WHEN I SAW Glover the other day, he looked sick.

"Why don't you go to your doctor?" I asked him.

"I did go. He wants me to see a specialist."

"He's delivering a paper in Sydney, Australia, on his specialty. He won't be back until July."

"All right, then go to another specialist."

"I called another specialist and his secretary said he can't see me until September. I told her I might be dead by then. So she said she'd move me up to August."

"This is May -- that seems like a long time to wait. Did you go back to your regular doctor?"

"Yeah. He called around and he finally found a guy who would see me right away."

"That's great," I said. "Why don't you go to see him?"

"Because I'm not sure how good a specialist he is."

"Why? Did you check him out?"

"No. But if he's such a hot doctor, how come he isn't delivering a paper in Vienna instead of seeing patients?"

"Maybe he is in between lectures," I suggested.

"All right. But if he knows his stuff, why doesn't he have a two-month waiting list like everybody else?"

"That's a good question. He can't be a great medical man if he's willing to see you right away. Maybe he's just starting out in practice."

"I thought the same thing. So that means if I go see him, I'm going to have to get a second opinion."

"Wasn't your family doctor suspicious when the specialist said you could come over so soon?"

"It did make him nervous. He said he had never known a specialist who would see a patient right away. But he also said I didn't have any choice. It was either go to him or NOT see the best man in the field because he was in Australia."

"Maybe the guy who will see you had a cancellation?" I said, trying to cheer him up. "I once knew of a case where a top orthopedic man saw a fried of mine just four weeks after he called."

"What did the orthopedist tell him?"

"That there was nothing wrong with him. Whatever the problem was had cleared up."

"So you think if I wait for the specialist to come back from Sydney, I'll get better, too?"

"I'm not a doctor. But I've heard of many cases where a patient has had to wait so long to see the top man in the field that he's cured himself."

"But don't you look like a fool if you wait all that time and, when you finally see the specialist, he can't find anything wrong?"

"Specialists don't care. They're so busy, it saves their spending a lot of time with you."

"I still wonder if I should cancel the appointment with the specialist who will see me and try to get one with the one who can't."

"Well, the one who can't is probably the better man, and you'd be more confident with him. At the same time, if you kept your appointment with the doctor who will see you, you could be pleasantly surprised. He might be good at what he does, but doesn't like to deliver papers at medical meetings. You know, there are some doctors who are afraid to fly."

"why can't the top specialists in their fields just practice medicine?" Glover asked. "Why do they have to keep going to Nairobi and Cairo and Stockholm all the time to read papers?"

"Because if they just took care of patients, no one would know they were the top men in their field. Look, I think you're hurting yourself wrestling with the problem. My suggestion is to go to the specialist who told you to come over right away. But before you let him examine you, ask him how many conventions he's been to this year. If he replies, 'None,' walk out of his office without taking your clothes off."