I arrived at my residency program finally unencumbered by the messy relationship I’d been mucking around in for the previous, oh, seven years, and I was happy to be single. I was also happy to be starting residency. I was happy to be on antidepressants at last when I’d needed them for years. I was happy, happy, happy.
Which is not to say that I wasn’t looking.
In fact, I made up some guidelines for who I was looking for. I don’t remember them all, but I know they included:
- No more than five years older or younger than me
- Preferably not in the medical field
- Smart(er than me)
The first time I remember talking to TH was at a party early in internship year. It was a dumb “Eighties” party—practically designed to make me feel my age, since I was having sex in the eighties, while these kids were still trading Pokemon cards—and he was wearing tight red jeans. Despite this, I thought he was pretty cute. I definitely have a type—the Jewish intellectual—and he fit the bill. He was also talkative (important since I’m not), funny, and had a cute butt. In addition, he had appealing crow’s feet and had lost enough hair to make me think he was closer in age to me than the rest of the interns.
I was six or seven years older than the people who’d gone straight through college and residency. I didn’t mind this per se, but I felt like it changed my prospects as far as romantic relationships went. Mostly in that I wasn’t so interested in people who’d had little life experience. (Hence the five-year rule, I guess.) So I flirted a bit with this apparently worldly-wise guy, until something he said made me realize that he must look a lot older than he was. When I finally asked him his age, I was alarmed to discover that he was seven years younger than I was. (Later I found out that it was actually six years; the party occurred in between our birthdays.) And I thought, well, rule him out!
Which turned out to be a good call, because when I eventually worked with him, I discovered that he was the most anxious, compulsive, unhappy, and insecure intern in our whole class. He was a mess. It wasn’t even clear that he was particularly smart, he was so lacking in self-confidence. When I would “run the list” of eligible guys in our program with my friends, I always rejected him out of hand.
So the year wore on. I was pretty busy, but I managed to go on a few dates. (Nothing worth describing.) I was horny, but really, I was still very happy. I was running, I loved my residency, I loved my new city, I loved my apartment. I had left my ex with the realization that I would truly rather be alone than be with the wrong person, and I was enjoying being alone.
Then one day toward the end of internship year, Mr. Tight Red Pants approached me.
“I keep seeing you running near my apartment,” he said.
“Yeah, I was training for a marathon,” I said.
“I’m looking for a running partner. Would you be interested?” he asked.
I stared at him for a few moments, trying to decide if this was a come-on. But he seemed genuine. And I could use a running partner—the person I’d trained for the marathon with had developed a hip fracture.
So I said yes. But I made it clear (very clear, according to him) that this was a Running Relationship Only.
What a stupid bitch I was.
To be continued.