Time ravages beauty.

Bones fray, joints wear, skin wrinkles, hair recedes, veins show, teeth rot, pain asserts.

Betty is an office nicety. Diligent, personable, friendly, orderly. She's worked the same desk for years, such that her boss probably doesn't even notice her comings and goings. She just had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. How a baseball pitcher's injury has afflicted her perplexes. Surgeons enjoy doing the same en vogue procedures, so when someone complains of shoulder pain, they put on their medicine-man hat and break out the standard remedy. The ceremony of visiting a Doctor must appear strange to complete foreigners to our culture just as the drug-affected tribal medicine-man with his ceremony and herbal remedies seems odd and ineffective to us. You arrive at the Doctor's office, greet someone behind a sliding glass window and then wait for an inordinate, unpredictable amount of time. You read picture-heavy collections of writing that you would never read anywhere else but in this one place. They are time-wasters and nothing more. Someone emerges from a door leading to a hallway, calls your name and ushers you into another room to wait again, this time all by yourself. Imprisoned, with nothing but thoughts as company, you wait again for an indiscriminate amount of time. People often require the presence of a family member during these visits. They simply can't stand being alone and uncertain, like a convict awaiting trial. Then there's a knock, followed by the Doctor's entry. They knock because they have established a space for you and a loved one to exist, and it would exhibit impropriety to just barge in. But you can't deny their entry. In fact the knock is quite welcome--the final stage of the Doctor-visit-ceremony.

Betty was there with her husband--a solid and dependable, if not complex man. Betty's Doctor's (Doctor X) demeanor is also a matter of ceremony. Doctor X enters with file-in-hand: the paper and X-Ray representation of Betty as a person and her ailment. Dr. X is not much for small talk, engaging in just enough to be polite. This characterizes the Doctor's entire modus operandi: he's a pragmatist. After the initial how-do-you-do, he gets right down to business. Speaking with Dr. X is as close to "you'll speak when spoken to" without being exactly so. He allows Betty to talk, but he commands enough respect that you would never interrupt them. That's worse than the Dr. entering without knocking. Betty's questions and comments relating to her condition are answered medically and patiently. Anything not related to your condition, something such as, "I just want to get this over with as quickly as possible so I can get my settlement" or "I've always liked Doctors in movies" gets ignored quietly and smoothly like a politician deflecting a stupid question.