By Mordechai Schmutter

“Shushan Medical Group, please hold.”

“Hi, this is Queen Vashti, and I’m calling about a skin cond — Great.”

Hold music plays. “At Shushan Medical Group, we prioritize care for our patients. Our state-of-the-art facility includes three bloodletting beds, a skull drill, and over four leech baths.”

“I can’t believe I have to listen to the hold recording. Wait. There are no recordings. Is this a person saying this?”

“Ma’am, I’m not supposed to answer questions. I’m just supposed to say this shpiel. Located at — ”

“Can you answer my question? This is the queen, and I have a medical question I need answered immediately.”

“Your Majesty, I have no medical knowledge. At all. My entire job is to play hold music with my violin and then recite this paragraph, again and again, all day. There’s no point in asking me anything. They barely ever let me out of this box.”

“Fine. Continue.”

“Thank you. Well, now you made me lose my place. I’m going to have to start over. (Clears throat.) At Shushan Medical Group, we prioritize care for our patients. Our state-of-the-art facility — Hey!”

“Shushan Medical Group, how may I direct your call?”

“This is Queen Vashti.”

“Can you spell your last name, please?”

“V-A-S… You don’t know how to spell your queen’s name?”

“This is a standard screening question we ask all patients. If you can’t answer, we know it’s serious.”

“Can I speak to a doctor? It’s urgent.”

“Please hold.”

“I’m the queen. I don’t go on hold. Hello?”

“At Shushan Medical Group, we prioritize care for our patients. Our state-of-the-art facility includes three bloodletting beds, a skull drill, and over four leech baths.”

“It’s me again. You don’t have to do your shpiel.”

“I really do. Located at — Hey!”

“Your Majesty! How are you doing today? How’s your husband’s toe thing?”

“That’s not why I’m calling.”

“No one ever calls to chat.”

Her husband has a toe thing?

“Get back in your box.”

“So listen, I… have a friend who has this sudden skin condition.”

“It sounds serious. I’d advise you to have this friend come in. Wait, why is the queen calling on behalf of someone else? That doesn’t sound right. Don’t you have people for this sort of thing?”

“OK, I’m the one with the condition. I’ve broken out everywhere.”

“Then I would say that you should come in. I have next Thursday …”

“It’s a little bit of an emergency.”

“A skin emergency? What makes it an emergency?”

“We’re at the big party.”

“Well that explains it. Studies show that having to go to a party makes people break out in pimples.”

“This is really bad. They’re everywhere. And they’re really angry.”

“How long have you had them?”

“I don’t know. Five minutes?”

“How did this happen? Did you eat anything you were allergic to?”

“I don’t know.”

“What have you eaten recently?”

“Everything. It’s a party.”

“Can you come in now?”

“Not really. I can’t leave my room looking like this. If I step out, my husband’s friends will rush me down to the party. My husband has this bet with his friends…”

“Yeah, but when your husband sees your skin thing, he’s going to let you go to the doctor, right?”

“I don’t know. He’s probably going to be pretty upset about losing the bet. Also, he hasn’t seen me in like a year.”

“A year?”

“We’ve been pretty busy with the party. And even in general, we only really see each other when he summons me. So anyway, today I received a summons, so I went into my dressing room and I looked in the mirror, and this is what I see.”

“Do you think maybe there’s something wrong with your mirror?”

“Probably not. I’ve had my Jew-tas scrub it.”

“Judahs?”

Jew-ta. A Jewish woman in the cleaning industry. They’ve very good. Although I think some of them subcontract the cleaning work out to non-Jew-tas.”

“You know people get pimples all the time, right?”

“They’re not really pimples. They’re white. Like more of a tzara’as.”

“Did you try not speaking lashon ha’ra?”

“I’m looking for something quicker.”

“I can’t diagnose tzara’as anyway. You have to have a Jewish priest do it.”

“Where do I find a Jewish priest at this hour? On a Sabbath!”

“Wasn’t there one at your party?”

“That was my husband!”

“Oops.”

“What else could have caused it?”

“Well, this might be related… They do say that alcohol is a trigger for psoriasis. Have you had any alcohol lately?”

“…”

“What about some home remedies?”

“Sure.”

“Did you try aloe?”

“You think I didn’t try aloe?”

