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Dave Barry once wrote, “As an older male American, I believe that our No. 1 health care priority, as a nation, must be to make the medical profession find some way to get to the prostate gland other than the way they’re getting to it now.”

At 40 years old, I was introduced to the “elbows on the table” routine by the resounding snap of a latex glove and a doctor with fingers as long as ET or so it seemed, at least. And I think he was wearing his class ring, to boot. This indignity has now become a customary part of my annual physical, yet I still haven’t figured out how to “Relax! Relax!” whenever my trousers are spooled about my ankles.

Later, when describing this violation, most women are not at all sympathetic. In fact, I think I detect a certain smug satisfaction from them. Typically, the response I get is a long dissertation on the many episodes of embarrassing predicaments they’ve had to endure over the years. I’ve learned that instead of a comforting shoulder, most of my female acquaintances seem rather gleeful at the prospect of this twisted revenge on my gender. “You’re lucky that’s all you have to deal with!” they’ll exclaim before turning on their 4-inch heels and moving off in a huff.

Not that one ever becomes ambivalent in regards to “turning the other cheek” at the doctor’s (as it were), but traffic has gotten a lot busier back there now that I’m in my 50s. I have been avoiding a colonoscopy from the first moment it was described to me. I cannot understand why these demented physicians continue to insist on using my exit as an on-ramp.

But (pardon that pun) my juking and jiving away from this procedure is apparently coming to an end (pardon that one, too) as my wife, Kim, took it upon herself to call my doctor and set up a rendezvous with this infernal tool! And I’m sorry, but how do you trust someone who picks this for their line of work?

So, shortly after Thanksgiving, the good staff at Leominster Hospital is planning to send Phillipe Cousteau’s camera and sound crews up for a look-see at my nether regions. Kim is trying to mollify this indignity by telling me that I’ll be knocked out and won’t feel a thing. I envision coming to like a coed waking up in a frat-house bedroom after a night of GHB-laced cocktails. I won’t recall the demeaning treatment, but everyone else will be parading about with knowing smirks. I hope I don’t feel like having a cigarette.

Kim explained to me that this wonderful event begins with me ingesting a jug of something powerful enough to turn my insides out. I wish I had known about this purging exercise sooner. I could easily have summoned the Calypso crew to dive in after I returned from a trip to Guatemala a few years ago. And it’s finally over when they review the results with me a couple of weeks later. By the way, I don’t think I’ll be shaking the doctor’s hand.

I will, of course, try to make the best of this incredible experience. I plan to ask them for a few still photos as mementos of the occasion. Later, I’ll actually use these pictures for my Christmas cards this year along with a quote that reads something like, “As you can see, we toured Iraq this year ”

Gary Atkinson is 52, divorced and remarried. He has four children from 27 to 9 and has been living in Townsend for over a year. Working at Bemis in Shirley for 22 years, he’s active in his children’s activities, his wife’s busy shopping calendar and dodging contact with his ex. Gary can be reached at

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