Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pink Hats X: The Beatles Connection - George Harrison, DO

"Oh, half of my heart's got a grip on the situation, half of my heart takes time..." Jessie sang, harmonizing with John Mayer, stopping in mid-line."Let's leave 93 to the Mass-holes, Sam," she said, swerving away from the interstate on-ramp to take Route 4 through eastern New Hampshire to Rochester, Sanford, and Hollis on her way home. It was only mid-afternoon, after all, and the countryside would be lovely. Actually, she disliked the term, "Mass-hole," coined no doubt by a disgruntled, albeit verbally-creative, crowd-weary Mainer at the end of another tourist season, but she disliked the Sunday afternoon traffic racing back to Boston even more.

The drive would take longer this way, but the sense of urgency she felt that morning was gone, and she wanted to think without having to dodge every Tom, Dick, and Be Wary on the road. Before she died, her mother used to say, affectionately, "You got my hair, my eyes, and your father's temperament," referring to a directness in stating her preferences a younger Jessie feared might have little appeal to the boys. In reality, there were usually so many queued up at their door, her father threatened to hand out sleeping bags and start charging rent. Something happened, however, during her second year of medical school, prompting her to begin noticing the line less and less.

She met Bob.

He was walking across the park-sized lawn in front of the Alfond building, with a backpack slung over one shoulder. Dressed in jeans, corduroy jacket, and chukka boots, he reminded her of George Harrison on the cover of Abbey Road -- with shorter hair and no beard. Without realizing it, she started humming her favorite album cut, Here Comes the Sun. It was his maiden lecture as a clinical professor of pediatrics, and despite serious efforts to the contrary, Jessie couldn't quite drop the Beatles connection. George Harrison, DO, would flash through her mind and she'd reach for her coffee mug to cover a smile.

She drained the last drop of her morning dose just as he announced a break and she left class quickly, aiming at the bathroom for relief and the coffee bar for a refill. GMTA she thought, when he stepped beside her, pardoning himself as he reached for the sugar. For some reason, she didn't know what, she placed her hand on his arm and said, "Try the Splenda. It tastes as good as sugar, but it's better for you. Fewer calories." They looked at each other for a count of one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand, before the clock started again and they finished doctoring their cups. She did see him switch to Splenda and make an appreciative face after trying his coffee.

That was it. Until the next day when she ran into him again, crossing the parking lot, this time in jeans, a tweed jacket, and Nike's. "Hi Splenda gal," he said, smiling. No one had ever called her "gal" before. She returned his greeting, asked what she was sure was an insignificant question, in response to which he proceeded to wax lyrical about the joys of pediatrics. All she remembered afterward was how she felt. It was the same way she felt the day before, with her hand on his arm.

Most of her dates, she reflected, had resulted in her feeling either like a girl or "mom." Maybe it's like that with all women, she didn't know. But for most of her part, she was a good time waiting for a place to happen or the one who warned the guy to keep his eyes on the road and off her anatomy. She had no desire to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful memory. Bob, however, was another thing, and the best she could say about it then was not much better than she could do now, but maybe that was all that could or needed to be said. From the instant she was aware of him, standing next to her, reaching for sugar, and perhaps even before, she felt like a woman.

Her roommate called it a father transference, as did a dog-eared Freud Made Simple Jessie found in the library. Her faculty adviser, however, a newly crowned PhD in evolutionary biology and biochemistry said "Transference-shmansference. Freud was a man, what could he possibly know about women? If you feel like a woman around the man you describe, it's because he doesn't need you to be anything else than who you are. It's called freedom, Jess. A rare and wonderful thing, in my experience. Hold onto it."

Now her father was saying virtually the same thing. Thank you both very much, she thought, I think I will -- hold onto him, that is.
(Creative Commons image of Abbey Road album cover by Affendaddy via Flickr; Half of My Heart words and music by John Mayer, copyright 2010)

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