Minding my own business, cheerily studying Carol Rivers’ Concise Review for the Written Boards in Emergency Medicine, Volume II, I overhear the 3 women next to me discussing syphilis.

“Well how do you contract syphilis?” one woman asked.

“Do you think he got it from his father?” another countered.

They were loudly discussing a play entitled “Ghost” and I couldn’t NOT hear them. I tolerated it for awhile, but when I heard them wondering about how to contract sexually transmitted diseases, I felt the innner educator in me creeping out. THey were well out of their literary comfort zone, trying to tie in the play’s plot with the transmission and natural course of untreated syphilis. Doc Shazam to the rescue.

“Do you guys mind if I interrupt?” I asked.

I proceeded to tell them about the first two stages of the disease, including a sore in the gen-itals, followed six weeks later by a diffuse rash including the palms and the soles. They thanked me genuinly, then continued disucussing the play in light of their new knowledge.

About five minutes later, something else caught my ear.

“Well why do you think he was acting the way he did?” “He was crazy, wasn’t he?” “It wasn’t until the end of the play, though when he was older…”

“That’s the third stage of the disease, it’s called neuro-syphilis,” I interjected. “It makes you crazy.

They smiled. And continued their discussion.

I returned to my studies.