Dr. Phuphuey Plays Doctor

Dr. Phuphuey's Busy Day

Note: The names of the persons directly involved in the following account have been changed to protect their right to privacy, as guaranteed (okay, maybe not “guaranteed,” but “implied”) under the Medical Privacy Act of 1923, as first instituted quid pro quo somewhere in Liechtenstein; amended in 1927, somewhere in the Nether Parts; and later modified (see attached pamplet explaining “said” modifications) somewhere over the rainbow.


The waiting room was jam packed–elbows would definitely have touched if it were not for social outlawing. The atmosphere was deadly quiet, except for occasional coughs of adults and stabbing cries of children. In a chair in the far corner, a man about forty leaned slowly to one side, righted himself, and then nonchalantly fanned the newspaper he was holding. From out of nowhere, Nurse Whatsthebigfuss bustled into the center of the room.

“May I have your attention,” she said. “Dr. Phuphuey’s running a little behind schedule today; so we’re going to triple up in an effort to speed things along. Should work quite nicely, if everyone plays fair.”

There were nods, a few “hmmphs,” and one loud uncontrolled fart–followed by thirty stabs of accusing stares.

“Now,” said Nurse Whatsthebigfuss, fumbling with three charts, “Misters Hullaballoo, Aboutnothing, and Rinky…Dink, please follow me down the hall.” Two elderly gentlemen and a young man in his mid twenties rose and hesitantly followed. She led them to a small examination room with only one chair. “Perhaps you can play rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to sit,” she said.

The men were in the midst of determing the winner, when the door to the adjoining office burst open. It was Dr. Phuphuey. “Good afternoon, gentlemen,” he quipped. “Thank you for being so cooperative.”

“Ahem,” said Mr. Hullaballoo, averting his eyes. “Don’t you think you’ve forgot something?”

Dr. Phuphuey patted his chest, fumbled his hands into his labcoat pockets, and tugged at the stethoscope dangling around his neck. “Don’t think so,” he said. “Why do you ask?”

Young buck Rinkydink spoke: “‘Cause you’ve got no pants on.”

“Well, I doubt that,” said Dr. Phuphuey, staring straight ahead,” but the words were barely out of his mouth when his right hand–which had crawled downward as though by its own volition–patted “there” and confirmed the news. “Dang, if I’m not,” he said, with a guffaw. “A lesser man would be embarassed.” He dashed to the adjoining office and returned a minute later wearing baggy track pants. Mr. Rinkydink gave him a bold thumbs up.

“Mind if I smoke?” asked Dr. Phuphuey. He was flicking his lighter before they could answer. “Now,” he said, after a deep exhale, “to speed things along I’d like each of you to state your problem in three words or less. It will save us a lot of needless rambling on about details. We’ll cut straight to the chase. You first, Mr. Hullaballoo.”

“Headaches,” said Mr. Hullaballoo.

“Stress,” said Mr. Aboutnothing.

There was a sustained pause, accompanied by a drumming of fingers by Dr. Phuphuey. “And what about you, Mr. Wrinklydick?” he asked.

“That’s Rinkydink, if you don’t mind.”

“My apologies. So…spill the beans.”


Dr. Phuphuey thoughtfully stroked his chin. “I’m sensing a common thread. Do any of you watch the news?”

The three patients answered at once, their heads bobbing. The room was filled with their replies: “Most certainly;” “Morning, noon, and, night;” and “Ohh, yes, it’s my duty.”

“What we have here,” said Dr. Phuphuey, “is a case of Laughter Shortiticus. It’s characterized by signs and symptoms that we’re taking life far too seriously. When was the last time any of you laughed.”

Misters Rinkydink and Aboutnothing admitted that it had been months–the beginning of the year. “What about you, Mr. Hullabaloo?”

His eyes looked upward, as though searching for the memory. “August 12th, 1979,” he finally said.”

Dr. Phuphuey began to scribble furiously on his prescription pad, and then tore off the note and handed it to Mr. Rinkydink. “Take this to Nurse Whatsthebigfuss and have her make it out in triplicate. Follow these instructions three times a day, and check back with me in a month. I’ll make sure I’m wearing pants.


On the serious side, it’s a well-known fact that positive emotions play a very important part in keeping us well. The same holds true for hugs, kisses, and touch–all of which we’ve been deprived of during the last several months. Disease is often related to stress which reveals itself as a broken link in our chain of body, mind, and spirit. May this article help to alleviate some stress–even if only for a few minutes. God bless.

Dare to dream (and care for one another).

With heartfelt regards,


Copyright © – 2020–R. Arthur Russell

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