Monday, February 14, 2005

8:32 AM

mood: greedy
last night's sleep rating: D
rounds: are over
who's late? Definitely not Cameron.

They're off getting breakfast, and I'm sitting at the conference table, examining this new... arrangement that has appeared.

Cameron has been a payoff in beauty beyond my highest expectations. She not only decorates the office with her pretty face, she literally decorates the office. As in bringing in decorations. Nothing too ridiculous -- she knows when to stop -- but she's doing really nice things with that candy bowl. Does she read Martha Stewart? This morning she's got it filled with those conversation hearts, which, now that I look at them, would be really attractive at the bottom of an aquarium, in a chunky novel pastel way (not the dissolving and poisoning the fish part.) And then she's got heart-shaped lollipops and... what are these things? Cookies on sticks? How strange. Anyway, she's got the lollipop and the cookie-pop sticks impaled in the candy hearts, so the candy hearts hold them in place and the treats are kind of waving in the air. Like trees in the Lollipop Forest, or quills on a porcupine. I mentally start ranking the treats in order of preference, but I decide to wait and give the others a shot too. It's a bit too early in the morning for candy, even for me.

Another Valentine's Day, another life. I kept my promise to Eileen and didn't harass Kopp... well, not too much, and not too obviously. I tried to think of some kind of scheme where I could get another bag of candy out of the deal, but I couldn't come up with anything that wouldn't be construed as harassment, and there's really no good way to say, "Hey, Kopp, tell your girlfriend I want some more candy." Well, that's a good way in the sense of effective, but I wanted sneaky and clever too, something that wouldn't elicit the obvious response (Well, go to the store and buy some!)

A week or so went by and then the red paper hearts started going up on the units for Valentine's Day. The day itself found Mr Kopp and myself in the room of yet another liver patient, Mrs Walford. It was mid-afternoon. I had the unhappy duty of assisting Dr Ball with her pericentesis; Kopp was there to observe and hand us stuff as needed.

After the procedure, Dr Ball left, and Kopp and I stayed behind to chart and keep an eye on her. Mrs Walford looked pretty dejected. She knew how sick she was getting. Kopp took and charted another blood pressure.

"So, you boys doing anything for Valentine's Day?" she asked.

We looked at each other. I gave Kopp a smirk, Kopp gave me a glare, and Mrs Walford's face lit up with interest.

"Well, answer the lady," I commanded.

"Well, what about you?" she asked me. "Young doctor like you... I see the mischief in those baby blues, don't tell me you're not doing anything!"

"Unfortunately, Mrs Walford, my complete dedication to my patients and to the study of medicine has left me without time for any kind of romantic life." She giggled. "Now, on the other hand, Mr Kopp here..."

Kopp shot me a furious look, but it was too late. Mrs Walford cackled as his ears started going crimson at the tips.

"Well, good for you," she said. "Life's too short to spend it all on one thing, and if you want to be married for fifty years like me, you can't put romance off for too long. So what's your girlfriend like?"

I laughed. Mr and Mrs Walford had recently celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, and she never missed an opportunity to work it into the conversation. "Mr. Kopp, why don't you show her a picture?"

Kopp looked sullenly away. "I don't have a picture with me."

I opened my mouth to reprimand him, but Mrs Walford beat me to it, and her indignation was real. When she was done fussing at him, I volunteered, "I think you're right, Mrs Walford, he really ought to be carrying her picture. " I leaned forward over the foot of the bed and loudly whispered, "I've met her. She's really cute!"

Her lips pursed with delight. "Is she, now?"

"Kopp, aren't you going to tell her? No? Well, then. I can't tell you her name, because it's a secret. But she's very pretty. She has long hair, and green eyes, and she's a singer. And you know what the best part is?" Mrs Walford leaned forward raptly. "She's a junior in high school and she's on the cheerleading squad!"

"Oh would you shut up!" Kopp burst out. He looked pleadingly at Mrs Walford. "She is not in high school, she's in college," he explained. "She's not a cheerleader. And we haven't been dating that long."

She ignored him. "So what kind of singer is she?" she asked me.

"I believe she's a classical singer, isn't she?" I turned to Kopp.

"Yes. She's majoring in vocal performance. She sings mostly, uh, classical music. Opera-type stuff."

My lip curled. Barbarian.

"So what are you doing for her for Valentine's Day?" Mrs Walford asked.

"Yeah, Kopp, what are you doing?"


It was too late -- it was apparent that he hadn't given it much thought. Mrs Walford lit into him, explaining that if he wanted to hold onto a pretty girl like that then he needed to treat her right, to treat her like a queen, and that didn't mean spending a lot of money, but it did mean going to some effort on Valentine's Day, of all days. Just then Mr Walford appeared. I noticed he had his hands behind his back, one hand holding a red rose in a bud vase and the other holding a pink envelope. It was obvious he'd come from the gift shop. Mrs Walford filled him in about how this nice medical student was taking all this time from his studies to date a beautiful singing cheerleader but he hadn't given a moment's thought to even buying her a card for Valentine's Day, and if he didn't treat her right she was going to find herself somebody who would and then where would he be?

