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Some people really don't like puppets

In 1990, I had a medical kerfuffle while I was living in Oakland, California, and went to see a specialist.

I was sitting on the edge of the examination table when the doctor entered the room. If ego were a cologne, he must have showered in it that morning — he reeked of it. He gave a slight frown, the kind people give you if they catch you blowing spit bubbles or if you mention that you still aren’t 100% sure that the moon landing really happened.

There was no handshake accompanied by, “Hello, I’m Dr. So and So.” As I began to tell him about my sudden malady, he waved me off, saying, “Let me do the exam here.”

During the course of the exam, he let me know he had graduated from Yale Medical School, owned a big house up in the ritzy Montclair District, and drove his Porsche 911 only on the weekends — a real status hound.

I could tell he was itching for me to tell him what I did for a living, so he could show his disdain, but I kept mum.

Finally, he said, “What sort of work do you do?”

Now, I have a long-standing policy of never telling a lie, unless there’s sex, drugs and rock and roll involved, in which case I lie my tail off. But this time I made a worthy exception.

Jerkily bobbing my head and flapping my arms and hands up and down, I did a fine impersonation of Pinocchio, and in the highest, squeakiest Felix the Cat/Mickey Mouse-type voice, I declared, “I make puppets!”

His jaw dropped and a look of total incomprehension swept across his ego-saturated face. I guess I did not fit his image of a puppet maker.

His sudden onset of puppet-induced aphasia passed and finally he hesitantly mumbled, “Oh puppets.”

In my high-pitched, squeaky voice I announced, “Yes, puppets! I make boy and girl puppets, king and queen puppets, unicorn puppets and kitty cat puppets.”

And with the meekest of smiles, I clapped my Pinocchio hands together and proclaimed, “I love them all!”

Then I asked, “Doctor, do you like puppets?”

There was another moment of silence before he blurted out, “Yes, of course, I like puppets, too.”

I said, “Good. Because there are some people who don’t like puppets. I then lowered my voice to its normal bass range and with a twisted Hannibal Lecter leer, I stated, “I think anyone who doesn’t like puppets should just die!” I pretty much yelled those last two words.

He abruptly said, “I have to go now,” and quickly left the room. I exited the building and got into my car and laughed hysterically for a good 15 minutes remembering the priceless look on his face.

I’m not sure if that puffed up M.D. ever tells that story at the country club, but I’ve told it a number of times over the years, and it still makes me feel good about stepping out of the normal and into the crazy. Sometimes being disingenuous and goofing on someone who really deserves it is just the right thing to do.

Doug Munro lives in Ashland.

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