"The Ethicist" is Randy Cohen's long-running advice column in the New York Times. Each week, Gabriel Delahaye's "The Unethicist" will answer the same questions as "The Ethicist," with obvious differences.
In this week's installment, Gabe offers some valuable advice to any doctors stranded on mysterious paranormal tropical islands, and a young cabaret performer reminds everyone that she doesn't have time for this shit.
Years ago when I confirmed a new patient's pregnancy, she burst into tears. Her husband had had a vasectomy; her pregnancy was a result of a brief affair; she would not consider abortion. She begged me to keep her secret for the sake of her children and marriage. When unexpectedly confronted by her husband, I lied, saying his vasectomy must have failed. The marriage survived, and I believe my lie was justified. Was it? — Name Withheld
Oh, no reason for the secrecy, "Name Withheld." I think we all know who you are.
When I arrived to baby-sit for a loving family with children I adore, the mother told me her daughter was coming down with a cold. Shouldn't she have warned me in advance? I'm a student and don't have time to get sick. I stayed, knowing this working mom needed the help, but my dad says I should have left. Is he right? — Eve Rybnick, West Orange, N..J.
Obviously a theater major with a penchant for cabaret doesn't have time to get sick, Eve. Doctors, soldiers, teachers, sure. They can lay around all day wiping their noses with their sleeves and watching re-runs of the Gilmore Girls (2pm on the WB), but you have important songs about Weimar Germany to memorize while doing acrobatic cane and chair dances. How are you supposed to remind people of the beauty of an outdated style of performance that is currently enjoyed exclusively by overweight lesbians who don't quite have the alt-culture chops for a half-ironic boom boom burlesque show when you're sneezing?!
Next time, you should wait until the mother leaves and then take the kid out to a free clinic. Won't it be a fun reversal when the mother comes home from her busy day at the office and you get to smile and say, "Oh, I meant to tell you, your daughter has Chlamydia"? That will be hilarious.
Good luck with the cabaret. Just kidding.
Previously: iBarking Up the Wrong e-Tree