The Doctor Is In
Ms. Yoo He-yi, what may I do for you today? Are you feeling unwell?
Yes, Dr. Kim. I have suspected food poisoning!
Suspected? Did you throw up? Did you go to the toilet several times…
No, I suspect the guys tried to poison my food!
The three A.N.JELL guys! All I wanted was to update my homepage with new pictures and I thought of a brilliant idea: a meal with my darling Tae-kyung. So I went to the supermart and you wouldn’t believe how hard it was for me to just buy pasta and veggies. It took forever because I had to keep stopping to sign autographs. Would you like me to sign one for you, Dr. Kim?
Perhaps later. You were talking about your food poisoning…
Ah, yes. So I finally got the groceries and went to the A.N.JELL house and you wouldn’t believe how delighted the guys were to see me. When I suggested making spaghetti, they volunteered to do all the preparation. They even donned matching aprons, so cute!
Hmm, since they seemed so enthusiastic about cooking for you, why did you suspect them of trying to poison you? Did you fall ill after eating the food?
Wait, let me finish. The guys thought I wasn’t looking, but out of the corner of my eye I saw Shin-woo putting a lot of salt into the sauce. Jeremy, too. He poured so much sugar, enough to make ten cakes! But most shocking of all was my Tae-kyung. He emptied a whole bottle of vinegar into the pasta!
If he’s ‘your’ Tae-kyung, why would he…
(shrieks from outside consultation room)
Excuse me, Ms. He-yi. There seems to be a commotion outside. Let me check.
(doc opens door and sticks his head out)
Nurse Dee, what is going on?
Oh my god, he is here, he is here! In this very clinic, oh my god!
Calm down, Nurse Dee. Who is here?
Hwang Tae-kyung! From A.N.JELL! He just stepped in!! Am I dreaming? Pinch me, Dr. Kim!
I have no intention of ever pinching you, Nurse Dee. We’re terribly shorthanded today, so please register Mr. Hwang while I finish up with Ms. He-yi.
(doc closes door and turns around, but the patient is nowhere in sight)
Hmm, where did she go? And what’s this note on the desk?
“Dear doc, I was never here. Goodbye. Consider this my autograph. If you sell it, it should more than pay for my consultation today. Sincerely, Yoo He-yi”
Nurse Dee, did you see Ms. He-yi leaving by the back door? Nurse Dee!
(nurse emerges from behind the counter, a measuring tape in her hands)
Nurse Dee, what are you doing with that tape?
I’m going to take Hwang Tae-kyung’s height, Dr. Kim.
Don’t we have a height chart over there? Why do you need a measuring tape?
Oh, that chart stops at 1.8m and Hwang Tae-kyung is 1.82m. It says so on his official fan site.
I see. And you needed to confirm the stats yourself, I’m sure. Just don’t take forever. Send Mr. Hwang in when you’re done. How many patients after him?
None, Dr. Kim. We have all the time in the world. As soon as Hwang Tae-kyung walked in, I put up this sign outside our door:
CLOSED FOR THE DAY
You what? We have overheads to pay, Nurse Dee! Take that sign down at once!
(ten minutes later)
Yes, Mr. Hwang. What may I do for you today? Your face looks flushed.
Oh, it was warm outside, especially when the nurse was taking my height. She kept asking me to turn around. It made me a little dizzy. If we weren’t in a clinic I would have thought she was a tailor the way she measured me so precisely.
I’m so sorry. I’ll make sure to reprimand Nurse Dee later. So, what is ailing you today?
I’ve been feeling strange lately. I have heart palpitations. Feelings of insecurity. My mind keeps mulling over the number 100. I never used to like people touching me, but now my arms ache to hold her…
Yes, Nurse Dee? What is it?
Excuse me, doc, but I’m wondering if Mr. Hwang Tae-kyung needs a chest X-ray. He’ll have to take off his shirt…
Nurse Dee, we don’t do X-rays. Please close the door. Close your mouth, too. You’re making our patient uncomfortable.
(nurse steps outside reluctantly)
Let’s deal with the symptoms one by one. You were saying you have heart palpitations, Mr. Hwang?
