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The Dating Project | ‘The Doctor’

Sarah Rose

Dating with a view to marriage is no other thing than work. I am a writer in New York, but Sex & the City this ain’t. Carrie had friends who weren’t repopulating the planet. She had fancy shoes. I have fuzzy Crocs. I get commuter rail and Brooklyn birthday parties. She got limos and glam soirees. I actually exist.

This is a project and it is a schlep. I used to believe in surgical strikes, now I’m carpet bombing. I’m on three different dating websites. I ask total strangers if they know anyone single because I have dated the pool of my friends’ friends’ friends dry. Somewhere, someone is going to make me laugh and swoon. I haven’t met him yet. I’m trying.

I hope it will end. Happily.

We were set up by his old friend, someone I don’t know well. The grand unified theory of matchmaking states: If someone else is the friend, you are the favor. I don’t care. I take referrals. He was a freelance doctor with contracts in Alaska.

Doctor: Have you ever tasted freshly hunted meat?
Me: Of course, I’m from the Midwest.
Doctor: It must be incredible.
Me: Mostly it’s leathery, actually.
Doctor: I can’t eat it because it isn’t kosher, but it must be so amazing. Alaska is so natural and beautiful. Not like New York.

I love a pretty landscape, but natural doesn’t equal better. Nature makes plenty of mistakes: hunchbacks, cancers, and Kardashians. Some unnatural things are fantastic: surgery, space travel, Cheetos.

Doctor: I’m taking a month off and going to Oklahoma.
Me: Goodness, why?
Doctor: Tornadoes.
Me: I’m from the Midwest, and tornadoes hurt people.
Doctor: It’s going to be so cool.

He wore the plaid shirt and shag-beard of a hipster, but was from a small religious enclave in Brooklyn. He just closed on an apartment that could not be reached from Manhattan by train.

Doctor: I never go to Manhattan anymore. Brooklyn is so awesome.

His true love was travel. He was a couch surfer and had been a house guest all over the planet. He had total strangers in his apartment right now.

Me: That sounds like a good way to get bedbugs and robbed.
Doctor: I meet such interesting people. I get 10 requests for my apartment a day. And I’ve only been robbed once.

He arranged his career to fit his travel addiction. Alaska pays handsomely for big city doctors, just like that sitcom he never saw about his exact same life. I’ve at least seen every episode of Sex and the City.

Doctor: I fly back for another contract next week. On my last flight someone overdosed and I had to step up.
Me: Wow, did they actually ask if there’s a doctor in the house? I was on a plane every week for years and it never happened.
Doctor: It happens all the time. At least six or seven times. I’ve only had to put the plane down once. There was this one time when it was me, an allergist, two nurses and a PA. We were pushing atropine. It was like a mini-ER in the galley.

I wasn’t thrilled about seeing him before he rebounded to the midnight sun, but how many more almost-on-the-mark dates am I going to get? When it came time to schedule date #2, I just couldn’t. I made my excuses, it was me.

Doctor: Unfortunately “knockout” got the best of me.

Was he calling me a knockout? Why the quotes? I didn’t get it. Or was he referring to the imaginary crime game?

Doctor: Yeah, got sucker punched while biking. Thankfully, not too bad. Appreciate the warm words. I think you’re pretty cool.

Only that didn’t happen. It is a media fiction. He isn’t a magnet for airplane disasters either. He’s not some naïve Fievel, he’s grandiose. That’s not good enough.

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