THE BIG CHILL
FINDING A PEA-SIZED LUMP INSPIRES A NAMELESS GEORGE CLOONEY LOOKALIKE TO LEAVE NO BODY PART UNTURNED IN HIS QUEST FOR A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH.
FEATURES Trent Dalton confronts mortality, and some imaginary Hollywood pals, when he finds a small lump.
HE wore his finest suit. He had learned long ago that most acts of trespass can be achieved by simply wearing a respectable suit. He scurried undetected through the empty corridors, searching for a staircase leading to the building’s rooftop. A smartly dressed government worker passed, eyed him suspiciously. “Can I help you?” the worker asked. “I’m trying to access the rooftop,” he said. “Why do you want to go up there?” He searched for an answer. There was only one truthful response. “Because there’s a pea-sized lump inside my scrotum.”
In the interests of digestion and visual dissociation, our patient in the following story will take the form of a man with physical characteristics not dissimilar to George Clooney’s. His GP will be played by Clint Eastwood, and his genitals will be played by Danny DeVito.
There’s no point pondering why this Clooney-like character scratched his testicles that night. To ponder why a man scratches his testicles is to ponder why day turns to night. It just happens. He was relaxed in his cotton pyjamas, lost in the sedating ennui of evening television, when three words entered his mind, smashing his mindless reverie. “Pea-sized lump!” he whispered.
They were words that had long chilled his bones, like “colonic irrigation” and “tax time”. He first heard them in high school, uttered by a nurse warning a library full of giggling students about the signs of testicular cancer. “Between your forefinger and thumb you might feel a pea-sized lump,” she had said. But was such a lump normal, or a sign of cancer? He wished he’d listened harder in the library that day. But his thoughts had been consumed by Julie-Anne Major’s left calf and a pyramid he was making out of coloured pencils.
“Hmmh!” he said to himself now. “I should tell someone about this.” And so he told his wife, sitting next to him on the couch. She frowned with frustration; they argued about his lax attitude to his long-term health then, satisfied he’d finally done something proactive to address the lump in his scrotum, he brought his investigations to a close.
A full year passed and still he ignored the lump – just as he ignored the shooting pain that randomly paralysed his lower neck; the throbbing ache that frequently poked at his right armpit; the unsettling stomach bug he brought back from Nepal; the fact his left leg was a fraction longer than his right; and the long, tragic history of cancer in his family.
Danny DeVito’s voice first entered his mind in a traffic jam. “Where are you going?” DeVito asked.
“I’m going to get that lump down there checked out,” he replied.
“What? Get outta here! I got all sorts of stuff down here: lumps, stringy masses, Russian space junk, Lara Bingle’s engagement ring . . . it’s nothing. You’re gonna tell some quack about it and you know what’s gonna happen?” “What?” “A grown man is gonna play with your balls.” “Shut up. Don’t be so childish. It’s a routine check-up. Happens all the time.”