7 Minute Read
“Girl, medicine is messing with my love life!” Asha said to me with a sigh. It was early afternoon, and we were writing notes in our windowless team room. It was a call day, meaning that our team was in charge of admitting new patients to the hospital, and we would likely be at work until late in the evening.
“Tell me about it,” I laughed. “Have you gone on any dates recently?”
“DATES?! HA!” She sneered. “I’m either at the hospital or in my bed these days… I haven’t met anyone new in months. Have YOU been going on dates?” She turned to look at me expectantly.
“Nah, we are definitely in the same boat. Residency doesn’t leave much time for fun.” I wasn’t really meeting new people at all. I went to work and home and work and home, and occasionally to church on the weekends if I was off (and… I usually wasn’t). Our intern year schedule consisted of 12-28 hour shifts, 6 days a week, with one weekend off every 5 weeks. During those precious weekends, I tried to squeeze in sleep, hanging out with friends or family, sleep, trying to catch up on studying, and ofcourse SLEEP. As you can imagine, it was hard to find time or ENERGY for making any new friends, let alone dating.
The door swung open as Dr. Williams, our attending, barged in the room. “Coffee, anyone?” He sang, placing a cardboard Starbucks coffee take-out container, cups, sugar, and creamer on the table.
We took turns updating him on our patients and the remaining tasks we had for the afternoon. As was his custom, he took five minutes to teach us about a topic relevant to patient care, and then stood to leave the room. “OK, I’m headed to my office. You know how to reach me, just call if you have questions about the new admissions.” He opened the door with one hand, and then paused, looking back at us. He wore mischief on his face, and his dark brown eyes twinkled. “And who knows? Maybe you’ll be lucky and get off work in time to go out and meet someone.”
We gasped in unison, our faces plastered with simultaneous humor and mortification. “So… you heard us earlier?” I croaked.
He winked, then chuckled as he said softly, “I mean… medicine won’t keep you warm at night…” and then shut the door behind him.
“This is UNACCEPTABLE; even our attending feels like we need to get a life!” I exclaimed as we shared a laugh.
“How about this…” Asha turned her chair to face mine. She had an oval face, almond-shaped eyes set under thick eyelashes, and long jet-black hair that she wore in a bun. “The department holiday party is coming up in December. We should make a pact that by then we will BOTH have dates!” She nibbled on the cap of her blue ink pen and looked up at the ceiling as she pondered her idea. “Oh! And it has to be men we ACTUALLY like. No cheating!”
“That should be doable,” I replied. “It’s just the beginning of October. We have plenty of time.”
“Yeah, but we have to be serious about going places even if we’re tired!”
“And actually saying ‘Yes’ when we get asked out,” I laughed, thinking of stories we had shared with each other earlier in the week. We had both turned down dates in the past due to sheer exhaustion.
“So is it a deal?” She stuck out her hand.
I shook her hand and smiled. “Deal.”
Over the next few weeks, pact in mind, I made the effort to be outside of the house as much as possible. I went to open mics on days that I got off work before 7pm, happy hours at one of my favorite spots in the city, and game nights and kickbacks with friends on my weekend days off. My sleep suffered tremendously, but it was fun getting asked to dinner a few times after being “out and about” for a change.
So…. you know the scene in almost every romantic comedy where there’s a montage of a girl or guy going on multiple goofy dates before they finally meet The One? Insert my montage here:
*Que “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo.*
Date 1: I’m at a steak-house sitting across from my date. We’re smiling at each other, making small talk. He asks me about work, I ask him about his family. As the conversation continues, he asks, “So, are you a feminist?” I’m taken aback by how random the question is. “Uhmm… if you’re asking me if I believe that men and women are equal… yes, I do,” I reply. He nods as he takes another bite. “Fascinating,” he says. “Uhmmmmm… do you disagree?” I ask. He chews for a moment. “I mean, define equal,” he says. I have a feeling this is about to go downhill. “I think men and women should be respected equally in society… and I don’t think men are smarter than women –” “Oh? Fascinating.” He cuts me off. “Uhhhhh…. Do you disagree?” I ask again. He launches into a monologue about how men are better at leadership roles and women are better at homemaking and how important it is for both genders to fulfill their roles. “I guess… I’m surprised that you feel this way,” I say. “I mean… my job is certainly out of the home.” He smiles, and reaches across the table to touch my hand. “It’s ok. You just haven’t quite found a man that can handle you yet.”
