A nurse entered the waiting room and called my name. She wasn’t a nurse.
“Mr. Walker? The Great Blogger will see you now.”
I’d been summoned, but I resisted. It was a passive-aggressive resistance, I guess. I wasn’t going to not rise. But I wasn’t in a hurry to rise, either.
“Mr. Walker?” She craned her neck left and right, wondering which one was me.
I sighed. I placed the heels of my hands on the armrests and pushed down. The downward force, plus a great inner strength, a determination to rise, resulted in my rising.
I was on my feet. I put one in front of the other, establishing a sort of momentum.
She took my weight and height, then the not-nurse crinkled her nose and smiled and pointed to a seat inside the corner office she wished me to enter. I judged it — not meaning to — then her. She crinkled her nose again cutely and pointed to the seat. I flicked my eyes between the not-nurse, the seat, and the corners. I suppose I wanted her to know I was against almost everything.
“What brings you in today, Mr. Walker?” she said. Perkily.
“Why are you here?”
“Well, I don’t know,” I said. “You called me.”
“I see. Ha! Well … lol … it wasn’t me!” She finished with her exclamation points and italics. She crinkle-nose smiled again. She flipped open her laptop. She tapped keys and studied her screen. “I see we have you down for a blog check-up.” She looked at me, and her eyes sparkled like on a tv commercial, like she was selling me detergent, or hope. She did a few more nursey things, then crinkled her nose and said, “Here comes the doctor.”
The doctor entered. The Great Blogger. He had his own laptop, and one of those robust doctor faces. Healthy, ageless, unwrinkled. The kind you envy, want to remove and wear, the kind you want in your selfie.
“Walt,” he said kindly. Too kindly, maybe. “So great to see you.” He meant it, too. Maybe too much. He wasn’t just saying it. If he were, he wouldn’t have been as successful a not-doctor.
“Hi,” I said.
“You look magnificent,” he paused to say, like he just really meant it so much.
“Thanks,” I said. I sensed he was a bit off, but he kind of melted me anyway. He had a better way with me than I have with anyone. I’m a bit off, too.
“Tell me what brings you in today,” he said. He said it the way a superior human gets you to say things you don’t want to say.
“Well, you, I think. You called me.”
He smiled. He seemed to be in love with me. “How’s the blogging?”
He studied my ears, my hairline. “Are you blogging? … Your blog. How is it?”
“Fine, I guess.”
He put his thumb on my chin and pulled down, stuck a popsicle stick on my tongue and shined his light after it.
“Getting involved in the community?”
“Hmmm? Yes. I mean, I guess so. I’m not really one for community. I don’t… you know. I kind of keep to…”
The Great Blogger leaned back on his stool, looked deep into my soul, and smiled. “How’s the About page?” He kept looking at my ears and hairline.
“People ‘liking’ it?”
“Well, sure. I mean no, not really. Not often.”
The not-doctor turned to his not-nurse. “Wasn’t Walt the one had that About page where he had all kinds of great ideas for blogs but didn’t feel like writing them?”
“Sounds like his,” said the not-nurse.
“Yeah,” he smiled. He turned back to me. “How’s that going?” He blinked, studied my forehead, my nostrils.
“See here now,” I said. I straightened up, snapped my wrists and adjusted my cuffs. I even dug a finger into my breast pocket and pulled out my monocle, put it in. When I felt had my act together, I challenged him. “What’s this all about, then?” I said.
The not-doctor, the Great Blogger, eyes on me, reached for his clipboard, flipped through his notes, turned one page around for me to see. It was a picture of not-me. “This your avi?”
It was. I knew he knew it was. I knew he knew I knew it was. I was wondering what he was getting at. I thought I knew. I was kind of hoping I didn’t.
“People want to connect with you, Walt.”
“Do they, though? I mean, really?”
“This avi isn’t you.”
“It is, me,” I said. “I chose it — how is not me?” I didn’t think he was listening, so I changed the subject. “I don’t like the word avi. Can we call it something else?”
“What do you want to call this?”
“Ooh,” said the not-nurse, shaking her head. “No.”
“Doctor…,” I began.
“Excuse me,” he said, pulling out his phone. He shook his head as he studied the screen, smiling, like everything was just so pleasing to him. He was so full of love, or something. He finished punching his thumb all over the screen, then kind of remembered where he was. At work. He saw me. He grinned. He said, “Walt.”
“So great to see you.”
“You know I was here before. Before that thing with your phone.”
“Last time, we talked about your personal brand.”
“You mean last time or two seconds ago? Because — ”
“Didn’t Walt and me talk about that?” he said to the not-nurse.
The not-nurse did her crinkle-smile, poked around on her laptop. “Pretty sure we did,” she said.
“We must have,” I agreed, ready to go. “I’m sure it was great.”
“Do you feel you have a consistent brand across your social media pages?” said The Great Blogger. “A solid platform?”
“Doctor,” I said, quickly rising. “I must be going.”
For the first time, the light left his eyes. He looked at me blankly. “I’m not following you,” he said.
“Is that a pun?” I said. “Are you being ironic?” I thought it might be good to use words incorrectly, thinking he might understand me better that way.
“Walt,” he said, as I pushed past him. “Don’t go. We haven’t examined your listicles.”
I made for the door.
“Walt, what about diversity? You could have made me a woman and our nurse a man!”
I left the office and shut the door behind me. I heard the not-doctor’s muffled voice cry out, “Why no transgender toddlers on the healthy-child side of the waiting room, Walt?!”