone will come in and hose me with a fine mist of fake blood. My internist tells me not to worry, that the blood they use on sets is actually some composite of tomato soup, or some sort of naturopathic mixture of dyes and sometimes even with a ginseng blend thrown in to get the skin looking a little stimulated when it goes on. Maybe a bit of amyl, I don’t know. She tells me not to worry about getting killed because my insides are just as complete and beautiful as my outsides. My internist knows. She’s seen the worst or I guess by extension the best, none of these false pockets that boyfriends only see and then never fully comprehend and ask me for a “fiver” later. Never only the half-realized crannies and pits that these guys look for, from teen years until now in the back movie lot, thinking about “girls” that are ruined when their body is “finished” and asking if you can fake a “pubescent incompleteness.” They want access only partially, they want it shallowed out to love only the negative space in the front. My internist asks for no money beyond the basic fee. She knows the true cost of things as they are.