tagging the surgeon

So the surgeon suggests, three consecutive times, that we go out. Like on a date, I guess.

I have a fondness for the surgeon because, despite having my number, he only ever corresponds with me occasionally. This is a good quality in a man, if you’re me.

So he’s got that going for him. But I only ever met him once, very briefly. At one of those celebratory events you attend when your friend beats cancer.

It’s not the best circumstances under which to meet a man. Because there’s the whole gratitude vibe happening, which makes it’s hard to gauge what people are really like. You know, when they’re not pretending that they have a concept of life’s preciousness.

Oh my God, I just realized that I’m saying this about someone who cuts people open for a living.

He just came off as being so nice, is all.

Nice being a trait to which I’m unaccustomed.

I’m not even sure how to respond to nice.

So I ignore the surgeon’s suggestions that we get together until the third time, when it kind of starts to seem like he’ll pick up on my ignoring it, and stop asking. And even though I’m not sure I want to see more of him, I’m not sure that I don’t want to either. I’m probably 50/50.

“Look, I should probably tell you something,” I announce, and already it sounds more dramatic than I intended. It sounds like the warm-up to letting someone know you’re married, or wearing an ankle monitor, is what I think.

But he just says, “Please do.” Which kind of puts me at ease.

“It’s just, you know. I don’t really do dates.”

“How so?” he inquires, which wasn’t what I expected.

He’s surprisingly solid, this one.

“As in, I don’t know how,” I say, for a start, and then decide to risk exposing more. “As in, the idea of sitting across the table from someone and trying to get acquainted that way sounds hideous to me.”

I fight the urge to follow up what I’ve just said with a statement that would imply there is something wrong with me. Something like, “There’s probably something wrong with me.”

Because it really doesn’t matter what’s wrong with me. Not yet, anyway.

The surgeon takes me off guard by not putting me down.

“You don’t do dates,” he says instead, restating what I’ve just said in that kind of way therapists do when they want you to know you’ve said something important.

It’s oddly validating.

“Are you a therapist, too?” I ask, suddenly suspicious. I’m pretty sure I’d have to draw the line at therapist.

He laughs. “No.”


I think about how, when the surgeon asked for my number, I picked up the sharpie that was on the kitchen counter and wrote my number in large digits on the inside of his forearm.

“He’s a doctor, Delilah!” my cancer-free friend scolded, about the sharpie thing, after he’d left. “Not a character in a John Hughes movie!”

“Right,” I responded. “Roger that.”

It’s not as though I’m behaving badly on purpose.

Is it?

“You should come over to my house Thursday,” I say to him now, impulsively. “If you want to. But don’t try to talk to me while you’re here. I mean, if you have something to say, say it. Of course. But let’s don’t do the whole forced conversation thing.”

“We’ll converse only when necessary,” he reassures me, perhaps teasingly.

I like being teased. Almost as much as I like being taken off-guard.

And tomorrow is Thursday.

Which means, very soon, I maybe get to find out what else I like.


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