Those of you who have been going to all of East End festivals this autumn might have noticed a particular white trailer with a red cross on it and a sign on the roof reading TESTICAL FESTIVAL MEDICAL WALK IN and wondered what it is. We wondered too, and so on Saturday afternoon we walked into the one parked in a handicapped zone between Agawam Park and the Cultural Center at SeptemberFest in Southampton to see what’s what.
Just inside there was a nurse who sits at a little table. You fill out a form and you get to see a doctor or a nurse if you wait your turn. It was a pretty busy business on that second day of SeptemberFest, the big festival celebrating Southampton’s history that weekend. Little boys with bruised shins. A mother with an earache. There were lots of people with bandages and mercurochrome running around. We met Dr. Luigi Testical, a middle-aged man in a white coat who told us about it.
“Business is booming,” he said after he sat us down across from him in his little office. “We just opened two weeks ago. You’d think somebody would have thought of this before.”
We asked him to explain.
“Testical Festival Medical Associates, as it is officially called,” he said, “was formed by myself and my two brothers on August 15 after we realized that there would be need for a mobile walk-in medical facility at all the East End festivals. All three of us are doctors. We hired a staff, and we opened for business the Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend, just after the Harvest East End festival in Cutchogue on September 3, which we didn’t get to, and just before the Sag HarborFest September 6. We have three units. A staff of nine. Each of us heads up one of the three vans. We take care of injuries at all the festivals.”
“Are you licensed?”
“Of course we are. You can’t practice medicine without a license. Just look up behind me. You’ll see all my licenses in the frames there.”
“What kind of name is Testical?”
“I agree it is an odd name. But we shortened it. Originally, in Naples, it was Testicaloni, which is a kind of Italian pasta. Stupid. Myself, Luigi, and my brothers, Gino and Pasquale, we all decided to shorten it.”
“How does this work?”
“Like I said, we take care of any medical injuries at the festivals. This morning, we had a clown in with a smack on his head, we had a stilt-walker who had sprained his ankle, we had a kid who had wrenched his shoulder throwing beanbags at a board with a hole in it on the sidewalk in front of 75 Main. That sort of thing.”
“And Southampton knows about this?”
“No. We’re on wheels. We come in, do what we have to do, then we’re gone. You can do what you want if you’re on wheels. So long as you obey the traffic laws.”
As we spoke, a man came in who had been stabbed in the rear by a pitchfork. He’d been on a farmer float at the parade that had gone over a bump. He sat down—no, actually he stood the whole time and filled out the form on the clipboard just outside this little office while we spoke. Then he was off to see a nurse. And then, at that moment, we heard what sounded like a cannonade of gunfire.
“Oh, there is another one,” Dr. Testical said. “The Huntington Militia is here today at the Historical Museum. They just simultaneously fired their muskets again. We should have half a dozen people in here in a minute with ringing in their ears.”
“And you have all the medical services here?”
“As much as we can fit into the trailer. We have oxygen, we have bandages and pints of blood. We have those paddles we use on people’s chests if they stop breathing.”
“What if it’s serious?”
“We call the ambulance, of course. Every town has an ambulance corps. We have phones.”
“And you’ve been open for business for a month?”
“Not even. We started at HarborFest in Sag Harbor, sort of shaking out the service. Kid hit by an errant harpoon. Kid with a sprained wrist rowing in the whaleboat race. We took the next week off to make sure we had everything right, then last weekend we had unit two at the Montauk Fishing Village for the Seafood Festival held under the big tent at the Montauk Marine Basin. And we had unit three at the Greenport Maritime Festival. There were some injuries at the Kings of the Coast Pirate Show in Greenport when two kids tried to fly on a rope. Then somebody fell in at the blessing of the waters.”
“Where were you?”
“That was a waste of time. Unit One, with me in charge, went to the Riverhead Garlic Festival on Sound Avenue. Garlic eating. Garlic ice cream. Nobody got sick though. Then, that night was supposed to be the Riverhead Jazz Festival. But it had been cancelled. Nobody called us.”
“Why would they?”
“Then there’s this weekend, even busier. I’m here in Southampton at SeptemberFest, unit two is at the Local Oyster Showcase—a sort of oysterfest at the Sparkling Pointe Vineyard in Southold, with the Alexander Clough Trio—and Unit Three is at the East Quogue Festival, a street fair in, uh, East Quogue. Then tonight, myself and unit two go over to the American Music Festival in Sag Harbor. Fourteen bands in 14 locations, I’m at one end of town and unit two is at the other. There’s bound to be people stubbing toes dancing in the grass, and people who’ve had too much to drink. I’m betting there’s lots of damage done at the Beau Soliel avec Michael Doycet Cajun concert at the Old Whalers’ Church.”
“What do you do with the people who have too much to drink?”
“Sober ’em up. We have black coffee. Lie them down on a gurney. Let them sleep it off. Does the trick.”
At that moment, a woman came in, leading a child by the arm who was holding his hand over his right ear. The mother began filling out the clipboard.
“Here we go. The musket cannonade from the line of patriots at the Southampton Historical exhibit.”
“What does this cost?”
“Everybody’s the same. This is America. Sixty dollars. All cash. Almost everybody pays us with twenties. It’s the era of the ATMs, you know. So everybody’s got twenties.”
“And that covers everything?”
“Yes. And we’re doing very well. Listen. Here’s what we’ve got up next weekend. We’ve got the San Gennaro Festival in Hampton Bays on Good Ground Road all day on October 5, kicking off with a parade at 10:30 in the morning, and we’ve got the Fiesta Latino at 17 Meeting House Lane in Southampton from 2 to 4 on October 5, with games food and music; we’ve got the Big Duck Car Festival, with old cars lined up on the lawn behind the Big Duck in Flanders, from 9 to 4; we’ve got the Pumpkin Fest at the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank; we’ve got the big Old Car Rally on the public streets of Bridgehampton on October 6— that’s gonna be a hoot. We’ve got, oh, I think that’s it, and then there is the week after that with the Hamptons International Film Festival, something like 95 movies in six locations in Southampton and East Hampton and Sag Harbor, and in the middle of that—the film festival goes from Thursday to Tuesday—we’ve got the Westhampton Beach Oyster Festival on October 12 at Village Marina, with pumpkin carving, face painting, a chowder contest, fried oysters, oysters on the half shell—somebody’s gonna get hurt with a knife, shucking oysters—and then, oh yeah, we’ve got the Montauk Fall Festival beginning in Montauk on Saturday and going all weekend. I don’t know how we’re gonna do that one.”
Two British redcoats now came in, carrying a man in a chef’s hat from a nearby restaurant on a stretcher who was holding his nose with a bloody handkerchief.
“We winged him. It won’t stop bleeding,” the British colonel carrying the front end of the stretcher said to the nurse. Dr. Testical rushed out of our interview, knocking over a chair on his way, saying, “Call an ambulance, call an ambulance. Head ’em to Stony Brook.”
And that ended the interview.