Growing up in the 1970’s and ’80’s meant being exposed to a lot of cutting edge science fiction. Star Trek was in syndicated reruns on television, superheroes were all over pop culture, and Star Wars set box office records and changed the way films were made and marketed.
The ’70’s were a treasure trove of visions of a strange tomorrow. Whether it was a starving, overpopulated New York in Soylent Green, mandatory euthanasia in Logan’s Run, or a settlement on the moon in Space: 1999.
Yesterday, I found myself starring in one of these weird, futuristic movies. I was the main character in a drama where scientific advances made the world look unfamiliar.
I had an MRI.
My shoulder hasn’t improved after last year’s physical therapy, and my doctor thought it was time to look inside for a possible rotator cuff tear.
I had an MRI on my knee years ago. It wasn’t that big a thing. Since the knee is on the lower quarter of my body, I was only put into this giant machine from 2001: A Space Odyssey up to my waist. It felt like getting an x-ray.
But the shoulder is near the top of the body. For them to scan it, I would have to be put in head-first all the way to my lower torso. I would be in the machine.
Most of those sci-fi films of the ’70’s had very sterile sets. Everything was white and clean. There were almost no sharp edges; almost everything was curved.
And it was all very well lit. We might be in a frightening dystopia run by evil, corporate overlords, but there was plenty of light.
The room in which my procedure took place looked exactly like these sets. Indeed, the machine itself was large and rounded, with no sharp edges. And it was white.
I was laid down on a table. My arm and shoulder were largely immobilized. (You have to lie perfectly still during an MRI — something I’m not very good at.)
Two techs slid me into the machine, which was a little weird — I’d have expected it to just glide on its own, or at the least a couple of robots would handle the task of getting me into the device.
The other thing about an MRI is that it is very loud. So they gave me headphones with my choice of music to block out the noise. I selected Broadway show tunes, because I was worried if I picked Rock ‘n’ Roll, country, or pop, the infectious beats would prevent my lying still.
So just before the two med-techs-who-should-have-been-robots pushed me in, the guy running the test clapped a pair of headphones on my and switched on the music.
The first song was “One Day More” from Les Miserables. It’s a fugue. So I was completely encased in a well-lit, white, curved machine while at least four different people were singing different lyrics and melodies that all fit together through the genius of music.
Then the science fiction sounds started. Beeps and zaps and clangs and buzzes. It was so loud I could barely hear the music.
I was reminded of Edward G. Robinson having his last meal in Soylent Green, where they let him eat real food and showed him a movie of how the Earth used to be with wide open spaces and natural beauty while they poisoned him.
I kept expecting lasers to drill into my mind like they did with Yvette Mimieux in The Black Hole.
Or perhaps, I would become a pod-person like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
If any of that happened, though, I didn’t notice it. The test went on for about half an hour. I listened to Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera, and Chicago, unable to make out the words over the din of the scanning.
Then they pulled me out and sent me home without any ceremony. The results are supposed to be available today.
But they’re lying. I know it. I’ve seen all those sci-fi movies.
After a full-body scan, cataloging my DNA, they’ll be creating an unstoppable army of Johns to conduct their secret war.
They’ll be coming for me soon.