Mr Walford shook his head. "You'll be in the doghouse, son. Take it from me." He leaned over the bed rails and kissed his wife with understated tenderness. She beamed as he presented his gifts.

"You heard what the man said," I told Kopp.

We filled in Mr Walford on the success of the procedure, made sure Mrs Walford was comfortable, and started gathering up our things. Mrs Walford wasn't finished with Kopp, though. She earnestly instructed him to do something nice for his girl. "And get her some chocolate, for my sake." She looked at me. "Make sure he does it!"

I looked at the clock. "I promise I'll take him as soon as we're done with rounds."

We walked down the hall towards the conference room. "What did you do that for?" he asked sullenly. "I was going to get something, I hadn't forgotten. And why are you so interested anyway?"

"No, you would have gone to the cafeteria with your classmates to get a snack and bitch about your day, just like you do every day. And then you would have gone to the gift shop and found out it was closed, or that it was closing in four minutes and everything was picked over, or that you were out of cash. I'm your mentor, I'm supposed to have your back. You should be grateful to me for saving your sorry scut monkey ass. And I promised Mrs Walford."

He thought I was kidding. I wasn't. As rounds broke up, I gave him a stern look. He hung his head and trudged along.

I studied the ceiling of the elevator, while he studied the floor.

"So, Kopp, what are you really doing?"

"We're having dinner. Nothing fancy."

"You taking her out?"

He shook his head.

"She taking you out?"

"Nah, she's even broker than I am."

"So who's cooking?"

"She's cooking at my place."

"Got roommates?"

"They're making themselves scarce." He smiled faintly.

The doors opened. Kopp followed me to the gift shop.

I looked over his shoulder while he selected his card. One of the gift shop ladies started watching us with interest. I gave her a wink and she smiled knowingly. Kopp picked out a really slushy card, but put it back when he saw the price. I felt for the guy; I remembered what it was like to be broke. I still wasn't terribly flush myself. I considered slipping him some money but decided that would be pushing it.

Finally he found one and held it up. "I suppose you want to sign off on this?"

"What, you don't want this one?" I showed him a card with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on it.

He made a face, walked off to the floral cooler, and started checking the prices on the bottom of the bud vases. I wandered off to the candy section and started to browse. Hospital gift shops usually have a wonderful selection of candy, including penny, nickel, and ten-cent pieces. Even if you're down to your last nickel, you can still get some sugar.

Kopp had selected a flower and was headed over to the checkout counter. I cleared my throat and nodded toward the heart-shaped boxes. He let out an annoyed sigh and put his flower down on the counter. "I can do two out of three, that's all."

"You could always just get the flower without the vase," offered the lady. "I can put a floral tube on the stem."

"Yeah, just get the flower, and bring her some candy. Get over here." He obeyed, and started turning the boxes over to check the prices as I offered advice.

He looked at some of the big heart-shaped boxes of cheaper candy, but finally picked out a tiny red box with four chocolate truffles. The gift shop lady and I nodded with approval. She gift-wrapped the candy and offered him a pen to sign the card. He tucked his package under his arm, muttered an insincere thanks, and headed off towards the shuttle stop exit. I returned to my own candy selection and the delicious algebra problem of what combination of lollipops, peppermints, and Reese's mini-cups I would purchase for fifty cents.

I finally decided on one Tootsie Pop (orange), two peppermints, and one Reese's cup and headed over to check out. The lady put my candy into a wee paper bag and handed it over. "Looking out for your medical student? That's very sweet of you. Happy Valentine's Day, Doctor."

I grunted and took the bag. As I left the shop, I stopped to unwrap the Reese's cup and heard the lady murmur something to herself.

I stopped in my tracks. Had she just said something about Doctor Cyrano?

Naaah. I popped the candy in my mouth and headed back toward the elevator.


Blogger Sanlin said...

Sweet. :-) (And not just because of the candy content. LOL ;-) )


February 14, 2005 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Saskia said...

God...that's...way too sugary sweet.

Gag me.

February 14, 2005 3:12 PM  
Blogger Auditrix said...

Hmmmm, Saskia, I'm sure I could arrange for that... I know someone....

February 14, 2005 3:33 PM  
Blogger Dr. Mac said...


You know, I'm bitter because I didn't get anything today. What's the use of having subordinates if they don't give me candy?

You should be grateful to me for saving your sorry scut monkey ass.I love this line! In fact, I may use it the next chance I get.

February 14, 2005 5:39 PM  
Blogger Saya said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 14, 2005 9:15 PM  
Blogger House said...

Mac, you are absolutely right. What's the use of subordinates if they don't bring you tribute? Perhaps you need to reevaluate your hiring criteria. I've had great success with taking a more unorthodox approach to hiring. Forget that resume crap and start looking for pretty females with caretaking complexes. Or look for someone a little more plain, a bit on the plump side, especially if she's already married -- good chance she'll know how to bake.

February 15, 2005 9:14 AM  

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