Yes. My heart beats so fast whenever a certain person is around. And if she isn’t around, I find myself rushing to be by her side. Even when it’s night and I can’t see well, I must drive to her. I want to tell her how I feel, yet I couch my declarations with vagary and false bravado. Instead of saying, “I like you,” I tell her that it’s okay for her to like me. When she misunderstood me and thought I was saying she could be my fan, I created a fake membership quiz for her just to test her feelings for me. When she gave me a low score, my spirits sank. When she gave me 100 points, I jumped for joy. I’ve never felt so conflicted.
I see. It sounds like something that science has yet to find a cure for. I could prescribe something for the palpitations, but I think the best medicine is simply knowing she returns your affection… What is it this time, Nurse Dee?
Ehh, I thought I heard the patient coughing and wondered if he needed some water.
Mr. Hwang is not coughing, Nurse Dee. Close the door, thank you. Sorry for that interruption, Mr. Hwang. As I was saying, the best cure would be knowing she feels the same way for you.
I think she does because of how she treasured the hair clip I bought for her. I feel that we are close, but sometimes she doesn’t seem to know me all that well. When I was driving her back from the park, I wanted us to behave like a couple so I asked her to feed me the tangerines that Mother Superior had given to her, but she fed me the most sour ones! Doesn’t she know how much I hate sour things?
Well, it’s not easy trying to read each other’s minds. Why don’t you tell her exactly how you feel?
I tried! When she asked me to sing “Fly Me to the Moon,” I sang with so much emotion it should be clear I meant the words just for her. I stared deep into her eyes when I sang the last line: “I love you.”
That’s a lovely song. How did she respond?
She didn’t say anything, but she looked touched and happy. Another time when we were practising in the studio, just the two of us, I asked her to stick closely by my side. It should be obvious to her that she matters to me, right? Yet why do I still feel insecure? When I found out she was going to stay the night in Busan with Shin-woo, my mind kept conjuring up these unpleasant possibilities. What if my approval ratings in her eyes dropped below 100 points? I wouldn’t be able to bear it even if it drops by just one point!
Ah, so that’s what you meant earlier when you said you kept thinking about the number 100. I thought you…
Dr. Kim, you called me?
No, I didn’t, Nurse Dee. Close the door. Please continue, Mr. Hwang.
I rushed to the airport, but I couldn’t find her anywhere inside the terminal. Just as I was on the verge of driving to Busan, I saw her in the parking lot! I didn’t care if anyone was looking, all I wanted at that moment was to hold her and never let her go.
Was your heart pounding?
Yes! I was so happy and relieved. I hugged her and said, “I give you the same points.”
Would she understand what you mean?
Of course! No one else knows about the points… Wait a minute. She doesn’t know I was impersonating as the webmaster when she was doing the quiz. I’ll have to explain to her. I should do it now. Thank you, Dr. Kim. I feel so much better just talking to you. May I leave by the back door? And please send my company the bill. Goodbye.
Sure, I’ll do that. Have a good day, Mr. Hwang. See me again in a week if the palpitations persist.
(Hwang Tae-kyung leaves; doc steps out to look for the nurse)
He left? HE LEFT? I didn’t get a chance to explain the prescription to him! I was going to give him detailed instructions! I was going to give him my phone…
Nurse Dee, a man of his age does not have to be told how to take medicine. Anyway, he didn’t need a prescription. Stop beating your chest and call the next patient, thanks.
(Jeremy staggers in)
Yes, Mr. Jeremy. What can I do for you today? You look pale.
I have food poisoning, doctor. I ate this spaghetti that had more salt, sugar and vinegar combined than the pasta itself.
(doc raises his eyebrows but his voice does not give anything away)
I see. And did you eat anything else other than the spaghetti?
Yes, I had some fried rice, but it’s the spaghetti that’s making me ill. Too much salt and sugar is one thing, but that Tae-kyung had to dump that whole bottle of vinegar into the pasta! Of all things he had to choose vinegar, aigoo! It’s so sour it’s gutting my insides.