“OK…What if you wear a turtleneck or something, to cover it up? Would that work?”

“No.”

“What if you didn’t come out of your room until nightfall? Then people won’t really see it.”

“That sounds like a great idea. They’re banging down my door as we speak.”

“Oh.”

“What if I spread fake news about my husband?”

“Like what?”

“That he used to be a stable boy.”

“Spreading more lashon ha’ra is not going to solve your problem here. Also, wouldn’t that make him look good? He came from nothing and built himself up to marry a queen!”

“Hey, I came from nothing, too! All my parents gave me was a zillion dollars and a kingdom, and I …”

“Married a horse assistant.”

“Could I speak to the doctor I normally speak to?”

“You ordered his head cut off, ma’am.”

“Oh, that’s right. He told me I was gaining weight. And something about my blood pressure. I couldn’t hear him with his head cut off. Should I speak to a dermatologist?”

“If you want. But they’re not covered by your health plan.”

“What do you mean? Isn’t there just a copay?”

“I can look it up … One second.”

Silence.

“He still smells like horses sometimes.”

“I gave him a soap for that.”

“It doesn’t work.”

“Did you try dabbing on toothpaste?”

“On him?”

“On you.”

“I can’t walk out with dabs of toothpaste everywhere. And I also can’t reach the spots on my back.”

“How many are on your back?”

“Let me check … Oh my getchkes!”

“What happened?”

“I have a tail!”

“Hhh. OK, tell me your tale.”

“No, t-a-i-l.”

“Are you sure?”

“Why would I tell you this if I wasn’t sure?”

“Do you think maybe you’re drunk and imagining all of this?”

“Me? Drunk? I’ll have you know …!”

“You’re yelling.”

“Sorry. They’re banging on my door. I’ll have you know that my grandfather could drink a lot and still not get drunk! Oh, the banging stopped. I think they went away.”

“Ma’am, are you your grandfather? Genes don’t always work that way.”

“I’m not drunk.”

“Has this ever happened to you before?”

“That I grew a tail?”

“Any family history of this? Forgive me for asking, but did this grandfather have a tail?”

“I actually don’t know.”

“OK … So the good news is that the tail will definitely take everyone’s attention away from the pimples.”

“That is good news! And how do I take attention away from the tail?”

“Look, you have to choose.”

“Should I get a second opinion?”

“Good luck getting another doctor on the phone. On a weekend. Everyone else is at your party.”

“Why aren’t you at my party?”

“We have a rotation. Party or not, people still get sick.”

“People are getting sick?”

“Mostly alcohol poisoning. Wait, you’re at the party. Why don’t you consult a doctor who’s there?”

“A drunk doctor?”

“Sure.”

“At this party where everyone’s loud and hoping to score favor with the king?”

“It might not be my best idea.”

“What if you snuck in here?”

“I’m literally the only doctor on duty here. How about if you just put on a lot of makeup?”

“How do I put makeup on a tail?”

“Well, is it like a dog’s tail, or is it more like a horse’s tail?”

“It’s hard to say.”

“Because if it’s like a pony tail, you can maybe style it. Like a show horse. Remind your husband of the good old days.”

“I don’t want to have this conversation.”

“You called me. What if you take a bath in oats?”

“That would just complete my transformation into a horse, wouldn’t it? Should I also eat carrots?”

“OK, I’ll be honest with you. I’m just an intern. That’s how I got stuck here. I’ve been on my own for like a year now, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’ve been winging it the entire time. People are dying.”

“Well, the messengers are right outside my door again. If they see me, they’re going to go tell him.”

“What if you killed the messengers?”

“There are ten messengers. My little Jew-tas won’t really be a match for them. One of the messengers is a professional barber, so you know he’s good with a blade.”

“Maybe you can call him in to help you style your tail.”

“What can you do for me?”

“I can prescribe you a cream …”

“Tail cream?”

Skin cream. There is no tail cream.”

“Well, I’m going to need a lot of it.”

“Well, good luck, because the pharmacy’s been closed.”

“So how can I get it?”

“I don’t know … Amazon?”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it comes straight from the Amazon, by warrior. So should I send you the prescription, or …?”

“It won’t get here in time. They’re breaking down the door.”

“Well, let me know how it goes … Hello?”

“…”

Please stay on the line for a brief survey.” 

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of seven books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com

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