Date 2: A guy texts me to invite me to a game watching party at his apartment. I arrive half an hour late (a Queen is never late, everyone else is simply early… haha kidding, I’m just on African time), and I’m the only one there. He invites me inside, we sit on the couch, and chat for some time. “Wow, I thought I was late, but I guess I’m early. No one else is here yet.” I say after 15 minutes. “Oh… no, it’s just going to be us,” he replies. You’ve got to be kidding me. “Oh…I thought this was a party. Like… with people.” I say, as he goes to the kitchen to get food. He brings food back for the both of us on one plate. “Yeah, uhm, can I have my own plate?” I ask. “Oh, I just thought maybe we could share though,” he winks at me. *Insert shot of me walking out of his apartment quickly.*
Date 3: I’m at the movies with my date. It’s a superhero movie (Marvel >>> DC!), so I’m excited. 45 minutes into the movie, he’s snoring. Like… that full body rocking type of snore. I give him periodic shoulder jabs to wake him up, and he jolts up with a loud snort. He falls asleep again within a few minutes every time. I can barely enjoy the movie, and people keep giving us evil looks. When the movie is over, he walks me to my car. “Today must have been a busy day at work! You were really tired in there,” I say. “Oh! Oh, nah. I always fall asleep in movies,” He replies. Then why the CRAP did you invite me to a movie then! He hugs me and then says, “I had fun, want to catch another movie sometime?”
Date 4: OK… So this isn’t really a date. My friend from college is in town, and we decide to meet up for dinner. We’ve always been platonic, and that hasn’t changed, but I can’t help but notice how handsome he is. We have a wonderful time catching up, talking about the good ol’ days, sharing laughs. He gets up to use the bathroom. As soon as he walks away, the two ladies at the next table over get my attention. “Excuse us, but GIRL IS THAT YOUR MAN?” I look at them and smile without answering because I’m not sure where this is going. “Girl, he is FOINEEE, fine! That’s a good looking man! If you won’t take him home tonight… let us know because WE WILL!” I think of dates 1-3… and the pact…and decide to ask him if he’s willing to come with me to the holiday party. Yeah, it’s cheating because the rules say it has to be someone we are actually interested in, but no one has to know! Plus, he’s eye-candy! “Oh man, I wish I could, but I’ll be leaving town by then,” he says. Dangit.
December rolled around and holiday cheer filled the air. The hospital was decorated with elaborate wreaths, Starbucks had larger-than-life displays of peppermint lattes on every corner, and there was candy everywhere. On the day of the holiday party, I worked a full 12-hour shift, along with most of the other residents. We had all brought our nice clothes to change into after work so we could walk together over to the fancy hotel where the party was being held.
When I walked into the venue, I saw Asha standing next to a tall, handsome man in a burgundy button-down shirt. What a fail! She brought a date and I didn’t…I’m just going to avoid her. I ran into the bathroom to “adjust myself” (which was probably a good idea anyway, as I had gotten dressed and did my makeup in the backseat of my car before walking over).
I exited the bathroom a few moments later and was heading over to the buffet when I heard someone call my name. Dang it. “Heyyyyy, Asha!” I said, turning to face her. We hugged, exchanged some shallow pleasantries, and then descended into a moment of awkward silence.
“Soo…” I started. “Where did your date go?”
“HUH? Date?” She sighed and laughed. “Girl, the streets are AWFUL! I didn’t find anyone to bring.”
I burst into laughter. “Wait, really? Then who was the tall guy in the burgundy shirt?”
“OHHHH that’s Christina’s husband,” she laughed, referring to another one of our co-residents.
“Well I guess this makes two of us!” I responded, relieved that I wasn’t the only one to break the pact. “When you have the time, I will TELL YOU the craziness I went through to try and bring someone.”
Dr. Williams walked over, one eyebrow raised. “Dates?” He smiled.
We laughed and shook our heads, as he stood between the two of us and asked one of the other residents to take our picture.
Until next time,
PS. This story reflects my crazy schedule during intern year!!! I’m so thankful that it got much better 2nd year, and I have much more free time now. For everyone going through the intern year struggle, just hold on! It’ll be alright! ❤