Different Breed

by Eric Dessner MD

Eric Dessner is an ophthalmologist.

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I knew little about Dr. Barkan, before a chance encounter in the vestibule  

of the medical building where

we stood together waiting for the lone elevator to carry us off to

our respective precincts:

the miniaturized realm of the eyeball for me, and a complex bobsled run of   

arteries and veins for him.

When a patient’s infirmaries had required us to speak, something seemed,

too cheery, almost mechanical about him.

Maybe it was the flawless sphere of his bald head, eyes that shone with

indefatigable vigor, or that his arms, legs,

and torso were all set in perfect proportion, for ergonomic harmony.

If any neurotic sludge did accumulate

in his synaptic clefts- from tiny glitches in the wiring- it never affected the

mood of his mustache.

Just standing next to him, produced an urge to adjust my collar and pass

a hand through my unkempt head of curls.

How did he maintain such a state of vitality nearing the age of sixty?

He credited a much younger,

second wife, a strict exercise routine and another set of children.

We both knew that

such a long, mandatory arc, seeing patient after patient after patient

would leave only tiny crevices

in his days, months, and years for the mind to unravel: to breathe.

But he just shrugged and said,

“I like being busy” and stepped into the day. And that’s when I noticed it,

right there, listed on the physician directory,

on the wall just behind him. His first name! Anatole! And I immediately thought,

Hey, that’s a pretty cool name for a cat!

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