Opinion | Biff America: Smile and say ‘cheese’

Jeffrey "Biff" Bergeron, Summit Daily News
Jeffrey “Biff” Bergeron/Summit Daily News

“You will be unfit to drive. We can’t discharge you until someone is here to pick you up. Have you arranged for a ride home?”

“Yes,” I answered. “My wife is running errands now, but she’ll return when I’m done. I’ll text her now. What time should she get here?”

“Well, your procedure is scheduled for 4 p.m., but you are the last patient of the day and occasionally the doctor gets a little behind.”

Though I was lightheaded and dehydrated because I had not eaten in almost 48 hours and my stomach was as empty as Donald Trump’s spray tan bottle, I thought my comeback was clever. “You’d think getting a little behind would be a faster job for him.”

The nurse preparing me for my colonoscopy did not smile, but I’m sure she was laughing hysterically on the inside.

I can’t remember if this was my second or third colonoscopy. I remember getting one about 10 years ago and I have a faint recollection of one way before that in Las Vegas that seemed a little off the books and came with a free buffet ticket.

But just like every medical undertaking, it seems technology has made great strides during the last decade. First of all, the anesthesia is amazing. I was in the operating room telling the doctor and nurses all about myself while regaling them with my witty observations, and the next thing I know, I’m waking up and they tell me it is done. I think they might have put me out a little early just to shut me up. 

When the surgeon came in, before they wheeled me in to the operating room, he asked if I had any questions about the process. Fearing that, like lawyers, doctors bill by the hour, I said only to be gentle. 

What on paper seems pretty scary is actually no big deal. Yes, they are inserting a hose with a camera, scissors, vacuum and flashlight, but it wasn’t like the old days when they had to keep changing the camera’s flash bulbs. Moreover, they provide you with photos, included in the price of admission. I know what next year’s Christmas cards will look like.

Even with the recent advancement, I will say the vacuum, scissors and flashlight gave me some pause, but not so the camera. I am very comfortable on camera. For years I worked in front of one. Admittedly, I relied heavily on makeup to cause me to look less like Keith Richards later on in my career. Though I was quite certain that makeup would not be needed this time, my vanity caused me to apply just a little lipstick and blush, which I’m sure was noticed and appreciated. But in retrospect I should have applied it to my face.

Just before I went under, I remembered a piece of advice an old pro gave me, about being on camera early during my TV tenure: “You have to appear so self-assured that it feels like you are making love to the camera.”

Seems this time it would be the other way around.

I’m happy to report that all went well and I received a clean bill of health. In fact, halfway through the process I swear I heard the doctor exclaim “wow!”

A colonoscopy is vital and necessary maintenance of a preventive health practice that we all need to suffer through. But it is difficult to not joke about before and after the fact with friends.

Though I’m fairly certain there is no discernible difference between the two genders in regards to the location and process of the procedure, I will go out on a limb by saying guys are more inclined to share the insight and embarrassment and laugh about it. 

When I’m in a pack of my male friends, our maturity reverts to junior high school level. Questions about smiling for the camera, a missing wristwatch and asking if checking out a semicolon is half price are discussed with glee. 

Now granted, this is serious business and just one of many indignities and inconveniences that are necessary for a better chance at longevity. Much like oral hygiene, but different.  

Yesterday was a meeting of the dull man’s club, which is a pack of old dudes who get together monthly for coffee. While I recounted in great detail my prep, procedure and proclamation of my pristine plumbing, Dennis asked for photographic verification. Luckily, I remember to bring some. He looked them over and said, “Man, they really captured your good side.” I wish I had thought of that.

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