The Doctor

IMG_7533Mark and I have a ritual we follow almost every night.

He unbuttons his shirt and I ask him how his day went.

He drops the shirt on the bench, steps out of his pants and tells me about his house, baseball practice, what he made for dinner. Sometimes, not often, he says “nothing. Nothing at all,” at which point, I try to convince him to get a dog.

He’ll change his watch, fold himself into a shirt from the rack, adjust the suspenders on a different pair of pants, and ask me about my day. I’ll answer with a quip about my dog, a person I’ve met, my newest money-making scheme, or the questionable ball of mozzarella I made and what I think went wrong.

He’ll dive into a wig that looks suspiciously like his own hair, tape a mustache to his upper lip, and offer sage advice.

Tonight, I have something to tell him. Something strange and wonderful. Something new.

“I have an appointment with a dating coach. He’s been on Wendy Williams.”

He bites down on the cheap cigar planted firmly in the side of his mouth.

“I got a groupon,” I add.

“I can’t wait to hear about it tomorrow.”

Mark’s a good friend.

***

I’ve been watching my life from the sidelines. Observing it like a child with her hands stuck to the window of a candy shop. Tying to see myself through the eyes of someone else. I imagine what the love doctor will see when I walk into the room. And what he’ll say. Will I be laughing or crying when I leave his office. Will I be able to listen when he tells me about me.

The dog sleeps on the sofa in her new favorite spot. I steal a glance at the clock. It’s time.

I know what’s he’s going to say.

For the first time in my life, I squirt something other than toothpaste on my toothbrush.

It’s a thick foundation I bought for a show to cover up an actor’s tattoo. I sweep it off the tooth-brush and dab it on my eye-lids and blend. My hair is fat, and no amount of product will skinny it down.

I must be nervous.

He’ll tell me to wear nail polish. He’ll say I need to grow my nails. I’ll explain that my mother never taught me how to be a girl and after playing an instrument for twenty year, any length of nail is a distraction. Nail polish makes me feel claustrophobic. No, don’t play the cello anymore. I put it down one day and never picked it back up. But wearing nail polish makes me feel like I’m suffocating. I pick it off.

He’s going to tell me to color my hair.

I step back and catch myself in the mirror.

I look like a six-year-old who dressed herself.

***

East side, midtown.

I’m over-dressed for the heat. I’ve never been great at choosing seasonal attire.

Caught in a pack of a lunchtime traffic, I hustle towards Lexington. I can’t find the building, so I revisit his address. He’s on Madison. I double back.

“Hi Matt, this is Amy. We have a two o’clock appointment. I mistook your address. I might be a few minutes late. I’ll call you when I’m outside your building.”

I don’t want him to think my single-hood has anything to do with poor time management.

I know what’s he’s going to ask.

And I know if I open my mouth I know I’ll tell him everything. I’ll talk and talk and I won’t be able to stop. I’ll tell him that I don’t know what I want. And that I don’t think anyone does. I’ll mention how I don’t even know if it matters, because life seems to have a mind of its own.

But if I were to boil it down, maybe what I really want is to be with someone who makes me want to be a better person – and I worry that’s too much to ask of someone every day for forty years. But what if I don’t make that person who makes me want to be a better person want to be a better person?

I’m stuck in the spin spin cycle.

The love doctor has taught skin and artificially pronounced cheek bones. His voice is high and excitable. A self-titled ‘betrayer of his sex,’ he says on his website that he wants to share his wisdom with women so that they can find love like the kind he and his wife share. His blonde highlights shimmer when he speaks, his tie lays across his chest, artfully askew. His jeans are worn in just so. He wears nice shoes.

I pull my hair up into a loose bun.

He’s going to see that I’m an unmade bed.

***

“Hi Matt, this is Amy again. It’s a little after two. I’m outside your office building… calling you… Maybe you’re on the other line. I’ll see you soon….”

I ask the man at the security desk if Matt’s in.

He shrugs and sends me to sixth floor.

The business is called “weapons of mass seduction.” IMG_7548 My defunct business, Love Drugged, sold weapons of mass attraction. The synchronicity is unsettling.

I ride the elevator up. Step off on six.

The woman at the front desk hasn’t seen him all day, but she offers to see if he’s in. I sink into the pleather sofa.

I’ll confess that time’s an issue. I work nights and I work days. And when I’m not working, I’m thinking about work or my dog or eating leafy greens. I’ll explain that being a writer is like having five characters tap dancing in your brain all the time. It’s distracting. I love that this is my life.

I wait.

I’ll admit that I’m that I’m trying to decide between taking a course on arts entrepreneurship or professional poker playing and how I’ve been courted three times for card counting teams and deemed a natural by one card counter, even though I get stage fright and am terrible with numbers and when I approached a dollar table in Las Vegas three years ago, I turned and walked away. I didn’t even play a single round. But if I can figure it out, maybe I’ll have more hospitable moments to practice staying in love.

The clock ticks.

I’ll tell him, above all else, that feeling lonely when you wake up next to someone is a hell of a lot worse than waking up alone.

2:13. 2:14. 2:15…

I learned that the hard way.

***

I email my friend from a quiet corner on 50th Street.

“I just got stood up by a fucking dating coach.”

He is a literary man, a public person, and his response to my dilemma, which is sworn to secrecy by his own request and an electronic privacy notice he attaches to the bottom of his emails, has more words than letters. He is as distraught as I am.

I chew the inside of my lip and try to gauge how big my hair has grown. I think I might be hungry.

I just got stood up by a fucking dating coach.

***

“My appointment was today,” I confess to Mark as he tightens his tie.

His eyes light up. “And…”

“He was a no-show.”

Mark fumes. “You need to smear that guy’s name all over the internet. You need to leave him a nasty message. Tell him you have friends in the mafia,” he say. “You must crush him.” At 6’2″, with his mustache taped firmly on his upper lip, he cuts an intimidating figure.

“Okay,” I say as I straighten the hair sitting on his head. “I’ll tell him you said so.”

***

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***

Check out the article I wrote for Slash Coleman’s blog Bohemian Love Diaries.

And, then, buy his book! It’s great!

2 thoughts on “The Doctor

  1. This is great…and I’m mad for you. I agree with Mark…and you do kind of have friends in the mafia or at least friends who act every night like they are in the mafia…Mark being one. I think he would help.

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