When I saw these pictures in the paper yesterday my heart lept into my throat and my nostrils filled with the terrible smell of ether. This is the building where I had my tonsils removed. It's also the sight of one of my most powerful introductions to deceit. That stairway is the one I innocently climbed as a four-year-old, holding the hand of a black-habited nun. My mother encouraged me from the foot of the stairs, promising balloons and ice cream.
My next memory is of sitting on an operating table, the aforementioned balloon being placed in my hand. I remember its rubbery feel and smell. Someone told me to blow it up. After that, I remember only the overpowering smell of ether, the pressure of plastic on my face, and people wrestling me to a prone position.
The promised ice cream appeared later, as I lay in a crib-like bed. My throat was too sore to eat it. The bitterness I felt has never fully dissipated.