The Fairfield Wives

Dr. John Parkinson, a civic and religious leader in the perfectly suburban town of Fairfield, told women they needed pelvic exams. Long exams. Several times a week. For years. And they believed him.

During treatment, they would converse about spiritual matters, or about Parkinson's case with the Medical Board, which he was appealing. Sometimes, during treatment, Parkinson shared his weekly Sunday school lesson. The back treatment was very painful, and after about 10 visits, Susan says she told Parkinson she couldn't endure it anymore.

By this time, Parkinson's medical license had been revoked. In fact, he signed regu-lar declarations saying he was not treat-ing patients.

Yet Parkinson continued to see Kym, Susan, and a few other women illegally. They continued to come to him because they believed, as he told them, the entire affair had been an awful miscarriage of justice that would surely be straightened out in time. The women would park in back of his office and tap on the window; he would let them in through the back door, which he kept locked.

At some point, Susan Collins mentioned to Parkinson that she was worried about Kym, who seemed kind of down about not having a husband, a boyfriend, or a plan for the future. Susan asked Parkinson to encourage her daughter, and give Kym's esteem a boost.

A few months after the Medical Board decided to revoke his medical license, Parkinson wrote a poem that he gave to Kym at the end of one of her visits. Parkinson told Kym that he was moved by something outside of himself to write this:

With anticipatory gaze,
We looked upon forthcoming earthly haze.
Eternity loomed.
Celestial knowing of all that God bestowed;
Tiny stream of microcosm time, to
be immersed.
Promises hidden by forgetful veil,
Yet to be fulfilled in Earthly pale.
Thereby joyous reunion,
Then eternally forged

Members of the Mormon faith believe they experienced an existence before their life on Earth. They also believe that Earthly life is a temporary state, and that they go on to live with God in heaven. Couples married in the Mormon temple are believed to be sealed together for eternity (this life and the next). Kym thought the poem related to her future mate. Parkinson told her that she would find out the full significance of the poem in time.

After an examination a few weeks later, Parkinson presented Kym with a picture of a treasure chest, attached to balloons that floated through the air. He asked her to close her eyes and open her mouth. And then he carefully placed a piece of Lindt chocolate on her tongue. Two days later, after another exam, Parkinson gave Kym a small prescription envelope. Inside was a two-dimensional treasure chest, matching the one in the earlier picture. Inside the smaller chest was this poem:

By now you may know
the "we" is us;
And a treasure you are
to one most timorous

Kym stuck the poem in her pocket and left. It made her feel uncomfortable. At first she thought Dr. Parkinson had fallen in love with her. And then she thought that was crazy. She must've blown the whole thing out of proportion. Kym kept her appointment with Parkinson the following Monday. He continued the usual shot and massage routine. And while she lay on the table, feet in stirrups, he brought up the subject of the poem. She described it this way:

"We first started out talking about the significance of the poem and that the 'we' was referred to as he and I; and then he said that he had been attracted to me from the first time that I'd known him from when I was back in college. And he had said that he couldn't deny it at that time, he had a physical attraction to me."

Kym was stunned. Most of all, she wanted to get off that table. Parkinson, she says, asked her how she felt about him, and she told him she did not share his feelings. He said he was glad it was out in the open. Finally, the exam was over. They walked to the front and waited for her mother to pick her up. Parkinson told her again that he was glad it was out in the open. It was unbelievable to Kym.

When Susan arrived, Kym seemed anxious to leave, but her mother didn't think much about it. They left the doctor's office and drove across the street to shop at the JCPenney at the mall. But Kym began to get short with her mother. Susan had to stop at Raley's grocery store; Kym just wanted to go home. Susan studied the salad dressing selection. She turned to her daughter and asked her what kind of dressing she should buy.

Kym burst into tears. She mumbled something about getting out of there. Completely at a loss, Susan handed her keys to her daughter, who turned and left the store. Susan paid for the groceries and headed through the parking lot, anxious to find out what was going on.

They talked in the car. And Kym told her mother what had happened at Dr. Parkinson's office. The meaning of the incident would not fully sink into Susan Collins' brain for some time. But then, it was as if everything had been turned upside down, everything she believed was suddenly wrong. Their safe, comfortable, suburban world was shattered in such a way that they might never get over it.

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