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Chapter 1

Life didn’t begin well for Zelman Feldman.

Thirty-three hours after entering the birth canal, he was still there. This was despite the morbidly obese obstetrician’s relentless pulling, his mother’s persistent pushing, and his father’s repetitious pleas to come out.  Zelman was stuck.

As the rotund obstetrician pulled, sweat dripped from each of his chins.  Alarmed by the volume of perspiration, the attending nurse, who doubled as the doctor’s secret lover,  pulled him aside and pleaded with him to slow the pace of his efforts.  She feared he might not be able to perform at their tryst scheduled for later that night if he became dehydrated.

In hour thirty-five of the ordeal, the distraught nurse/secret lover whispered in the obstetrician’s ear,  “What do you think’s preventing the extraction, dear?”

“I’m not sure, love,” the obstetrician wheezed.  “It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma.”

“Actually, dear, the phrase is ‘It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma inside a riddle,’” the nurse/secret lover corrected.

“This isn’t a good time to quibble, love,” the physician suggested.  “We can talk about it later tonight during coitus … if I survive.”

In hour thirty-nine, Zelman’s mother asked the obstetrician between moans, “Where … did you … go to … medical … school?”

Before the obstetrician had an opportunity to reply, Zelman’s father asked, “What was your class ranking and are you board certified?”

“Concentrate on pushing,” the frustrated doctor snapped.  “No questions about my qualifications or anything else.  I must concentrate!  If I don’t concentrate, this nightmare for me will never end.”

In hour forty-one, the obstetrician became angst-ridden when the expectant mother’s moans morphed into primal screams. Mercurial even in the best of circumstances, he had no tolerance for primal screams.  Glaring maniacally at her, he shouted, “Tone it down or leave!”  Reminded by his secret lover that it would be ill-advised from a medical malpractice perspective for the mother to leave, the obstetrician grudgingly rescinded the ultimatum.

Ironically, the obese physician left.  A compulsive smoker when under pressure, he shambled outside for a cigarette break.  Several cigarettes later, he returned to give extraction another try.

When an additional three hours accomplished nothing except more sweating, the obstetrician began muttering obscenities. “I think you’re falling apart, dear,” his secret lover told him before suggesting that he summon colleagues for assistance.   On the verge of a panic attack, he relented and authorized a STAT call.

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