The summer before third grade changed my life. That was the summer my parents took me to see The Little Mermaid. Coincidentally, that was also the summer I had my tonsils removed. After my third time seeing the movie in the theater I noticed an aching in my throat. My mom was convinced it was just a stray piece of popcorn kernel skin, but after a couple of days of complaining my parents decided to take me to the doctor “just to be safe”.
Now, I should also mention my strong aversion to doctor’s offices. The sting of rubbing alcohol hitting your nose just as it kisses the cotton ball, before being swabbed across your skin to clear a little landing strip for the needle that is about to follow – an invisible bullseye beckoning the silver arrow to plunge into the veins – it never sat right with me. But I digress. My usual doctor was out of town on a family vacation, so I had to see his sub whom I had never met before, and this made me extra uneasy. I passed the time in the waiting room playing Ms. Pac-Man. My doctor was the best in town, he had an actual arcade version of Ms. PacMan smack dab in the middle of his waiting room, and you didn’t even have to put quarters in to play. Just as I navigated Ms. Pac-Man to the little pill and started to eat all of the evil blue ghost guys, the receptionist called my name. My stomach sank, the blue ghosts turned back to red, pink, and orange ghosts and then they ate me. Ms. Pac-Man’s death song provided the soundtrack as I slowly turned towards the fluorescent corridor leading to the exam rooms, ready to face my fate. My mom stood, ready to accompany me down the hall of horrors. The way the light framed her cast a soft glow around her head reminiscent of those stained glass renditions of guardian angels. My favorite nurse, Marcy, met us with a clipboard, and the three of us started the trek down the linoleum. I could have sworn I heard screams coming from behind the closed doors, but nobody else seemed to notice, so I just kept walking.
Marcy led us down the hallway to the last room on the left. She opened the door, and I hesitated for a moment before softly placing the tip of my sneaker into the room. My leg followed along with the rest of my body. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the exam table. Marcy left, mom read a magazine, and I studied the various torture devices that awaited me, the silver metal gleaming in the fluorescent overhead lights. I studied the food pyramid on a poster above the sink. Suddenly, the door opened. An enormous woman with giant breasts, a white labcoat, and short silver hair stepped into the room. The stethoscope around her neck didn’t dangle the way they do on most people, due to her giant boobs. She picked up the clipboard, looked it over and smiled down on me, “Hello, Aiden I am Dr. Worsola.”
“Dr. Ursula?” I stammered.
“Worsola” she corrected.
Her eyes bulged when she spoke, particularly on the second syllable of her name, “Wor-SO-laaa”. She exaggeratedly swished her hips from side to side when she walked. She made her way over to me. I sat with my hands clasped tightly on my lap. My mom continued reading her magazine.
“Vhat seems to be the trouble vith the throat?”
“Oh, it’s been very sore”
“Vell, let’s take a look-see, shall ve?”
Dr. Worsola sashayed over to the counter and took a wooden tongue depressor from one of the jars. “Now, say ‘aaah’!”
I opened my mouth as she smushed my tongue with the stick. Typically I liked the wooden tongue depressors, they reminded me of the spoons that came with the ice cream cups I bought at the park. Today, however it did not feel pleasant at all. Dr. Worsola’s eyes flashed as she said “wider”.
I obliged, “Aaaahhhh”
The way she was cramming her massive fist into my eight year old face, I half expected my jaw to come unhinged like I saw in a video once of a snake eating a mouse. That still wasn’t enough for this madwoman.
“Wider!” she demanded again, and all I could think of was Ursula the evil Sea Witch stealing The Little Mermaid’s voice. Suddenly, the room darkened and the evil doctor was illuminated by an ethereal purple light. We were in an undersea cave, the sea witch’s secret lair.
“Now sing!” commanded Dr. Worsola. Only Dr. Worsola wasn’t Dr. Worsola anymore. She had giant purple tentacles, and she laughed maniacally as I said “ahhhhh”.
“What is it, Doctor?”, my mom’s voice broke through and I was in the exam room again, seated on the table, fluorescent lights shining down on me, wooden tongue depressor depressing my tongue. Dr. Worsola “tsk, tsk, tsk’d”, her eyes and the veins in her neck bulging further out with each “tsk”. My mom made her way over to me. Dr. Worsola stared down my throat, into my soul, “It’s da tonsils, ya. They need to come out”. Dr. Worsola was the evil sea witch again. She sneered at me, “What I want from you is… your voice!”
“Noooooo!!!” I screamed out.
“Aiden, please”, mom’s voice brought me back to the exam room again.
“It’s not so bad, you get to eat lots of ice cream” said Dr. Worsola with a smile, and I swear I saw a tentacle retract back under her labcoat.
I woke up the following Saturday hoping it had all been a nightmare. Nope, there was my bag by the door, packed and ready for the hospital. This was it. This was the day the sea witch was going to steal my voice.