The Movie: The Secret Lives of Dentists, 2002 (Craig Lucas, screenplay, from a novel by Jane Smiley; Alan Rudolph, dir.)
Who says it: Kevin Carroll as Dr. Danny, a pediatrician
The context: Dr. Danny tells David Hurst (Campbell Scott) that he believes the stomach pains of Hurst’s daughter Stephanie (Lydia Jordan) have an emotional basis.
How to use it: When self-examining for hypochondria.
I think I am getting a cold. It might just be allergies, but I also feel as if I'm dragging around a 50-pound sack of flour. My Inner Critic scolds me for laziness, and suggests that I might be faking it to shirk the pile of work in front of me. I beg to point out to the Inner Critic that I have been traveling for most of the past six weeks, and have an excuse to feel tired.
Plus, I went for that nature walk in the rain yesterday, not that I believe there's any connection between getting wet and catching a cold. (Who came up with that idea?) It was really great, very low-key, as is Mr. Heinrich himself -- a little shy in front of a crowd, tuned to things the rest of us don't hear very well.
I saw something along the path that looked like a very fat slug, but proved on closer inspection to be a dead shrew. Mr. Heinrich picked it up and turned it over, showing us how shrews differ from moles (moles, which dig, have much larger front paws). Shrews are the only mammals with a poisonous bite, and have glands that give off a bad smell to predators. A predator had probably gotten this one, Mr. Heinrich said, and then dropped it on the path because it tasted so bad. Tough luck for the shrew, which was just as dead in any case.
When I got home, I looked up shrews in the encyclopedia and learned that they can also die just from the shock of a rough touch or a loud noise. That's taking psychosomatic distress to a whole new level.