Sean turns to me, his eyes having lit up.
“Oh, you’re a doctor are you?”
“Yep.” I exhale, my breath almost making mist. It’s a frigid summer’s night, and we find ourselves outside, at a barbeque at dusk, drinking chilled beer.
“What’s the weirdest story you’ve been told as a doctor?”
“Oh,” I say, beginning to think. A couple of tales – inappropriate for dinner conversation – run through my head. I stop myself.
“The stories I hear are never as good as what I see.”
“Okay,” says Sean, “then try this one on then.”
I sit back, as a smirk comes to Sean’s mouth.
“So it all happened on the day of my daughter’s birth, right.”
“Oh,” Amanda says from across the table, “are you sure? People are eating. It’s not exactly…”
“…Perfect,” I say. “Suddenly I’m interested.”
Sean looks at me and smiles, pleased at the approval. “Amanda was in labour, right, and had been for a few hours. She’s going through the contractions, they’re building…” He pauses for effect. “…And then it started happening. I started getting pain myself. You know, down there.” He points at his pants, until I nod my understanding.
“And I didn’t want to tell her, right? You know? I mean – guys are renowned for being pussies with pain, right? Like they can’t hack pain, can they?” I nod.
He leans forward, rubbing his hands together.
“So she’s starting to get more pain, the contractions are winding up, and like – almost like a sympathetic-type thing – so is my pain. The pain in my dick is getting worse and worse.”
“And he starts acting really strange,” chimes in Amanda. “I’m in labour, and I’m asking him to rub my back, and he’s doing it, but he’s staring into space. Like a zombie. He staring straight ahead, not hearing me, generally being fucking unsupportive.”
“Yeah, because I’m trying not to pass out,” he says defensively.
“Anyway,” she says.
“Anyway,” he continues, shaking his head, “so we head in to St. Vincents, and the baby’s born at 1.33pm.”
“Piece of cake,” I say.
“Yeah, piece of cake,” he repeats quickly, eager to continue, “and meantime, I’m sitting there, with my new daughter. Just sitting there in agony. In agony.” I look across at Amanda. She rolls her eyes. “And I say, ‘Darl, I’ve got to go to hospital.’ ”
“You have to go to hospital?”
“St Vincent’s Public.”
“So you’re in birthing suite at St V’s Private, and you walked next door to Emergency at St. V’s Public?”
“I don’t walk. I get an ambulance.”
“Over the road.”
“Exactly. With a kidney stone.”
“Ooh, they hurt,” I say.
“No, really,” I say to Amanda, “I don’t know where I heard this, but I remember someone telling me that the two types of pain that are as intense as birth pain, are a heart attack and a kidney stone.
“No shit!” he laughs, slapping his leg, and pointing at his wife. “I told you I was giving birth over there. Through the eye of my dick!”
“So then what happened?” I ask.
Sean leans forward, elbows resting on his knees, like he’s ready to share game-plan tactics.
“They let me out, doped up to the eyes.” He throws his arms up in disbelief. “And I had to go home.”
“You didn’t go back to see your daughter?”
“Nope,” says Amanda.
“I couldn’t,” he pleads to the entire table. “I was in agony. I caught a cab home, and went to bed.
He takes a deep breath before continuing.
“And in the night, I woke up, busting for a piss. I walked out to the toilet, and when I pissed…” He shakes his head, looking away, like a digger unable to complete a story of a war atrocity. “Eventually, I wake up, on the toilet floor, God know’s how long later. Bleeding.”
“From my head. I passed out from the pain, fell against the mirror, smashed it, and cut my head.”
He sits back, like the story is finished.
“Then what happened?”
He pauses for a moment, averting my eyes. “You know, I…well…that when I called my mum,” he says sheepishly.
The table erupts.
“Had you pulled your pants up?”
“Fair enough. Had you cut yourself badly?”
“Nah, it was okay. Mum fixed it.” He takes a swig of his beer. “Although, I swear,” he says, tapping his finger on the table, “if I’d had a knife with me as I was passing that stone, I would have cut off my dick if I knew it would stop the pain.” He shakes his head, again taking a big swig. “I’ll tell you, with that pain amount of pain, my dick had shrived to this big,” he says, holding his thumb and forefinger a centimetre apart, “but it felt like a metre of pain.”
He sits back again, taking a deep breath and letting it out. He takes another drink, unconsciously rearranging his trousers.
“So when did you see your daughter again?”
“The next day, the day after we both gave birth,” he continues, without missing a beat.
Everyone sits there, staring off in their own thoughts, some people shaking their heads slightly, no one quite sure what to say.
“I think that’s the weirdest story I’ve ever been told, Sean,” I say finally, breaking the silence.
“Nah, that’s not weird, mate. That’s just funny.”
* * * * *