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April 4, 2024 Click here to mail this page to a friend.
Ignoring Clint Eastwood's advice in "Dirty Harry" that opinions, like certain body parts, are best kept to yourself.
Circumcision - $4.08

This morning, looking for something else in a file of old papers, I came across this, the hospital receipt for my circumcision in 1943:

Years ago, when my dad died, I went to the bank to have the safe deposit box opened. Right on top was the bill from the hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for my circumcision, a whopping four dollars and eight cents, back when money had real value. I knew immediately why he put it there, he knew I'd see it, that was his sense of humor, and in my mind's eye I can see the smile on his face when he did it.

My daughter Sarah says that everything I say comes from a movie, and Actor James Mason's famous line from the 1982 Paul Newman film "The Verdict" comes to mind, when as the attorney for the other side, he broke one of the most important courtroom rules for an attorney, and he paid dearly for his mistake when he asked the hospital nurse on the stand who had just pulled out a photocopy of the hospital admittane from her purse:

"Objection!" Mason cried out, "Overruled!" said the judge. Nervously approaching the witness, Mason asked, "Why on earth would you keep a copy of such an obscure document?" It was about to get very interesting.

The woman replied as she started to cry, "After the operation, when that poor girl she went into a coma, Dr. Towler called me in. He told me that he'd had five difficult deliveries in a row and he was tired... and he never looked at the admittance form. And he told me to change the form. He told me to change the '1' to a '9'... or else... or else he said, he said he'd fire me. He said I'd never work again. Who were these men? Who were these men? I wanted to be a nurse!"

James Mason's character had just lost the case by asking a question he didn't already know the answer to, breaking a cardinal rule in courtroom performance.

Why did my dad hang on to that obscure hospital receipt? I'm convinced it was to tease me someday, maybe on his way out the door, and he did.

Not all stories have to be long and complicated to be memorable.

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