What to Do Till the Doctor Comes
by Ellis Parker Butler
Often some time must elapse after you have called the doctor before he arrives, and it is well to know what to do while waiting for him. This depends on how long you have to wait. If the doctor has gone to Europe and will not arrive for six months, the time may be passed pleasantly by taking an automobile tour to the Pacific coast. A diary should be taken along in which your impressions should be jotted down from day to day, as "July 6, 1928. Grand Canyon -- quite a hole," and "September 11, 1928. Niagara Falls -- lot of water."
If the doctor is expected in four or five hours you can get up a little bridge party -- or poker, if you have chips -- or ask the neighbors to come over and play charades. A good charade for such affairs is the word "dictionary." This can be acted in four scenes. In the first scene have some one named Dick come into the room while someone else says, "Oh, hello Dick!" Care should be taken to emphasize the word "Dick," saying "Oh, hello --" very softly and then almost shouting the name "Dick." There should be a clock in the room going "tick-tock, tick-tock," and one of the fellows should say, "Oh! the clock is going tick-tock!" and then the other fellow should say "Is it? I think it is going dick-dock." Say this very clearly "-- going DICK-dock."
For the syllable "shun" you can get up a scene with somebody shunning something in it. You may, for example, take a child and burn it, and then have a fire built in the middle of the room, and then have the child shun the fire, while someone says, "Ah! the burnt child shuns the fire!" You can have almost anybody shun almost anything. We played this charade once while we were waiting for the doctor to come and cure grandpa's smallpox, and we used grandpa. We had one of our neighbors -- Horace L. Cartwright act the part of shunner. We told him grandpa was sick and he entered the room and looked at grandpa, and asked what was the matter with him. When we told Mr. Cartwright that grandpa had smallpox, Mr. Cartwright shunned grandpa most eagerly and we all had a hearty laugh.
To enact the word "airy" you can get a room and fill it with air, and then have someone say, "Well, well! This is indeed an airy room!" Then dress one of the players to represent a cockney and have a dog pass through the room and have the cockney say, "Ah! there's a 'airy dog now!" Be careful that the dog is not a Mexican hairless dog. Or if the only dog you have is a Mexican hairless take care to wrap him up in a piece of hair mattress, with the hairy side out. For the complete word a nice little scene can be arranged. Have two pretty girls seated on chairs facing the audience, each with a book. One of the girls then says "Pshaw! This isn't the dictionary -- I thought this was the dictionary." The other girl then says, "No, that isn't the dictionary; this is the dictionary. Do you want the dictionary?"
If this charade is acted carefully only a few of the party will guess that the word is "encyclopedia."
While waiting for the doctor be sure to remove from the premises any apple there may be there. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This does not, of course, apply to Uncle Norbert's Adam's-apple that flops up and down when he eats porridge. There was a time when an Adam's-apple kept doctors away, but in 1897 a law was passed forbidding Adams-apples from keeping doctors away, and everything is all right in that respect now.
Before 1897 one of the most pitiful sights used to be that of a throat doctor
trying to go to a patient who had an Adam's-apple. There was the doctor trying to go to his patient, and there would be the patient's Adam's-apple keeping the doctor away, and I have seen with my own eyes, hundreds -- no, thousands -- of doctors starving to death while vainly trying to reach their patients, while tens of hundreds of throat patients died like flies. They used to drive wagons along the streets, crying "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!"
That was a terrible time! I remember my Aunt Eleanor telling me how, one night, her mother heard the wagons rumble and the voices of the drivers calling "Bring out your dead!" and how my grandmother went to the door and said "We haven't any dead," and the driver replied, "Then don't bring them out." Quite a rude tone of voice, too. Those were awful days.
My grandfather had an Adam's-apple that he called "Pike's Peak" because his name was Pike and his Adam's apple looked so much like a mountain, but in that terrible year of 1897 he changed its name. That was when they still had arc lights in the hospitals and grandpa Pike was being operated on for appendicitis when the arc light came loose from the ceiling and hit him on the Adam's-apple. After that he called his Adam's-apple "Mount Ararat." Because the arc landed on it.
Grandfather was like that -- merry and gay to the last.