I've been trying to recall how this all began, one evening after class in the graduate student office a couple of weeks ago, and I think it goes something like this.
Lana walks into office to see M scratching his forearm and watching his hand intently.
M: Look! Watch my finger.
Lana sees M's middle finger moving independently of his others.
Lana: Ummm...can't you do that without scratching your arm?
M: Well, yes, but it's involuntary. I'm hitting a tendon or something. You know, like what the doctor does to your knee in a physical?
Lana: I know what you mean, but I have to admit, it's never happened to me before. I mean, everyone says that your leg is supposed to kick out reflexively, but I've never felt that knee-jerk reaction before. I just kicked because it was expected of me. It happens for you?!
M: Uhh, yeah!
Lana: Wow, and I'd always thought that it was a myth or something.
A walks into the office.
Lana: Hi, A. Hey, you know when a doctor taps your knee. Does your leg kick automatically?
Lana: Wow, it's beginning to look like everyone has experienced this but me!
A: Wait, you've never had that done before?
Lana: Well, I have, but I just kicked because it was what was supposed to happen. It wasn't involuntary or anything.
A: You've been faking it all this time?!!!
Lana: Geez, now you're beginning to worry me. I always thought it was a myth. I'd never really believed...but maybe there's something wrong with me.
M: Yeah, like your legs have been broken all these years, and you just didn't know it.
A: I can't believe you've been faking it!
Lana: Hmm...one of my friends is a doctor. Maybe I'll ask him to try.
So, after a long day, I go home for a long night of grading. During a break, I told W about that conversation, and asked her if she'd experienced that knee-jerk reaction because, well, I still wasn't convinced that it was real.
W decided that it was time something was done to change me from a faker into a believer. I hopped up to sit on the kitchen counter while she selected a wooden spoon from the utensil jar. (She wanted to try hitting me lightly with a hammer, but I convinced her to use the spoon.) Amid lots of giggling, she felt around my knee and gave it a few tentative taps. I was very doubtful that anything would happen, considering all the (trained) doctors who had done this before. But W was pretty persistent. Then, she gives a gentle tap with the wooden spoon on one spot and, before I even knew what was happening, my leg had extended!
We laughed so hard we were in tears. Success, and by an amateur! And, I swear, I wasn't faking it that time. Thanks, W!