Some doctors serve wine in the reception area! I guess their patients must be more controlled than mine. If I served wine in the waiting room, it would be like the gladiators in the Coliseum, and I would probably be out there swinging my trident around, too. (We are a visceral bunch in West Virginia.)

In optometry school, once—and only once—I had a beer with lunch before heading back to the clinic. I was worthless the rest of the afternoon. As this was not unusual, none of my instructors noticed. But for me, I hated that sluggish, bloated feeling that comes from a single beer. That was probably the last time I ever had a single beer. Takes more than that to perk me up.

So, keep C2H6O as a line on the Snellen chart. Works better that way.

Hydratin’ & Dilatin’
But, booze aside, drinking in the office is very important. Explaining presbyopia 12 times a day can leave one parched. The body needs water to survive and I take a sip or two of H2O between every patient. My doctor told me it might help prevent kidney stones, and it doesn’t take too many kidney stones to convince even a dull boy like me that kidney stone prevention has merits.

But, my body had to adapt. In the beginning, “Which is better? Number one or number two?” quickly turned into numerous “number ones,” mostly between patients and sometimes during patients. But, over time, I adapted, and the experience led to me writing my very first professional grade joke, which is copyrighted but available for purchase or rent:

“You know, my wife and I stayed at a great hotel. Just wonderful! I got up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and, when I came out, I told my wife, ‘Honey, this hotel is awesome! The bathroom is amazing. I’ve never seen this before. It has a urinal! Looks just like a sink!’”

Cue rimshot! (Please contact my agent for details about how you can use this joke at your next office meeting or bar mitzvah.)

I try to keep two bottles of water in each room. One large one, as stated above, is for me and my kidney stones. The other, a hidden and small bottle, is for (a) the patient who will want my water as soon as he or she sees me take a hit, and (b) for the patient who gets into a coughing jag that lasts solong it cuts into my lunch hour, which is forbidden in Monty’s World.

We have a little dorm room-sized fridge available for the staff. Unfortunately, they still drink all my water, so I plan to name a kidney stone after each one of them, like the weather people do with hurricanes all season.

Finally, an admission: I have one beer in the office. When my friend, Dr. Mike Burke, an expatriate West Virginian practicing in North Carolina, was sworn in as president of the North Carolina Optometric Society back in 2003, he asked me to speak at the ceremony. I told him I would do it for a beer. So, that’s what he paid me and it sits in a prominent place between two boxes of frames we should have returned back in the 90s.

For the record, Mike, it was a joke. You can send me my real honorarium now. I’ll get that beer back to you once I’m paid.