The Diagnosis

[SCENE: DOCTORíS OFFICE. JOHNSON, A MAN IN A BUSINESS SUIT IS SITTING IMPATIENTLY LOOKING AT WATCH. DOCTOR COMES IN, LOOKING THROUGH PAPERS ON CLIPBOARD]

JOHNSON: Thank God!

DOCTOR: Hmm? Oh, Iím sorry, am I late?

JOHNSON: Only seventeen minutes.

DOCTOR: Iím sorry, weíre having a very busy day today.

JOHNSON: Like Iím not. I...never mind. Did my tests come back yet?

DOCTOR: Yes, they did. All of your bloodwork came back this morning, and I had the chance to go over it carefully.

JOHNSON: Do I have hypoglycemia?

DOCTOR: No, it looks like you donít. All of your tests came back negative.

JOHNSON: Then I do have ADD. I knew it.

DOCTOR: No, youíve taken all of the tests for that, and you donít fit the profile for Attention Deficit Disorder.

JOHNSON: Then what do I have?

DOCTOR: Well, Iíve gone over your medical history completly, and if you want my honest opinion, Iíll tell you, based on my experience.

JOHNSON: OK...well...what is it you think I have?

DOCTOR: You donít have anything. Youíre just a schmuck.

JOHNSON: What?

DOCTOR: At first I thought you were suffering from Work-Related Stress Syndrome. But you only work 30 hours a week as a night watchman. Then I thought you might be addicted to something, but just werenít telling me. But none of your blood or urine tested positive for drugs. And then I thought you might have a point when you suggested you might have ADD, so I tested you for that. But when your tests came back negative, I started observing the way you interacted with the staff and the other patients. I also called your parents and talked to them.

JOHNSON: You called my parents?

DOCTOR: Oh yes, we had a long talk about what you were like when you were a kid.

JOHNSON: I donít believe this.

DOCTOR: Try to look at it objectively. As a physician, I have to follow every lead possible in making a diagnosis. In your case itís very simple. Diagnosis: Schmuck. You alienate everyone around you.

JOHNSON: Hey, I didnít come here to be insulted. Iíve been living with this problem all my life.

DOCTOR: What problem is that?

JOHNSON: I got bad grades in school my whole life.

DOCTOR: Well thatís very simple. You were just too lazy to study hard.

JOHNSON: But Iíve had over thirty jobs over the years.

DOCTOR: Thatís easy to understand too. Your co-workers just canít stand you.

JOHNSON: Look, you canít just say that Iím just a jerk.

DOCTOR: Mr. Johnson, your case is typical of a larger pattern occurring all over America. Thousands of people every year discover theyíre hypoglycemic; i.e., lazy. Or theyíve got Attention Deficit Disorder; i.e., theyíre a loser. Or theyíve got Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome: translation, theyíre a jerk. The phrase of the day is "Iím not a jerk, loser, or lazy, Iíve got a Disease! Iíve got a ĎConditioní!" Well, Iíve had a enough of it. My prescription is, Take responsibility for your own damn life! If youíre a loser, be honest! Say, Hey! Iím a loser! If youíre a jerk, just say, "Hey, Iím a jerk! I happen to be highly successful and a terrific human being , but thatís what I am. Just because youíre not, donít be asking me to make excuses for you!

(Nurse comes in. She is overweight. Goes over cabinet to get chart. Has to squeeze past patient.)

JOHNSON: Thatís easy for you to say! You havenít lived the life I have! If you had, maybe youíd be feeling differently.

DOCTOR: Iím sure I would be able to handle admitting it if I was a jerk, Mr. Johnson.

NURSE: Doctor, your two oíclock appt. called to say sheís going to be late.

DOCTOR: OK. Thanks Susan.

NURSE: Excuse me. (Canít get past him.) Would you mind moving your chair? I canít get through.

JOHNSON: Maybe you should try getting down to a size 22.

[NURSE doesnít say anything, files chart and leaves].

DOCTOR: Thatís what Iím talking about!

JOHNSON: What do you mean?

DOCTOR: What you just said!

JOHNSON: I said something wrong?

DOCTOR: Thatís what I mean! You arenít even aware of how you insult people!

JOHNSON: Well, what am I supposed to do? Never say anything because I might insult someone? I canít make any comments about anything, whether itís about the weather, politics, or your stupid tie?

DOCTOR: You think I have a stupid tie?

JOHNSON: Uh...no! I donít think you have a stupid tie.... I mean most people, I mean some people would but I uh...donít.

DOCTOR: Uh-huh.

JOHNSON: OK. Fine. Iím a schmuck. OK? Ever since Iíve been a child people have hated me. My parents used to say they adopted me and the agency wouldnít take me back. But I canít just say, "Hi, Iím a schmuck. Iím the biggest asshole youíll ever meet!" I need a disease! I need to be diagnosed with something! I need an excuse, OK? Please! Have a heart! Give me a condition! Come on, please, you big fat slob! I mean... please help me, doctor.

DOCTOR: OK. OK. Youíve convinced me. I guess I canít expect people to go around taking responsibility for being a jerk. Iíll tell you what. Iíll give you a diagnosis right now. Iíll give you a terrific diagnosis! Let see... how about... "Personality Maladjustment Syndrome."

JOHNSON: That sounds great... except...

DOCTOR: What?

JOHNSON: Well... the abbreviation for that is PMS. Can I have something a little more...

DOCTOR: What?

JOHNSON: Macho-sounding?

DOCTOR: (Sighs) OK. Fine. How about... Masculine Maladjustment Syndrome?

JOHNSON: That sounds great!

DOCTOR: (Writing in chart): The underlying cause will be... testosterone poisoning.

JOHNSON: Thatís perfect! How can I thank ever you?

DOCTOR: By paying your bill on time and staying out of my life.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Thank you so much. By the way, thatís a great tie. It just doesnít go with your dumpy body. What I mean is...

DOCTOR: Get the hell out of here!

[JOHNSON makes a quick exit. Doctor looks at his tie uncomfortably in mirror.]

END.


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