Friday, January 14, 2011

Pink Hats 23: Conspiracy Theory

Holidays at the Livingstone House were a crowded, cacophonous intermingling of three generations, at least one dog, and abundant good food. This year, the din was periodically disrupted by squeals coming from the twins, "on loan" from their foster parents, who already had a house filled with their own children and grandchildren. Together, it made for the happiest Thanksgiving Bob could remember in a long, long time.

Following dinner, he drew Jessie's younger sister, Jennifer, aside on the pretext of discussing her family medicine residency at Central Maine Medical Center. "Jen, I need your help," he said, whispering and glancing at Jessie to make sure she couldn't overhear, "I'd like order an engagement ring for your sister, but I have no idea what size. Do you know what she wears?"

Jen, nearly a carbon-copy of her sister with the exception of auburn hair instead of Jessie's blond, said, "Of course, the same as me. We've always exchanged clothes and jewelry. I wear a six -- this is so much fun! When are you going to ask her?"

"Soon. There's a jeweler in Colorado -- I visited his store last year while attending a conference -- who has a design with filigreed mountains along the sides of the ring that I'd like to get for her. Let me show you." He took out his iphone, opened Safari, and turned to the page he'd marked. "What do you think? Too modern? Not traditional enough?"

"Bob, it's perfect! Jessie will be thrilled -- she's loved Colorado ever since she spent a summer out there working at a camp near Estes Park while she was in high school. You've got to get this for her!"

"She mentioned that but I never made the connection. I called this past week and they have sixes and sevens in stock -- so, anyway, we can count on you for family medicine, right?" He changed the subject as Jessie approached.

"What's the confab, you two? You look like you're acting out a scene from Conspiracy Theory," she said, taking a seat next to Bob and pulling him close.

"Shh. We're plotting to take over the medical school," he replied, with a wicked gleam, "by loading the clinical faculty with friends and family. I'm sure Chuck would love to get his hands on psychiatry, so that makes four of us and Halley makes five." She looked at him quizzically. "Someone has to run the place, can you think of anyone better?"

She covered her mouth, laughing, and shook her head as Jen looked from one to the other, asking, "Who's Chuck?"

"Oh, he was a student of mine during his first rotation. We're becoming friends over time. He's two years behind you -- "

"-- and he's single, good looking, and," glancing at Bob for his confirmation, "distinguished," said Jessie.

"Mm, 'distinguished.' By that do you mean 'older'?"

"Older than some, younger than others," Jessie said, with a playful but tantalizing tone. She's circling the bait, she thought.

"Older like, um, Bob?" Jen persisted, giving him a deliberate and appreciative appraisal. Now she's smelling it.

"Close but not quite," he said. "Honestly, I never asked his age, if you can believe it. I guess it's something guys don't think about. I'd say he's a few years younger than me." Then he added, "He did ask me if, uh, Jessie had a sister..." He ducked his head sheepishly and blushed.

"I see," she said, straightening in her chair and squaring her shoulders as though she was an elementary school teacher preparing to scold a misbehaving student. "Well. If he's anything like you, it sounds like you'd better tell him she does and she's interested." Aha! I've got you now!

"I don't know how much he and I are alike, but we are becoming friends, like I said, and I already did, the first part, that is."

"Then will somebody please tell him the second part while he's still interested!" she said, exaggerating for effect.

"Why, certainly," said Jessie, assuming a prim and proper demeanor, also for effect, "I'll get right on it. Now, what were you two really talking about?"

This time Jen came to the rescue. "Christmas presents, if you must know, now drop it before Santa puts you on the Naughty List!"

(Creative Commons image by alvy via Flickr)

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