Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Are You Virtuous?

The lecture part of one of our major subjects, Human Anatomy, was what we dreaded the most during our sophomore year in college. For a good reason. It was handled by a reputable surgeon and Medical Director -- a tall, lanky man with graying hair who seldom smiled and only seemed to wear either a serious or stern expression on his face. He had eyes that were alert and shrewd, reminding you of a predatory animal ready to pounce on his prey. All you needed to do was take one look at him and you'd instantly get the feeling that he was a "no non-sense" type of man. He was a actually a decent, well-respected man who was brilliant in his chosen profession and while his methods of teaching were very unconventional, they were very effective and you would learn so much from a few minutes of listening to him than you ever would from reading a reference book for hours. At least, I did. Like I said, his teaching methods were often out of this world and most of the time, he used symbolism to get his message across.

Who could ever forget the way he likened the lungs and their alveoli to paper bags filled with peanuts? Or the way he pinched one of my classmates, Erika, until he got the exact reaction he wanted out of her while he was lecturing to us about pain? What about the day Lester mistakenly referred to one of the brain neurons as "axion" instead of "axon" and somebody yelled, "I didn't realize the brain had a dishwashing detergent" which had us all laughing to the utter disappointment of the the good doctor? What he said then has been etched forever in my mind.

"Why are you laughing? You are all here to learn. You should not laugh at the mistakes of your peers. You are all here to learn and you will make mistakes along the way. All of you."

There sure had been times when the good doctor would drive us all crazy, commenting about how our knowledge was "abyssmal" when we could not answer some of his questions. At times, he'd ask you what you could see on the board.

"The heart." You'd say, only for him to tell you pointedly that what you're seeing is simply a drawing done in red chalk. Arrgh. If it wasn't that, he'd call your attention and ask you to stand up during class recitation and then he'd tell you bluntly, "Well, don't just stand there. Say something!"

"Something," one of my classmates said pertly when she'd been asked that question and what do you know? The good doctor clapped his hands and smiled, saying,

"Good. Now, sit down".

But there was that incident in class that I know I will never ever forget for the rest of my life. It was the day the good doctor hopped in front of one female student to another, asking the question that has never left my mind all these years.

"Are you virtuous?"

No one answered. Again, he jumped right in front of yet another one of my female classmates and asked her the same question, "Are you virtuous?" My classmate only cowered in her chair.

"No one in this class knows what the word virtuous means? " He yelled in disbelief and then, pacing the floor once more, I saw him head my way and I immediately lowered my gaze to stare at my shoes in the hope that he would simply pass me by. Fat chance of that happening. The good doctor jumped right in front of me and asked in a voice loud enough to wake even the dead, "So, are you virtuous?"

In a meek voice, I managed to say, "Yes, Doc, I am."

He stared at me for a few moments as if to assess me and then with a nod, he moved away and told the whole class, "Now, there's a smart girl. For those of you who have no idea what the question Are You Virtuous means, it's simply another way of asking Are You A Virgin? or Are You Chaste?"

Well, I didn't really think my classmates were that stupid not to know what the word virtuous meant. It was quite possible that they were simply terrified or intimidated by the good doctor. Well, what girl wouldn't be startled when she's asked a question like that by a man who not only spoke in a highly authoritative voice but also happened to be standing directly in front, with both hands on each side of his waist, his hips slightly thrusting forward...and the fly of his trousers partially open? :) Sheesh, I nearly even fainted. LOL.

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