There is a lump on my left arm. I may have mentioned it before, I think, and it was you people who encouraged me to have it looked at. So I made an appointment.
The day before the appointment I went out for a few drinks. A small celebration of life. Prior to receiving the death sentence. So. You know. Quite a few drinks.
I can be quite good company after a few drinks.
And under these circumstances it is not entirely unusual to awaken the following morning in unfamiliar surroundings. In this instance it was a studio apartment located somewhere behind the Imperial Hotel. It was a small space, but clearly we had made the most of it. Around us were scattered empty glasses, bottles and discarded food containers. Likewise a box of chocolates lay sad and empty on the carpet and the little pieces of foil that had housed its treasures were strewn everywhere around the room. A bunch of flowers that I must have purchased in a moment of romantic desperation sat dehydrating on the window sill.
She lay there asleep. I didn’t recognise her and I saw no reason, therefore, to awaken her.
Reluctantly taking liberties in a stranger’s home, I crept to the bathroom and showered quietly. I was happy to find fresh towels. There was little choice but to use her toothbrush and deodorant. And then I had to stumble about in the semi-darkness searching for clothes. My jeans had made themselves at home on the floor in front of the TV and my shirt was located dozing arm in arm with her bra on the lounge. One shoe was perched on the coffee table whilst the other had mysteriously found refuge under the bed. The location of my own underwear was a mystery, though. After an extensive search on hands and knees I gently peeled back the covers hoping that they may have made their way between the sheets. But to no joy.
Time was running out. My appointment was in twenty minutes. I
began to panic.
It was in desperation that I started searching through the washing basket.
And that’s when I did it.
I stole a pair of hers.
I didn’t know whether to feel pride or shame with the discovery that they fitted me. A little snug in places, perhaps, but more than satisfactory in an emergency. And I know what you are thinking. But the answer is no. I did not check myself in the mirror. For the record though, they were of white lace with a cute little pink bow at the front. And I will confess that the silky feeling whilst tiptoeing down the stairs was not altogether unpleasant.
Mine was the first appointment. When I was ushered into the surgery I immediately presented to the doctor my arm, bracing myself for the bad news. After a short examination she gave the arm back.
“It’s nothing,” she advised, after assigning to my condition an unpronounceable scientific title. “Everyone has them,” she continued, “everyone of your age, anyway.”
I was relieved, I suppose, even if a little miffed with her insensitivity. I was standing and turning to leave when she touched me on the shoulder. “Nevertheless,” she said, “we might as well check you over while you’re here.”
“Check me over?” I asked.
“Your skin. A skin check.”
“All of it.”
I fell silent. She could sense my discomfort.
“No need to be embarrassed,” she reassured me, “you can keep your undies on.”