Hands already wearing gloves, poised to take the laryngoscope and ram a tube down a gasping patient’s throat while in the sauna that is the ER, when an intern approached me hurriedly and asked something about another patient, “About the other patient, why COPD? Why not asthma?” “Er,” I said, as I glimpsed at the patient beside me turn midnight blue. “Why COPD and not asthma?” he asked, genuinely concerned, “isn’t wheezing the sine-qua-non of asthma?” “Becausehehasasignificantsmokinghistorybastaheisnow stablebastakahitanopwede,” I said in one breath. Whenever I panic I speak really, really, really fast.
Sine-qua-non! Someone actually uses sine-qua-non in everyday conversation! Since then I would refer to wheezing as SQN, ie, “You have asthma and I am hearing something in your lungs, and it’s… SQN!” When I was an intern I don’t think I even knew what the fuck—sorry—what the fornicate sine-qua-non was. Or I might have heard of it, but might have thought it was something out of Legal Med, like res ipsa loquitur, which is probably the only thing I remember about Legal Med. Wait, I think we also had a lecture on virginity, carnal knowledge, and other such constructs, the differences among which I no longer remember, except that the hymen and whatever ruptures it count. All I remember is that during the board exams there was this very important, career-defining question that I failed to answer—A cracked egg is called A. Rots B. Sots C. Spoiled. Or was that in Preventive Medicine? The heat is making me dizzy.
Speaking of heat, the heat is indeed making me dizzy, and loony, and forgetful. The ER is a total sauna with an active heater, with gangrenous feet (and nape, and back, and everything) and different kinds of stools as air freshener. It is so hot that if that walking chocolate guy in the Axe commercial walks in there, in two seconds we can place him in a paper cup—and other corny hyperboles.
The hottest day ever, however, was during our baccalaureate mass in the Malate Church some 3 years ago. For some reason I was the only one who had this foresight and therefore wore a really old and comfortable short-sleeved shirt, because everyone else wore long-sleeved shirts with neckties. Some girls even wore gowns with tiaras and a scepter—no, wait, that was during the Kalayaan Dorm Acquaintance Party 12 years ago. By Homily everyone had jabar reaching down the waist. And just when I thought I could run away right after the mass, there was… some awarding or ritual of sorts!!! Mega-active and participative batchmates went in front and started handing out certificates one by one to loyal batchmates who did remarkable stuff for the batch. I never did anything remarkable, so I just sweated to total wetness as I watched prestigious batchmates go in front. And then there was… an audio-visual presentation! And then… speeches! Of many people! And then… a presentation of the time capsule!
According to the programme the time capsule thing would be one of the last activities of the day, and just when I thought it would end in a few seconds the hostess of the portion started with…
“The concept of the time capsule started in ancient Sumeria…”
Ancient Sumeria! This must have snapped the same cord in Flukeman’s head, as he immediately texted me, from some two seats away, “Just open the fucking time capsule already!” Followed by Mrs. Therese’s text: “Huuuungh!” Followed by Ditz the Titz’s text (who wasn’t there, but was watching a rerun of American Idol at home) “Guess what, na-vote out na si Elliot! Somewheeeeeeere! Ooooover the raaaainbow!!!”
I can’t recall if the time capsule history ever reached modern Manila, I can’t even recall what the heck were placed inside the time capsule, all I remember is that after everything, there was… a batch picture. Peeeekchur!