Friday, December 3, 2010

Pink Hats, Part V: The Plot Thickens

"Why did that bother you, anyway? I thought you'd be flattered," Jessie said, between bites of sauteed scallops, referring to the christening of his namesakes, Dr. Bob Z's Twins. "How's your striped bass, by the way?"

"It caught me off guard, that's all, and it's delicious, thanks. What made you think of coming here?"

"I love Grace, especially the stained glass windows. The idea of transforming an old stone church into an upscale restaurant was genius. My sister's class -- she's 2010, by the way, DOs run in the family -- hosted a cocktail party downstairs last May and she brought me along as a 'guest alum.' It caught you off guard?"

He chuckled, "That's a good therapy phrase; I remember how much you enjoyed your psych rotation. For a while, I was afraid those of us in 'real medicine' might have lost you." Her fork suddenly halted in mid-air as if encountering an invisible barrier between plate and mouth and she gave him a semi-serious look he interpreted to mean, "Warning, warning, Will Robinson, aliens approaching."

"I'm kidding, I really am," he said, holding up both hands in mock surrender, "I respect what they do and got my child-adolescent exposure at Spring Harbor, though it still wasn't primarily a kid's hospital back then. It's that old joke about psychiatrists and 'doctors.' Anyhow, I wasn't expecting to be connected with the twins in such a...a...oh, hell, such an obviously 'paternal' manner. It almost sounds like I've been living two lives and it finally caught up with me."

"It's been done before, but you don't quite seem like the type," she said, then added mischievously, "Are you the type?"

"Not unless you consider being a doctor and married at the same time as bigamy. Some might call it that, though if they're right, I wasn't very good at it. The married part, that is. I hope I'm a good doctor."

It was the kind of playful banter that
had always characterized their conversations and left others in their vacinity exchanging winks and nods. Nothing ever came of it -- she was still in training and he was determined to avoid even the appearance of risking her budding reputation -- but the chemistry between them had obviously stood the test of time. Enough so that she called his office a week after he stopped by the NICU with coffee and asked him to dinner.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to dig up ancient history."

"You don't have to apologize. It's true. I was as married to medicine as I was to her. It's hard to know what you're getting into sometimes and switching to Peds after so many years eventually became too much. I guess it's why you see doctors married to other doctors. At least they know the life."

She sighed and said, "Yes, they do, and it helps -- or so I'm told, I wouldn't know by personal experience, not yet anyway."

"Which leads me to ask," he said, taking a breath and gathering his courage, "have you been, you know, perusing the field?"

She looked down at her plate and toyed with her remaining two scallops as though they were ships docking in a buttery harbor. "I've had my eye on someone, but you know how it goes, first school then residency, and now this fellowship. Dating feels like a luxury." She raised her eyes to his and said, "But I'm in no hurry. My father keeps reminding me it's not a mistake to wait for the right one."

The plot thickens, he thought, but said, "No, it's not, not at all."

(Creative Commons image of the interior of Grace Restaurant, Portland, ME by Somewhat Frank via Flickr)

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