Dr. Batra (middle)
A plastic surgeon named Dr. Batra had a Christmas party for his employees at a house in Cardiff. The place was nice, and I said to my girlfriend, “We’ll get to see what kind of house a plastic surgeon can afford.” Turned out it was someone else’s home.
Dr. Batra, noticing that I wasn’t an employee or former patient, came over and introduced himself. I told him who I was and then asked him about what he did.
Aside from raking in big bucks from people who want to change their looks, he told me about an organization he founded called D.O.C.S., which stands for “Doctors Offering Charity Services.”
He told me about going to Mexico to work on cleft lips and palates. He was detained at the border once for six hours while trying to cross in his scrubs.
There was a lot of food on the counter. I assumed it was Indian food and stayed away from it. Then the doctor’s sister said, “It’s all Italian food that was catered. We wanted Indian, but everyone gets tired of us always having Indian food.”
Since she’s a writer, among other things, she told me about something she was planning that needed actor Keifer Sutherland’s help. She told me that because he was recently jailed, she was going to write him a letter every day for 24 straight days — play on his show 24.
I saw a news story a few days later that reported how bored he was in jail and that he hadn’t had any visitors, just books to read.
I grabbed a few meatballs, and the bartender working the party hooked me up with a pomegranate martini.
As I sipped my drink, I asked Dr. Batra to tell me more about D.O.C.S. He said they help migrant workers, Native Americans, and victims of domestic violence.
I think he forced himself to smile when I said, “It’s nice that you do charitable stuff like that and take a break from all those breasts you slave over daily.”
He pointed toward one of his employees and said, “I did her breasts.” She smiled and posed. I said, “They, uh, look lovely.” As we spoke, I wondered if women who have breast implants mind if you stare at them as you’re talking. You’d think that they’d want to know that the money they spent didn’t go unnoticed. Just the same, I maintained eye contact.
I overheard Dr. Batra talking about a VA hospital not taking care of its patients: “In a way, I’m like Robin Hood. I get paid from all these rich people having face lifts, and I go overseas to help poor people...or military personnel who aren’t taken care of.”
He told me that he worked on the grandson of author Tony Hillerman. He said that Tony gave him signed copies of one of his novels. I said, “I would’ve told him nothing says thanks like having a character in a book named after you.”
The caterers announced that dinner was served. I thought the food on the kitchen counter was dinner. Apparently, those dishes were appetizers, as a buffet was set up in the living room.
I asked Dr. Batra about rapper Kanye West’s mother, who recently died during surgery. He suggested that many people are practicing who aren’t properly licensed. He then told me that he was offered the job working on the show The Swan five years ago. He didn’t like the premise, how there’d be people who felt like ugly ducklings.
I sat next to a couple and talked movies with them. The guy told me his all-time favorite movie was Boondock Saints. I told him I met the San Diegan who produced it and thought the movie was overrated. As we got into a debate over that, the doctor called me over to meet one of his colleagues.
Dr. Batra said, “This is the second-hardest-working surgeon in San Diego.”
In an attempt at humor, I said as we shook hands, “I have a third nipple.” He responded, “What do you want me to do, squeeze it?”
Later, I was talking to an older couple who had interesting accents. I thought they were from Russia. She was an attractive mortgage broker and I can’t remember what Boris did, though I recall he competed in jujitsu tournaments. I asked him if he had any stories about the doctor, and he rolled up his sleeve and showed me a huge scar. He said Dr. Batra was in Temecula but rushed back after a big piece of glass got lodged in his arm. They almost had to amputate. After six hours of surgery, Dr. Batra saved Boris’s limb.
Dr. Batra came over and finished the story, saying “Blue Cross didn’t want to pay the bill. They wanted proof that the surgery I did was necessary. I went on the national news talking about what they were doing, and the day before one of the programs was going to air, they called to say they reversed their decision.”
I had another event to go to that night, and after finishing my dinner, I was going to sneak out. Then Dr. Batra started talking about each of his employees. I thought it would be rude to walk out in the middle of it.
Some of the stories were touching; others were funny. One breast implant was punctured three weeks into his practice. Saline shot into the air. They didn’t have an extra implant, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to hire the doctor after that. He laughed and said, regarding that doctor, “You think he’s your ally. But he talks shit about you, too.” Everyone laughed.
Dr. Batra’s parents sat on the couch and made conversation with people. His mom was dressed in traditional Indian garb. I had a brief conversation with them and was glad that they didn’t have thick accents. I feel bad when someone has an accent and I have trouble understanding them.
His parents are from Cleveland, and they have one child who just passed the bar exam, another who’s a successful writer, and Dr. Batra, who has a thriving surgical practice in Del Mar.
I then thought about my mom because she’s also from Cleveland. She has a son who spent way too much time in bars and another who writes about people getting drunk at parties.
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 X421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.