crabby - doctor

Why is this doctor happy? Because she's done practicing for the day.

How come all the doctors I can find are still practicing?

You’d think that after a few years, they’d be able to stop just practicing and be really good at it.

Sincerely,

No Dummy

Dear Dummy,

Oh good. The Dear Crabby submissions have gone “Borscht Belt Amateur Hour.” Fabulous. I love jokes that are too stupid to even be stupid in a funny way.

I concede that I frequently beg for submissions, saying there’s no question or complaint too dumb. But you’re pushing those boundaries, my man. You’re really pushing them. And, no, obviously I don’t mean you’re dumb because you misunderstood the term “practicing” in this context; you clearly know what it means. I don’t even think you’re dumb for thinking up that joke. No, what makes you dumb is that you didn’t file it away in your brain’s “rejected jokes no one should have to hear” section as any normal person would have upon accidentally coming up with a joke that dumb. Instead, you put it in an email to your local paper’s advice columnist. I’ll always hate you for that.

But, because the advice “Be smarter, dummy” isn’t going to get this column to its requisite length, I’m going to go ahead and answer your question. “Practice” in this context doesn’t mean “rehearse” or “work at in hopes of improving”; it means “perform.” This is common usage for doctors and lawyers and many other professions. Think of it in terms of the phrases “in theory” and “in practice.” The latter doesn’t mean “in a dry run”; it means “in action” as opposed to “in thought. You already know this, of course, because everybody already knows this.

And that’s that.

But before I sign off, I wanted to mention that I read your submission to my wife, who is a practicing physician. She pointed out that, even if we assumed your question was in earnest and took it at face value — AND even if “practice” only ever meant “working to get better” — it would still have been a dumb submission. Medical knowledge isn’t static. There are new drugs, new techniques and new best practices (there’s that word again) developed all the time. So doctors DO have to keep working to get better. They never get to a place where they can “stop just practicing and be really good at it,” because they wouldn’t be “really good at it” for long. They’d be left behind. That’s not to mention things like communication with patients, work-life balance and all of the other nonmedical stuff that goes into being a good doctor. That stuff requires constant work, too.

So, in summary, your joke is bad, and you’re a bad person for sending it to me. But thanks, I guess, because I did need one for this week.

Hope that helps.

Sincerely,

Crabby

Reach Pat Muir at pmuir@yakimaherald.com.