THE international TV hit House, as if you didn’t know, stars Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, an obnoxious, arrogant lout who almost makes up for his countless character flaws with his brilliance. His crack team of second bananas tries to help him out, as in this exclusive Going Coastal episode of House, crafted by me last Tuesday.
(Scene: A glass-walled hospital room full of five people in doctors’ whites.)
House: Good morning, idiots. A double good morning to the moron in Maybelline, Not-a-Doctor-Yet-or-Possibly-Ever, Martha M. Masters.
(Doctors Chris Taub, Robert Chase, Eric Foreman and medical student Martha Masters glare at him in silence.)
House: (Nastily) Clever as ever! Well, any thoughts on our latest ‘victim’? Mizzzzz Masters, sum up, s’il vous plait – or even if it doesn’t please you.
Masters: Male, 50, presenting with 104 degree fever, allover pain, head feels like ‘concrete,’ red eyes, purple nose, extreme fatigue.
Taub: How extreme?
Masters: He wouldn’t even get up to use the bathroom.
House: That’s not fatigue – that’s conserving energy. It was likely prompted by the fact that, unlike at home, we have hot nurses on staff to sponge him down afterward. I like Clementine – I often relieve myself at my desk just so she can work her magic afterward. Don’t tell Cuddy! Dr. Chase?
Chase: No, I use the facilities. That’s what they’re there for.
House: I meant, do you have thoughts on our patient? I wondered whether your medical degree had helped you learn to think for yourself – to diagnose illnesses, for instance.
Chase: Any sign of brain trauma?
House: Any sign of a brain in your head, Chase? If he’d had brain trauma, surely Masters here would have mentioned it. She’s not as dumb as she looks – I mean, that would be impossible.
Masters: We’ve done an MRI – all clear.
Taub: I went over to his apartment to hunt for clues and saw no signs of recent concrete pours, cement mixers parked indoors, or anything like that. Just a helluvalot of half-eaten oranges.
Foreman: A craving for oranges can indicate scurvy.
House: Or a relentless search for a rhyme for door-hinge. Next?
Masters: I’m puzzled by the body aches. The man hasn’t been beaten, and he never works out. If not, why is he so tired that he fell asleep while Dr. Cuddy was bending over him in one of her low-cut tops?
House: (With relish) She is a nasty one! So, he fell asleep…. Has he recently been in sub-Saharan Africa?
Masters: It’s doubtful. Are you thinking Human African trypanosomiasis?
House: Well, it is endemic, according to Wikipedia -- which is epidemic. How many people are afflicted with sleeping sickness per year, Masters?
Masters: 50,000 to 70,000. In 2008, 48,000 people died of it.
House: And how many people are afflicted with Wikipedia?
Masters: Practically everybody -- none fatally.
Foreman: But to be infected with lethargy virus, he would have had to be bitten by a tsetse fly. Not many of those here in New Jersey.
House: Good point, Foreman. He must have cancer. I see our oncologist, Wilson, walking by. Masters, flash your ta-tas at him through the glass walls. Otherwise, why have glass walls?
(Masters shoots a dirty look at House, then waves at Wilson, who enters.)
Wilson: No, your patient does not have cancer. Why do you suspect that every single week?
House: Lack of imagination? We were really hoping for African sleeping sickness, but he’s not a traveller, or porphyria, but he has no abdominal pains, or vertigo, but he can’t stand Hitchcock movies. I was rooting for a fatal overdose of headcheese, but I’m surrounded by incompetence. Even poisoning by belladonna plant would do, if he had a melodramatic English major girlfriend we could blame that on. All day long I’ve been listening to this guy weeping down the hall, calling for a priest, like that’ll do him any good. It’s not that I care, but I’m not ‘allowed’ to put him out of his misery, and anyway, I don’t have a big enough pillow. I thought you could start him on some bogus treatment and get him out of our hair.
Wilson: House, your compassion knows no bounds.
Foreman: Can we get back to diagnosing our patient? What about MS? Aching body, fatigue….
House: Do people with multiple sclerosis describe themselves as blockheaded, like our hero?
Foreman: He didn’t say he was blockheaded, he said his head felt like it was full of concrete.
House: I bet Masters could say the same thing.
Masters: We’re forgetting the purple nose – meningococcal meningitis? -- and the red eyes. They could signify serious ocular disease.
House: Or conjunctivitis, in which case we merely spank the little bounder and send him home.
Taub: What about photophobia, extreme sensitivity to light? His apartment seemed awfully dark. Did he prefer it that way? Did he fall down a long staircase repeatedly, until he knocked himself out? Maybe when he came to, he couldn’t remember what he’d done.
House: Bingo! Case closed.
Chase: Photophobia is caused by iritis, an inflammatory disease of the eye….
House: Shut up, Chase, it’s not iritis. That’s really boring. Foreman, has he mentioned seeing coloured halos? They could mean -- Masters?
Masters: Corneal edema, acute open-angle glaucoma….
Masters: Ascension into heaven?
House: People, I’m stumped. I’m going to go right into that room and bang this loser on the head with a blunt object until he gives us more data. The murderer will be “The Genius in the ICU Unit with the bedpan,” if anyone asks.
(House lurches toward the door, to be met by a smirking Dr. Cuddy.)
Cuddy: House, any particular reason you’ve got five doctors and three buxom nurses running around Mr. Shmeagle?
House: My heart of gold?
Cuddy: Mr. Shmeagle is not dying.
House: Oh, really. So you, hospital administrator, who graduated from medical school second best – not first best -- in your class, are going to arbitrarily discharge dear, sainted Mr. Shmeagle, who may well be suffering from a rare combination of vertigo, porphyria, sleeping sickness, headcheese overdose, and, I’ll wager, foxynursedisease? Have you no heart beating under that darling Victoria’s Secret push-up bra of yours?
Cuddy: Mr. Shmeagle will not die, but despite your medical omnipotence, you cannot cure him of the common cold. He needs bed rest, fluids, aspirin and tissues. And if you weren’t such a misanthropic quack, you’d fix him a hot buttered rum. Now pinch me, you Monster of Love.