I’m in the office of a doctor I’ve never met. There’s a grade-school clock on the wall and a dusty ficus in the corner. I settle into what looks to be the softest chair in the waiting room. The coffee table’s lined with back issues of Men’s Fitness and Esquire. My phone’s fully charged and I’ve got plenty of gum. I put on my headphones, lean back, and close my eyes. It’s showtime.
Waiting Room – Fugazi
Any major-medical-event playlist worth its sperm count is going to kick off with this gem. It sets the scene, lays the tarp down on the kill floor. Surely this is what the beginning of the end sounds like.
It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M.
Okay, so maybe it’s not the end of the world, but it’s certainly the end of the world as I’ve known it. Do I feel fine? Does anyone even care? No, and not at all. And what the hell are they singing about here? Is anyone getting this? Lenny Bruce is not afraid of his virgin snake? Really? That guy died ass-up naked in a bathroom. How’d that work out for him?
Every Sperm Is Sacred – Monty Python
I don’t know, sounds about right to me.
Land of the Snakes – J. Cole
Until today, I pictured a waiting room filled with half-smiling men bro-shrugging at each other—kind of like death row, but for our penises. I envisioned us as the docile serpents on Whacking Day, corralled into Springfield’s town square, lazing about until merry citizens clubbed us to death…In reality, though, I’m the only one here in a white room that smells like dead oranges.
Changes – David Bowie
Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man. Easy for you to say, Starman.
Hole in the Bucket – Spearhead
When she found out about this playlist, my wife lowered the book she was reading and hissed, “A playlist? For your tiny little procedure? Are you fucking kidding me?” The only way to smooth things over was to agree to include this abysmal song. According to her, the lyric There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole “sounds just like you blaming your useless condom. Like an a-hole. Get it?”
Creep – Stone Temple Pilots
I’m half the man I used to be. Hoping against hope the math is way off here.
Add It Up – Violent Femmes
Sums up why I’m going under the blade. Why can’t I get just one screw? Why can’t I get just one screw? Believe me, I know what to do but something won’t let me make love to you. And that something is my tenacious milt and its treacherous passenger.
Monster – Kanye West
And lest I forget, that single traitorous and triumphant tadpole could tremble and molt and nourish itself until the day it becomes yet another monster, a no-good bloodsucker that will eat my brains and then rock gold teeth and fangs because that’s what a motherfucking monster do.
Shit Luck – Modest Mouse
My god, he’s totally right: This plane IS definitely crashing! This is horrible. I’m making a terrible mistake! Why the hell did I ever agree to this? Oh god. This is the way the fucking world ends! Look at the fucking shit we’re in, man! Not with a bang, but with a whimper. A measly, limp whimper.
Wave of Mutilation – Pixies
I cease to resist. Look at me, giving my goodbyes like a soft, pliant man. The horror…the horror of snails crawling along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream, that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering along the edge of a straight razor, surviving…oh, the queasy horror.
The End – The Doors
Do you hear that, too? Is that a helicopter? No, just the ceiling fan. Shit, I’m still only in the waiting room. Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle, but I’m just here, getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I look around the walls move in a little tighter and my scrotum contracts, camouflaging itself, disappearing beneath the surface.
“Sir? We’re ready for you now.” A man with a shiny round head looks down at me. He is not wearing a tie.
“Are you an assassin?” I ask him.
“No,” he chuckles. “I’m a doctor.”
“You’re neither,” I say, putting my headphones back on and standing up. “You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.”
And then I walked on down the hall.
Illustration by Andrew Lakata