In a striking departure from convention, a local woman professes to dislike going to hospitals, whether for her own health or to visit an ailing friend. “Oh, I hate hospitals,” she confessed to a group of relatives planning to look in on a cousin recovering from surgery as if they were going recreationally and wanted to know if she thought it would be fun. “You might not have known this about me, but I really hate them.”
“There’s just something about them that creeps me out,” she added, as if the vast majority of humans who spend the majority of their daily lives denying the reality of sickness, pain and death did not harbor identical sentiments about facilities that by their very nature belied that common delusion, as if she were somehow alone in feeling this way, when in fact it is perhaps one of the commonest feelings shared by modern humans. “Something,” in this case, presumably referred to the presence of a great many frail and failing human bodies dying all together at once and yet simultaneously very alone; the horrible unpredictability of pain; the fallibility of the practice of medicine in general and of individual doctors in particular; the harsh institutionalized setting; the featureless food; the comfortless walls and accoutrements; the fear of being left ill and alone.
“You guys understand, right?” she asked, as if not enjoying hospitals was a legitimate reason for avoiding them, as if anyone who lives long enough does not have sufficient and specific reason to hate hospitals, having seen the face of someone they loved turn into the face of a dead person, which is to say the face of no one at all.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.