Oh, a friend was playing a prank on you?
No, not on me but on someone that we all dislike. Tae-kyung hates her the most. He calls her “Liar,” but she doesn’t seem to mind it one bit and keeps clinging to him like mildew. She’s been giving us a lot of grief, threatening us with this and that, and we wanted to teach her a lesson. But that smarty-pants must have wised up to what we were doing because instead of eating the spaghetti, she asked Mi-nam to eat it!
So how did you end up with the food poisoning? Did you eat the spaghetti on your friend’s behalf? Anyway, food pranks can be dangerous. Some people have very severe reactions. But since you are able to walk, it looks like yours is not as worrisome. I’ll give you an injection to relieve the cramps and something else to take orally. You should feel better in a day or two. Take light meals and minimize strenuous activities.
(Jeremy yelps weakly as the doc administers the injection)
Thank you, doc. I’ll wait outside. My friend is here to see you as well. I also promised your nurse an autograph. I think she said something about being an A.N.JELL fan. I couldn’t hear her clearly because she kept dabbing her eyes as she spoke. She seemed to be in tears even before we came in.
Ah, yes. She’s a little distraught at the moment. Have a good day, Mr. Jeremy.
(Jeremy leaves and Shin-woo enters)
Mr. Kang, how can I help you today? Do you have food poisoning like your friend Jeremy?
No, Jeremy’s the only one with the upset tummy. Actually there’s nothing wrong with me, but since I accompanied Jeremy here, he insisted that I see you. I haven’t been eating or sleeping well, that’s all.
I see. When did the insomnia start?
It’s been a while. I just have a harder time falling asleep, but it’s gotten worse lately. Also, my parents said I lost a lot of weight. Maybe it’s because I just don’t have much of an appetite.
I see. Insomnia and loss of appetite could be due to stress. Do you normally experience these symptoms when you are under a lot of pressure?
(Shin-woo’s eyes redden suddenly; he blinks and looks away, biting his lower lip)
Mr. Kang, it might be helpful if you talk about your feelings rather than bottling them inside. Take your time. Rest assured that whatever you say in this room will be kept strictly confidential.
(after a minute, Shin-woo looks up and starts speaking)
I knew who she was from the beginning and I watched over her. I loved her so much, still do. I thought if I took her away from him, that she might start to like me a little. We were playing this fake couple, but I wanted us to be a real couple. Even though we made up a story, our love story, I wanted so badly for it to be true. The day I prepared the flowers, reserving the entire restaurant just for us, she would hear my confession and she would accept my feelings. We would go for dates at the amusement park, and ride the Viking, and I would hold her close to me so that she wouldn’t be afraid. We would stroll down the streets of Myeongdong. We would go to the playground, I would kiss her, our first kiss.
(Shin-woo pauses, his face drawn)
You created a fake love story together? But why, Mr. Kang?
That reporter kept hounding us, claiming he had discovered her identity. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to talk about what the reporter found out. I need to protect her privacy.
I understand. So, is this lady aware of your true feelings for her?
Yes, she does now. But even before I told her how I felt, things were getting awkward because someone found the flowers and shoes that I was planning to give to this girl. This person forced the girl to wear the shoes. All of my feelings for the girl are in that pair of green shoes, so to see her wearing them in that forced and uncomfortable manner, it felt like my feelings were on display for everyone to see and mock at. How I wished at that moment that I had thrown the shoes away!
The person who forced the girl to wear the shoes… Why would she do that?
I don’t know. She’s obsessed with my band leader and perhaps she’s jealous that he is close to this girl. Perhaps she knows that this girl likes the band leader.
(Shin-woo pauses again, much longer this time, his eyes fixed on an invisible spot on the opposite wall)
So this girl likes someone else. I see.
