As a surgery resident, dating can prove a difficult task. I finally broke down and went on one of those blind dates. Every time someone in the hospital approaches me with that look in her eyes, as if she is a fairy godmother about to deliver the best news with a shake of her wand — that she has the perfect friend for me — I am reminded of Vince Vaughn’s flawless monologue in Wedding Crashers, which he begins by saying, “I apologize to you if I don’t seem really eager to jump into a forced awkward intimate situation people like to call dating….”
Even with that Vaughn mantra constantly reeling through my head, I decided to go. It was seriously blind, which is kind of horrifying because I started drawing a picture of what she might be like based off the friend’s description, which, let’s be honest, is always a little…embellished. Ordinary eyes become “crazy exotic eyes,” and her personality becomes “so much like you,” and “she’s just gorgeous and hilarious!” Before I arrive, I’ve got visions of a Kate Beckinsale – Angelina Jolie fusion with the comedic timing of Kristen Wiig floating around in my head. So I picked her up, and she was very nice and attractive and a decent conversationalist — all the check boxes ticked. We went to dinner and had a nice time. Afterward, I asked if she wanted to go to a certain bar. She then asked if she needed an ID for that particular bar.
“Why? Did you forget yours?” I asked, stuffing the last French fry in- to my mouth.
“No, I’m not twenty – one yet,” she replied.
I feel kind of creepy right now. That’s what my mind said, as I felt like I had just arrived on set at one of those sketchy To Catch a Predator episodes.
So we went to Chuck E. Cheese’s, instead. I’m kidding. We went some- where else. But then we actually went out a few more times. Then on the fifth-ish date, we were sitting at a pizza place, void of anything else to talk about when I realized her eyes were fixated on something behind me. I glanced back and up to realize that I had been trumped by the E! channel’s apparently riveting discussion of the best and worst dressed girls of the Oscars. The ship had set sail into different waters, and I was too old to board.
People are always asking if residency is like Grey’s Anatomy . I can envision the romanticized pictures of Dr. McDreamy cuddling with Meredith Grey swooning through their minds as they envision the hospital and operating rooms as steam – filled saunas of sexual tension. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
There was a rotation during my intern year called Trauma Nights. I always thought this sounded as though it should be a trashy late night show on one of the lower-tier networks. It would take place in a southern city, like New Orleans, during the hottest part of the summer. Humidity would fill the halls and stairwells so that the entire cast of Trauma Nights would always be sweating and shedding their clothes. The title of the series would be read by a man with a deep raspy voice, as though he had either just recovered from a cold or had just smoked thirty cigarettes. He would let the second word, Nights…, drag on a bit. Something like this : “ Tonight on Trauma Nighhhhhhts, Dr. Blagg gets trapped in the stair- well by a little filly only to find that the man with a telephone pole through his chest bled out while the doctor got frisky.”
The scenes would be intense and dramatic, full of camera shots showing heavy breathing, sweat, and pure lust in the stairwell, bro- ken only by brief but breathtaking shots of scantily-clad nurses crying out for the doctor to hurry and arrive to save the dying trauma victim. I, of course being the main character, would stroll in through the double doors after the man had just passed away, my scrubs disheveled and my pagers hanging off my sweaty drawers. I’d see the disturbed nurse, tears and shock in her eyes as she stares at me. I would shuffle toward her as I pull a cigarette from my back pocket and stick it in my mouth. I’d lay a hand on her shoulder. “Well, you’d better get used to this when you’re working trauma nighhhhhhts…” I’d say in a deep and slow voice, as I then lit my cigarette and let out a series of perfectly shaped smoke circles. Suddenly the woman would transition from shock to pure animalistic lust. I’d have to wave my hand in the air and tell her I was tired. A man needs a break, so she’ll simply have to wait.
Cut! That isn’t how it happens. The reality is more like me rushing into the trauma bay with eyes half open, hair sticking up sideways, fumigating the room with bad breath as I fumble while putting in a chest tube, only to cover myself with the patient’s bodily fluids in the process as the nurses roll their eyes. There’s not much sexy about it, unless you’re into the body fluids sort of thing. The sweating and heavy breathing has nothing to do with lustful attraction and every- thing to do with trying to do actual medical work.
But there is the dream of Grey’s Anatomy and the steam – infested love of Trauma Nights . So maybe I’ll hold the cynicism and go ahead with the next blind encounter because when it comes down to it, what guy doesn’t need a good forced awkward intimate situation every now and then?