Monday, April 25, 2011

A famous actor staying at the Four Seasons showed me a pimple on his upper eyelid. This was a sty, I explained, a small blocked gland. It wasn’t serious. There was no treatment except hot compresses, but even if he did nothing it would go away in a week or so.

He needed it to go quickly, he said. He had an interview the following day. A previous doctor had stuck a needle into an earlier sty, and he’d be grateful if I did the same. So I stuck a needle into it. He endured it stoically.

* * *

“You wouldn’t have any Oxycontin?” asked a guest. He was consulting me for a rash.

“I’m the doctor you call when you feel bad,” I said. “Providing Oxycontin… That’s a different sort of doctor. It’s a bad idea to mix them up.”

We parted on good terms. My refusal did not offend him; from his point of view there was no harm in making the request.

It’s wrong to divide celebrities into upstanding citizens with a few drug-addled exceptions. They are a cross-section. Many work hard at their careers but enjoy the occasional drug if it’s available, and they move in circles where this requires only a modest effort. Wrecking your life with drugs, as with alcohol, requires proclivity as well as availability.

* * *

Many actors and singers insist on a vitamin injection before a performance. That vitamin is almost always B12 because of (don’t jump to conclusions…) its color. Most drugs resemble water, but B12 is blood red. Since it’s commonly believed that injections trump pills, the same reasoning suggests that a brightly colored injection works even better.

My B12 experience impresses me with how closely celebrities resemble royalty. Arriving, I approach in stages – passing through rooms containing bodyguards, groupies, publicists, media, dressers. When I finally reach the room containing the celebrity and his intimates, he turns and drops his pants (women hold out an arm). I give the injection and depart. No one makes a move to pay, but I can expect a lesser person to come forward as I retrace my steps.

These requests don’t arrive often, so I wonder who owns the franchise on celebrity B12 shots in Los Angeles. It’s a gold mine. I also carry a vial of B complex – half a dozen B vitamins not including B12. It’s colorless, and I can’t remember my last request.

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