Because it’s typically non-invasive and health building, I’ve always preferred an alternative approach to medicine. That’s why I recently sought a Chinese herbalist whom I’ll …
Because it’s typically non-invasive and health building, I’ve always preferred an alternative approach to medicine. That’s why I recently sought a Chinese herbalist whom I’ll call Dr. X. Now semi-retired, his resume is impressive; Harvard PhD, doctor of Chinese Medicine, former Chief Scientist at several prominent NYC hospitals. Plus, the testimonials are out of this world with photos and the full names of the people he treated including other doctors. A quick internet search showed no negative reviews.
I first called the number on Dr. X’s website on a snowy Saturday morning thinking at best I’d get a receptionist. However, a man with a distinct Chinese accent answered the phone.
“Is this Dr. X?” I asked.
“Ya,” he said adding in broken English, “I outside shov-ing snow. I caw you back.”
Upon his return call, we agreed to meet at a first class hotel in Astoria, Queens on the first day of the recent nor’easter. The night before I emailed Dr. X to ask if we could reschedule for sometime after the snowstorm and got this written response: “If you want to conquer your health, you should have the courage to face the weather!” Game on, dude! My husband, Andre, checked the weather report and even tracked the radar and saw that it wasn’t supposed to snow in Queens. If we could make it out of Upstate, NY, we would beat the weather, but you know how that goes. Weather reports are so often wrong.
Just before hitting the road in our dilapidated 2007 Subaru, the phone rang. I hoped it was Dr. X reconsidering the elements. But no! He wanted to change the locale of our meeting. The new locale: a closed and boarded up Walgreens. Oh, and bring cash! Now, if a friend of mine hadn’t also highly recommended this guy, at this point I would have stayed home.
For good reason, hardly anyone was on the road that day. The trip was a three hour haul in swirling snowfall and on slushy roads. Winding around the streets of Astoria, we landed in what appeared to be a very seedy neighborhood. We parked in front of a large stone building that was entirely graffiti-ed and, although it was the correct address, lacked the word, Walgreens. As instructed, we phoned Dr. X.
Andre waited in the car while I dashed across the street to a shop just to get warm. The storm, like a persistent moon, had followed us to Queens and was now raging in Astoria. From the store window, I watched an old gray-haired man come shuffling around the corner. That can’t be him I said to myself. The man walked straight past our car. Definitely not him. Please make it not him.
Later Andre told me that he saw the same man and thought the same thing and then watched as the man pulled out a cell phone right in front of our car. Mind you, we did give a full descript of our golden-tinged Subaru.
“Can’t find your car,” said Dr. X.
“You’re standing right in front of it,” replied Andre from behind the driver’s wheel.
By that time, I had crossed the street anxious to finally meet the infamous Dr. X. As I introduced myself, I tried to catch his eye, but he didn’t look at me. Instead, he just nodded and grunted. It was awkward. Thankfully, Andre jumped out of the car and rescued the situation just in time to hear Dr. X say, “Come. We take walk. Just short walk. Few blocks.” And so, like two country bumpkins, we followed this peculiar old man into the wind propelled snow without a clue as to where he was taking us.
…to be continued next week
RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at email@example.com.
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