Dr. OBBy: Max Monroe
To Michael Scott, the best regional manager in the greater Scranton area. Without your guidance, we’d be supremely lacking in our ability to turn anything anyone says—ever—into a “that’s what she said” joke.
Also, to Shonda Rhimes, for killing so many characters in your drama, Grey’s Anatomy, we had no choice but to do the exact opposite.
And to the combination of the two for inspiring this twisted docuseries.
Nostalgia overwhelmed me as I pulled into the quiet driveway of my parents’ suburban New Jersey home. It had only been a few weeks since my last visit, but it felt like longer—and there was always a welcome sense of familiarity.
Several memories played back like trailers for a movie as I took in the two dormers that popped out of the roof—one of which led directly into my childhood room—and guided my car to a stop behind my sister and brother-in-law’s SUV.
My little sister, Georgia, a toddler at the time, hightailing it across the front lawn—naked—while I’d chased after her, and my oversexualized parents made out on a lounge chair folded out in front of the garage.
My dad standing in the door and laughing as I’d walked my first date to the car, opened the door, and tried to sit her down directly on a box of condoms he’d placed there.
George coming home from masturbation camp—yeah, that’s a long story—and crying to me about murdering our mother as I’d sat next to her hip on my bed.
In the end, she hadn’t gone through with the murder, and I hadn’t been able to do anything to stop the tears, but we’d bonded that day. Somehow, the awkward, well-meaning doings of our parents quieted the normal sibling antagonism that lived between us and turned it into something more mature. Something that still teased and poked, but by and large, focused on understanding and love.
Lost in my thoughts, I startled when the storm door slammed open and a naked toddler came shooting out of it and onto the front lawn. I jumped into action, swinging out of my car door and leaving it open just as my frazzled brother-in-law Kline leapt from the front porch onto the grass and dropped to a squat, ready to corral her. I took the other side, and together, we herded my niece Julia like she was a lost calf and we were the cowboys.
As sweat broke out down the line of my back, I realized something: toddlers are basically just smaller versions of drunk adults, but cuter. But I wondered when the transition happened, when cute wasn’t quite so cute anymore. At what age do we expect them to dry out, go to rehab, that kind of thing?
I’m kidding, obviously.
But there’s no denying the similarities between a toddler and drunk twenty-one-year-old guy at a frat party are uncanny.
When Kline had her safely squirming in his arms, my mind drifted straight back to my trip down memory lane.
“Like mother, like daughter,” I remarked at the same time Kline said the exact same thing.
Both of us froze.
“What are you talking about?” we asked in unison again.
His face took on a carnal quality, and I recoiled.
Oh, gross. And awkward.
“Never mind,” I mumbled, blinking my eyes rapidly to try to scrub the mental image.
My sister and brother-in-law were one of those perfect pairs that made each other better. He was a brilliant businessman, loaded with more money than I could even fathom, and one of the humblest guys I’d ever met. She was just as brilliant, successful in her own right as a marketing director with the New York Mavericks, and the happiest part of his day.
That said, she was also a nutcase, and he was far too good at being her enabler.
“Where’s Gigi?” I asked, and his whole face lit up.
“Inside with her feet up.”
My eyebrows squished together. “Is she feeling okay?” She was pregnant with their second child, and as far as I knew, the fatigue hadn’t been hitting her too hard.
“Oh, yeah,” Kline remarked lasciviously, and once again, I was sorry I went there.
“Oh, gross. I was asking about morning sickness, not orgasms, for fuck’s sake. My mom is rubbing off on you.”
My mom, Dr. Savannah Cummings, was a sex therapist, and the scars of having a parent like her ran deep. I found my moments to enjoy the gifts her occupation had bestowed on me as a brother looking for ammunition against his sister and the like, but Kline, as an outsider, didn’t have the same personal traumas to slow down his enjoyment. Most people run from their crazy in-laws; he ran with them.