In spite of that, I still clung to my foolish hopes. On the day that we were supposed to leave for Busan to meet my parents, the other three people who were going with us suddenly had other commitments. I was secretly pleased that it would just be the two of us and somehow that thought made me bold, made me reckless. So I asked her at the airport if we could date for real. If she would try to forget the guy she liked, she could take a step toward me and we could start walking together, slowly and at her pace. If she agreed, we would then go and meet my parents for real, rather than as a pretend couple. But…
(Shin-woo covers his face with his hands; the doc remembers what Tae-kyung had told him earlier)
Are you all right, Mr. Kang? Would you like some water?
(Shin-woo looks up, tears in his eyes)
I’m sorry, but I don’t have anything else to say. I hope you understand.
I do, Mr. Kang, I do.
Before that day at the airport, even though I had not confessed my feelings to her, I felt as if I had already been rejected a hundred times. When she didn’t show up at the restaurant, when she didn’t see me in Myeongdong, when she didn’t understand why I stepped forward to shield her at the auditorium, it hurt. I was like a shadow, a face she couldn’t see. But when she didn’t take the flight with me to Busan, that hurt the most. Because at that time she already knew how I felt, yet she didn’t come. I waited and waited. I was so hopeful, just like that day at the playground when we created our make-believe love story. I am such a fool.
Yes, that must have been painful. I understand why you would have trouble eating and sleeping.
(a knock on the door; Jeremy peeks in)
Sorry to interrupt you, Dr. Kim, but I was just wondering if Shin-woo is okay.
(Shin-woo stands up)
Thank you, Dr. Kim. I don’t think I need any medicine, so I’ll take my leave now. Thank you for listening. I do feel better.
Ah yes, okay then. Get plenty of rest, Mr. Kang. Time is the best healer. Please call me if you feel unwell.
I will. Goodbye then.
(Jeremy and Shin-woo leave)
Nurse Dee, I heard that you wanted their autographs. Did you get them? Why are you looking so morose?
Doc, if you wanted a Lamborghini but got a Lexus instead, would you be happy? Kang Shin-woo and Jeremy are nice, but my heart belongs to Hwang Tae-kyung! How could he leave without saying goodbye to me?
Nurse Dee, I drive a Kia and I’m content. Don’t hanker after that which is unattainable. Don’t dream the impossible dream. Be a fan but a realistic one. Don’t be… Oh my god, did Mo Hwa-ran just walk in? Oh my god!
(doc dashes off to the washroom to rearrange the few strands of hair on his balding pate; reappears with what he hopes is a charming smile plastered on his face)
Ah, Ms. Mo… Mo… Hwa-ran. I… I… I… am de… de… lighted to meet you.
Dr. Kim, why are you stuttering when you talk to Ms. Hwa-ran?
Nurse Dee, isn’t it time for your lunch? You may leave. Don’t forget to put up the sign outside. You know, that sign.
Oh, the “Closed For The Day” sign? But it’s only 11.00 am. You said we had rent and overheads to…
Haha, my nurse is such a chatterbox. Haha. Please step this way, Ms. Mo… Mo…
Just call me Hwa-ran.
(inside the consultation room)
Ms. Hwa… Hwa-ran, are you unwell? Please don’t be unwell!
No, I’m fine. I’m actually here on behalf of a friend. This friend has been missing her old love and the pain is unbearable. Also, she recently found out that her son is extremely close to this man’s daughter, who is pretending to be a guy, ha! She thought no one would know, but it was easy-peasy for me, I mean for my friend to find out. My friend is not only a beauty, she has brains!
Ehh… Ms. Hwa-ran, is your friend physically ill?
Of course she’s ill. She cries all the time whenever she’s alone. Every second that she’s apart from the man is sheer hell. All she can think of is him. Nothing else matters, not even her son.
Hmm, that is not right, is it? How can a mother not think of her son at all? Such a woman is worse than an animal, if you don’t mind me saying.
Doctor! Did I ask for your opinion? How can you jump to such conclusions about a helpless woman who is suffering? And why have you stopped stammering? Continue to quiver in my presence!
Oh, I’m so sorry, Ms. Hwa… Hwa…
Don’t you Hwa-ran me, you dunce. What is this world coming to when a woman can’t pine for her lost love without people casting stones at her? Can’t you be more compassionate? I’m a star, you owe me that much!