Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We've met

The medical student who I'm working with, Peter, has anxiety issues. I have anxiety issues, he said as he stood there sweating all over himself, fidgeting out of his dress clothes. He was coming apart right in front of me, like Humpy Dumpy (sans the great fall); and we hadn't even done anything yet.

On the first day, we had to page our resident and ask him where we could meet him. It's an anesthesia resident, Peter said.

Yeah...I know.

You knew that?


Well, why didn't you tell me?

I don't know. I guess I figured it didn't make a damn bit of difference.

Oh. Well. Yeah, I guess not.

Although I appeared much more put together than Peter--no sweating, shirt still tucked in, jacket buttoned--I was actually more nervous about meeting the resident than he was.

I was nervous because when they handed me his name and pager number that morning, I realized that we would not be meeting for the first time.

The first time was about six months ago. I was sitting in a coffee shop studying, and he asked if he could share the table. It was near an outlet, and he needed to plug in his laptop.

Neither of us got any studying done in the next two hours. We drank coffee, and talked, and flirted, and flirted, and flirted. At some point, I felt peering eyes and looked around to find four other tables just sitting, sipping their coffee and staring at us. Yeah, it was that good.

A bit about flirting... You know those women who are so gorgeous that people are almost afraid to approach them? I am not one of them. But, I have more confidence in my step than most of those women do. Men are intrigued by this confidence in a woman who is not quite beautiful enough to be entitled to it. It catches them off guard and slays them a bit. I talked to a man recently who said, I am a little infatuated with you, with the way you seem so comfortable in your skin.

I'm comfortable in my skin, and I'm good with my eyes--I'm great at flirting.

Flirting is most powerful when you can hold the other person's gaze. When you can look into his eyes, slowly smile a little, and then just hold the moment. No nervous laughter, no batting your lashes, no fidgeting in the silence.

It is like dancing, in that you have to have a partner who can do the same--someone who does not look down at your chest, or at his own shoes. And, it is also a bit like a game of sexual tension chicken--it is not well played with wimps.

The anesthesia resident was a great partner and a fine player. He held my gaze. We took turns asking about each other's lives, the questions getting more and more personal and our answers more and more suggestive.

And then, she called. He spoke to her in French, a language I don't understand. I could tell from the annoyed, defeated look on his face, though. He hung up the phone, and I said, So, how's your wife?

He said, How did you know?

I just laughed and said, This isn't going to go any farther.

And it didn't. We talked a while longer, and I left.

Two weeks ago, I saw him again. He said, You never called.

I said, I figured you were still married.

He said, Oh, that.

I said, Yeah, that.

I didn't intend to spend long talking to him this time. But, before I knew it, there we were again--flirting and somehow commanding the attention of the people at the surrounding tables. As I got up to leave, he again said, Hey, why don't you give me a call later.

I said, I admire your persistence, but I'm not going to call you. Maybe I'll see you here again, and I'm sure we'll run into each other in the hospital. I can't seem to help but flirt with you when I do see you, so I guess you'll just have to learn to take what you can get.

He laughed a little with eyebrows raised, a bit surprised. It was as though he couldn't quite believe I'd said that, as though he'd never been turned down quite that way before. That was the last time I saw him...until the first day in the ICU.

We introduced ourselves as though we'd never met, and he spent the first day completely avoiding my eyes. He talked only to Peter. When he talked to me, he looked at Peter. This totally confused Peter and really made him sweat. Poor kid probably lost a liter of fluid in the first two hours of rounds.

It's been a week. Now, he's just trying not to be too obvious when other people are around. As with many things tried in the ICU, he's having limited success. I'm trying to remember the ventilator settings, and that he is still married. Peter is still sweating...and is totally oblivious.


Mme Benaut said...

Terroni, you know you've lost the battle when you remember every word of the conversation - not just his but yours as well. What a shame he is married - there is obviously such a strong connection between you and it's a bit like reading a script from Grey's Anatomy - remember how that turned out? You write so beautifully about flirting and dancing - it took me back years to the days when I flirted with everyone, not just my husband. I'm sure that that is one of the reasons why people don't settle down.
Anyway darlin' you had me spellbound for a few minutes and I can barely await for the next instalment. You should set up a special link named "Peter"! Besides, when someone is flirting with you and you flirt a tiny bit back, it inspires your confidence even further which attracts even more chaps - intrigued as ever. Glad you enjoyed your first week in ICU little one.