“Oh, come on. If I were really trying to torture you, I wouldn’t have protected you from the fact that Savannah has been in there trying to convince Georgie that, and I quote, ‘It’d be the most natural thing in the world for you to be her obstetrician.’”
Internally, I cringed. Externally, I cringed. In fact, it felt like Kline had just jabbed me in the back of the throat with his finger, and my gag reflex was doing nothing more than reacting accordingly—hacking cough, choking sensation, slight nausea.
I loved my career as a physician in obstetrics, but I’d sign up to flip burgers at the nearest fast-food joint if it meant avoiding doing vaginal exams on my sister. The mere thought was worse than that disgusting horror flick called The Human Centipede.
Seriously, if you’ve never seen that movie, don’t fucking see that movie.
That flick is more traumatic than the blue waffle and that “Two Girls One Cup” site combined.
Jesus. Don’t Google those either.
I immediately wanted to scrub my brain with acid bleach and found myself cringing again.
Kline grinned triumphantly. “Exactly.”
Honest to God, a vagina, in a professional setting, didn’t have much effect on me anymore. In a personal setting, say, three beers deep on a Saturday night in Manhattan, I was all about the effect it had on me—but that was another subject entirely. However, as well adjusted to the overwhelmingly intimate aspects of my job as I was, I still couldn’t get on board with being George’s regular OB. An emergency? I’d be elbow-deep in a heartbeat. Otherwise, my sister and I were just about close enough, thank you very much.
Done talking about my sister’s reproductive pleasure, capability, and organs, I stretched out my arms and wiggled my hands. Kline handed over my squirming niece immediately.
“Come on,” Kline called as he headed for the door, looking over his shoulder as I blew raspberries on my niece’s tiny stomach. “We better get inside so we don’t miss your big television debut.”
Butterflies danced in my stomach at the state of my life. Several months ago, a TV production company had approached me and two other doctors at the head of their departments at St. Luke’s Hospital and done their best to convince us to sign on to be a part of what would be a docuseries with several episodes about each of us. They’d decided to call it The Doctor Is In. I honestly thought they could have taken more creative liberties with the title, but I guessed keeping it professional and to the point wasn’t a bad approach either.
To me, it had sounded like a blast from the beginning. A way to spice up work, a little extra initiative, and maybe something I could show my kids someday—and use as an opening with women in the meantime.
Dr. Scott Shepard, head of the Emergency Department, had the same positive take on the opportunity, but Nick Raines, the newest addition of all of us to St. Luke’s and the head of Neurology, wasn’t so sure. Apparently, he had some ground to make up with his daughter, whom he’d been estranged from for most of her life, but with some pressure from us and the board of directors at the hospital, he’d caved. It’d be good publicity for the hospital as a whole.
If I was being honest, I was more excited about the publicity it’d give me…personally.
Grey’s Anatomy had taught me that the “hot doctor” was a thing.
Telling people you watch Grey’s Anatomy probably isn’t a hot doctor thing, my mind advised.
Julia started to thrash as soon as we stepped inside the door of my childhood home—after a quick detour to shut the door to my car—so I set her down without protest. Sometimes toddlers needed to be free to roam, and, for lack of better words, go apeshit.
“Willy!” my father yelled in greeting, charging toward me and the door and completely boxing Kline out of the way. He grabbed my face between his hands and pretended to kiss the air beside my head. This was new behavior, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected. My mom was always reading some article on love, affection, and the effect of said expressions on your kids. This was probably something she’d told him was good for the health of my sex life.
“I’m right here, Dad,” I muttered back, a smile on my face. “You don’t have to yell.”
He ignored me and kept right on booming. “You’re looking long today, son.”
Oh, good. Another odd behavior, but this one wasn’t at all new. The day I saw my dad and he didn’t have a penis joke waiting for me, I’d also be attending his funeral. Dick had purposely named me William so that we’d be forever bonded as father and son with Johnson-themed nicknames.
What? Isn’t that how your parents named you?
Still. Preparedness never softened my reaction. You can’t ever be ready for your parent to open the conversation with the state of your genitals. “Oh Jesus.”