"You are Muslim?" he said.
"Me? No," I replied. Why he would think that? Then I understood. "O, you are Muslim," I said, wondering where this was going.
He smiled broadly and nodded. He said something about his baby that I didn't understand. Seeing my quizzical expression, he tried again. He held up his index finger and moved his other index finger around it in circles. "My baby," he said, "You will cut?"
I got it, having had these kinds of conversations before. Dad wanted to make sure one thing was done: he wanted his baby circumsized. It's pretty important to some people, so important that they're worrying about circumcision while their baby is still on a ventilator or something. It's so important that although they won't try to ask about anything else in their broken English, they will try anyway they can to communicate their desire that their kid get whacked (my personal term for the event.)
I assured him that yes, we could have his baby circumsized before he went home. "Tomorrow?" he asked hopefully. I tried to tell him that we should really get his baby off of CPAP before circumsizing him, but I'm not sure he understood. He might have gone home that night expecting his kid to weigh just a little bit less the next day.
I know that some people get pretty excited about circumcision. I guess there are some legitimate arguments on both sides of the issue, but as long as they use anesthesia, I can't get too worked up about the whole thing. It's rare that parents even ask me my opinion about circumcision; the decision is usually made well before birth. I don't like doing the procedure myself, personally, so I'm glad the obstetricians do them in our area. And in cases like the one above, I'm glad they get the "informed" consent, too.