Mme Benaut said...

Oops - perhaps not "Peter". Perhaps some nice french sounding name like "Henri".

jenny said...

oh my god! I miss flirting, I dont get any male interaction these days, I long for a bit of eye contact whether its going anywhere or not!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and what a dilemma. Hopefully he doesn't become an arsehat hun. Men have such a great way of blaming women for their own fuck ups.

dive said...

All men are asshats, Kate. Terroni's still young, she's gotta learn the hard way.

I was going to flirt with Jenny here but I'm so gross that I'm afraid Kate would have a heart attack laughing.
Hey ho.

.j.william. said...

awesome post. it should be a short story.

Carrie said...

How bizarre.

I'm a big flirt. I even do it right in front of Adam. It just comes very natural to me. Kinda like it is my personality.

Sassy Sundry said...

It IS Grey's Anatomy!

You sound like you have that sexy flirty thing down cold. Tips, please.

Robyn said...

Ha, I was thinking it was Grey's Anatomy, too. This really is well-written, Terroni.

I have heard people say I am "comfortable in my skin." It's an odd phrase.

Maria said...

I'm sitting here laughing because we all watch WAY too much TV around here. And I only made it through the first season of Grey's...

First off, I don't have to tell you that you are on one slippery slope there, lovey. I wish I had some happy story to tell you, but I have never seen a Grey's story with a happy ending. It is precisely why I stopped watching that show. I sat there thinking that this was so NOT how it was.

Just a really gentle hint? Because I am a little worried about you getting hurt here. Do you really respect this guy? Because one day you could be on the other end of that cell phone. And some med student may be sitting at his table.

But..I am so GLAD that you sailed through those first few days. I am totally impressed. Everyone else I knew was that sweaty anxious guy.

Terroni said...

This Sunday is my last day with him. And although I've enjoyed the flirting immensely, no, of course I don't really respect him. He's married with 3 kids--the old Madonna-whore complex.

It has been fun, though.

And M...I genuinely appreciate your concern :)

Susanlee said...

*sigh* I used to love having affairs with married men, it was so much fun knowing that I didn't have to deal with their real lives, just the vacations and presents...not that I'm suggesting that, certainly not now since you're having to work with him...*shudder* it's just all too exciting, you always have so much going on!! I think I like Peter best anyway, I always did go for the nervous types... :)

Mme Benaut said...

Postcript: Maria is right, of course. Well said, Maria.

Angelissima said...

This is kinda like a Grey's Anatomy script (guilty...I normally never go in for soap operas, but damn it! I love GA).

I can't wait to hear how it turns out.
(my name is Angela btw, caught your link on Maria's)

Angelissima said...

oh, didn't read the other comments first...

gotta side with the ladies who say "NO!" But I think you know that already. Men are PIGS! rooting around for all they can get their muddy hoofs on.

Stay away from the cloven hoof. (kidding) I'm glad you found out he was married before things got sticky.

And, yes...being comfortable in your skin is a priceless trait. Especially for a DR. sheesh. I'd be scared to death if ole sweaty Pete was diagnosing my issues.

Rich said...

Being married can ruin everything. My wife and I have an agreement where we let each other be single one night a week.

BTW I have an infatuation with you ;)))

Terroni said...

Angela, welcome! Thank you for coming to my little corner of the web.

Susan, you still surprise me girl. Married men and your vibrator fell in the toilet at work.

She's not a innocent as she looks in those wedding pics, folks.

Rich, so...what night is that?

Cheryl said...

Ahh, so it is a bit like Gray's Anatomy after all. Too bad he's married. Sounds like you guys were having fun. I never was good at flirting. Too bad for me. You're going to have to be the strong one. I hope he gets over you and starts doing his job. This sucks!

CS said...

Oh, well, I wouldn't dream of offerieng advice here. The flirting sounds fun, and you seem to be pretty level-headed in your response, so enjoy.

Melanie said...

yep, sounds like one of those deliciously poisonous connections. powerful, but doomed. i'm glad you seem to already realize that. saves time.