10 April 2000


"Nuts, Noses, & Knees"


Major Philip Gold, United States Marine Corps Reserve, (Honorary Retired)




I had to lie to get into the Marines. I had (and have) terrible hay
fever and a few other allergies. As a child, I had asthma and lots of
other stuff, fifteen years of shots and medications . . . all in all, a
legitimate IV-F medical exemption from military service.

Lying wasn't hard, since everybody took the same rush-'em-through
entrance physical down at the draft board and if you checked "no" on the
questionnaire, nobody challenged it. Especially if you were carrying
around a 5x8 note card that had "USMC volunteer" scrawled on it in Magic
Marker.

So I lied. A few days later, I talked with a classmate who was also
lying like crazy, to beat the draft. I told him about my own falsehoods.
He looked at me with an expression of total disgust and said, "I'd trade
my nuts for your nose."

I thought about it for a moment, then rejected the transfer. Even
if a suitable procedure could be devised, even if women might find the
new arrangement attractive or learn to derive new forms of gratification
from male sneezing fits, I wasn't sure the Corps would approve.

One liquor-sodden evening fifteen years later, I was talking with
Mac Owens. He mentioned that he'd played football in college, had very
bad knees, and had to get a medical waiver to join the Corps. As the
doctor signed the form, he'd looked at Mac with an expression of total
disgust and said, "You know, there are 10,000 guys on this campus who'd
trade their nuts for your knees."

And there we had it -- a new medical speciality, Nuts, Noses &
Knees. We spent the rest of the evening working out the details, none of
which I remember, and certifying each other as practitioners.

But, to date, the AMA has never objected a bit.