Jewish World Review March 21, 2002 / 8 Nisan, 5762

Andrei Codrescu

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Sacred ritual | My sacred Sunday ritual takes me to the coffee-house with a stack of newspapers. I sit at my table, which is sometimes occupied by a parvenu tourist I disintegrate with my death-ray until he moves, and then I scan the world in order of importance: book reviews, fashion ads, local murders, international news, the opinion biz.

This month my ritual was violated. I had just licked the foam off my capuccino and gotten to an advert for Bod featuring barely legal waifs in ripped workshirts, when two women who could have been the waifs' mothers, burst in still jogging and surrounded a handsome young man who'd been typing on his laptop next to me.

"You gotta take out this mole, doc!" Jogger No. 1 pulled down the strap of her wet leotard and showed the young man something I tried to ignore.

"I want another lift! And a prescription for Zyban!" No. 2 shouted this with evident pride.

No. 1 confirmed No. 2's need for Zyban. "She ran a marathon sounding all the way like a bag of rocks was rattling in her chest."

I then found out that the leader of the marathon behind whom they had ran, had a circle of "gross-looking" black moles on his back, that they were overdue for another chemical peel and a lift, that liposuction was G-d, and that after they finished their morning jog, they were going sailing on a boat full of champagne and hors d'oeuvres belonging to an investor in their startup.

The young doctor nodded happily, and asked them if they'd seen Megan's new lips yet. They hadn't but they couldn't wait. "Yeah," said the doc," I took them out of her a--."

My delicate morning balance tilted precariously. It went completely Overboard, though, when No. 1 leaned over and the doctor took a pair of scissors out of his Vuitton case. He brought them to her face and started removing stitches. They were close enough for whatever he was taking out of her face to end up in my cappuccino.

"Look," I said, "can't you do this in private?"

"I'm only a resident," the Doc said shyly, pulling another strand of something I didn't want to see from the cheery woman, "but the good thing is it costs you half or one-third of what it might if you went to an established clinic. And it's better if you do it before July." The reason for that, he explained, was that the residents who freelanced cosmetic surgery started in January and finished in July when a batch of inexperienced young ones took over. Beginning in July, chances were that your face might be a training ground and end up looking like cappuccinos foam until they figured it out.

What made me ask him for his card? I love my wrinkles. But then there were the Lolitas in the ads. I skipped right to the editorials. Weighty thinkers with weathered faces were opining on the old, twisted world there.

Everything there was where it should be: the broken world, the starving refugees, the hunger-distended bellies of children in the war zones, people running from terror.

The doc wrote me his phone number on a torn piece of newspapers. He was too young to have a card.

JWR contributor Andrei Codrescu is the author, most recently, of Casanova in Bohemia. Comment by clicking here.


02/22/02: Invasion of the Nanny-seekers
02/08/02: The body of liberty

© 2002, Andrei Codrescu. This column first appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered"