I’ve written and rewritten this particular post about a million times. Mostly I’ve gotten stuck on the opening paragraph. I’ve been trying to write an introduction that captures my actual feelings. I want to convey the level of delirious rapture, along with the abject terror and everything in between. But it doesn’t seem possible. Even with a thesaurus.
Friday afternoons I lead religious services at work. I actually lead two different services back to back in fairly quick succession. In between those services I generally have just enough time to put away my guitar, glance at my phone and have a sip of water (with which I always remind the members of the congregation that there is no drinking allowed in the synagogue – which always gets a big laugh…. every time). I shouldn’t have looked at my phone and tried to drink water at the same time this particular Friday. Because there was a text message from CVS simply stating “Your prescription is ready for pick up“. I gasped, choked, spluttered and wheezed, breathing in my mouthful of water and quickly coughing it out inelegantly. The only prescription I was aware of waiting to be filled was the testosterone. I couldn’t be 100% sure from the vague text, but I was reasonably confident that the only prescription the text message could have been about was the testosterone. Liquid exhilaration and ice cold apprehension coursed through me.
There are ways to sign-in to MYCVS app to get details from a text. But I had 75 people staring at me waiting for me to start services. And I had to clean up my H2O detonation before beginning. I could not focus. The welcoming the Sabbath service that I have led every Friday for 20 years, usually so gentle, smooth and easy with familiarity became muddled in my brain. Words and phrases and songs clustered in my mouth, crusting on my tongue. I choked out one choppy tuneless melody after another. I lost my place mid-reading, distracted by inner dialogues, worries and celebratory whoops of delight in my mind. I found myself absent, disoriented, quietly staring at confused faces looking back at me in puzzlement. What the fuck did I say out loud?! How long had I been sitting staring blankly not saying anything?! I could not finish the service fast enough. I skipped large sections, reading and singing quickly through. After services more than one colleague asked if everything was all right as I raced past them to the privacy of my office so I could check MYCVS app.
Indeed, the text was about the testosterone prescription. Indeed, the prescription had been filled and was waiting for me at my CVS. The single syllable “GAHK” escaped my lips as I tried to wrap my head around days and weeks and even years of yearning, possibility and hope answered. I was pretty sure it all might end in a flaming crash as I drove like a mental case to CVS.
I couldn’t seem to meet the eye of the pharmacist waiting on me, but I did watch out of the corner of my eye as she looked in bin after bin for my prescription. Emily texted me (nice timing) asking where I was. Our Shabbat dinner guests had arrived early and she was trying to wrangle the kids (mostly Ruby) and appetizers while finishing dinner prep and appearing totally prepared. It’s the kind of thing you want your spouse present for. I responded that I was on my way. The pharmacist was having a hard time locating my prescription and I was breaking out in a cold sweat, trying not to shit myself.
Not the size of a normal prescription, the pharmacist finally found it in an apparently unlikely place. I still could not make eye contact with her. It was a box 2 inches by 2 inches by 3 inches, which she placed in a bag along with the cotton balls and gum I had also purchased. She wished me a good evening and I scurried out to my car. My heart was pounding. I was desperate to open the package in my car and check it out. But I also knew that Emily was anxiously awaiting my arrival.
I was extremely jittery as I raced into the house and up the stairs, clumsily smuggling in my contraband under my jacket, trying to appear cool as the proverbial cucumber. With an almost imperceptible greeting to our guests I skittishly made my way to our bedroom on the third floor. I think I mumbled something about needing to change and or use the bathroom. Note to self: I would make a horrible thief or spy.
I neither went to the bathroom nor changed my clothes. I locked myself in the upstairs bathroom and tried to quietly open the package. Inside the box there were 15 metallic double packets, joined together by perforation, about the size and shape of “wet-naps”. The majority of the box was filled with several sheets of irregularly and poorly folded instructions. The information in the instructions was quite similar to what I’d already been told by my doctor: Use only as directed. Use daily at approximately the same time each day. Do not use more or less than prescribed. Do not get the gel on anyone or anything other than the person it was prescribed for. The surprising piece was where I was directed to rub the gel. Specifically, my shoulders. And, if need be, my belly. But shoulders were the preferred application site. I don’t know what I was expecting. Someplace a bit more exotic perhaps.
It made me remember one time a very long time ago at a family gathering. My grandmother was telling us about a Jackie Collins novel she was reading and was explaining to us, with hilarity, the outrageous, ludicrous and absurd ridiculousness of the imagination of the author. “Where does she come up with these ideas!?” she laughed. In regard to a particular story describing oral sex, my grandmother exuberantly proclaimed that she would “no sooner lick someone’s shoulder”!! To which my uncle patted my grandfather lovingly on the back and solemnly said, “sorry dad”.
But I digress. At any rate, I didn’t have too much time to further consider the instructions, nor did I really need to. As I have already said, my spouse and our dinner guests were downstairs waiting for me. And there was nothing more that I could do with the testosterone in that moment. There was much I had to consider before starting it. Not the least of which was that Emily had no idea. I put that and other thoughts of starting testosterone away and mentally prepared myself for dinner. I hugged the box lovingly and hid it in a safe and very secret place (my underwear drawer) and went downstairs. Shabbat Shalom!