Doctor, Doctor

If I ever become famous enough to be featured in that US Weekly column, 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me, one of those ‘things’ will be that when I was in middle school, I went through this weird punk/goth/poseur phase. I had posters of Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder all over my bedroom, maroon streaks in my my hair, and I rocked oversized JNKO jeans from Hot Topic. I was very angsty and wrote purple prose-ish poetry while listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and burning incense. My poor parents.

So when I found out Pearl Jam was playing Barclays Center this past weekend, I jumped on tickets. Turns out Brad, Nina’s boyfriend, is a big fan too, so I was going with the two of them and Brad’s friend Darren, who was visiting from Boston.

Barclays Center is in Brooklyn, and the best meeting place for all of us was at this dive bar in Midtown.  We planned to have a few drinks before hopping on the subway.

Nina and I were the first to arrive, and upon finding a beer pong table in the back of the bar, decided to play a little one on one game while it was just the two of us and there were no boys to judge how terrible we were.

And the following story is what I get for pretending like I am still in college: Nina shot first, the ball fell on the ground, and as I bent over to pick it up, I whacked my head so hard on the wooden ledge of the bar that I heard a collective gasp go around the room. That, and the horrified look on Nina’s face when I stood up, told me it was bad.

“Shit,” Nina said, rushing over to me. “Are you okay? Does it hurt?”

“Not too much,” I said. I went to touch the spot I’d hit, but Nina grabbed my hand.

“Don’t touch it!” she said. “I think you need stitches.”

At this point, I was still in shock. I didn’t even realize that the skin right beneath my eyebrow was split in two. The bartender wrapped some ice in a paper towel and handed it to me before Nina took me to the bathroom.

I took one look in the mirror and knew I would not be making the concert. I needed to go to the emergency room right away. Nina insisted on coming with me, even though I told her she didn’t have to. “Are you kidding me?” she said. “You could have a concussion.” She texted Brad on our way out the door, letting him know our change of plans.

Even though a gash on your eyebrow hardly requires major medical surgery, it was a sobering moment to realize I had no idea where to go in the case of an emergency, and neither did Nina. We had to look up “ER NYC” on our phones, and finally decided to go to the one at Lenox Hill because it was closest to my apartment. “Maybe they can stitch me up quickly and we can still catch the second half of the concert,” I said, hopefully.

Nina looked at me. “Have you ever been to the emergency room before?”

I thought. Realized I hadn’t and shook my head.

Nina laughed. “Oh, this will be fun”

We sat in the waiting room for three hours. Once we were admitted, we sat on a gurney in the hallway for another two before a nurse finally came by and led us into a small examining room. She wrote down all my information and told me that the doctor would be with me shortly.

It was another forty-five minutes before the door opened and someone said,  “I’m Dr. Ahmad.” At this point all of the ice had completely melted and I was holding a wet paper towel against my head, half blind, delirious with hunger, and worried I had some kind of staph infection and/or a serious head injury.

I felt Dr. Ahmad’s hand on my knee and heard his gentle voice say, “Can you remove the paper towel so I can take a look?” I did, and it was like the clouds opened and the angels sang. Dr. Ahmad was gorgeous. And young. I put him in his early thirties. I looked over his shoulder and saw that Nina was humping the air and mouthing, “Yeahhhh.”

“That’s quite a bruiser,” Dr. Ahmad said. “How’d you get that?”

I was not about to tell this accomplished, sophisticated New York City doctor that I’d sliced my eyebrow in half playing beer pong at a dive bar in Midtown. “Someone pushed me and I fell down the subway stairs.”

Nina rolled her eyes at me behind his back.

Dr. Ahmad gave me an odd look. “But how did you…fall exactly?”

“It’s all just a blur,” I said, weakly.

Dr. Ahmad nodded and made his way over to the sink in the corner of the room. “You need three or four stitches,” he said. “But I have to clean it out first.”

“Um, will that hurt?” I asked.

“I’ll numb the area first.” Dr. Ahmad smiled at me over his shoulder and that was all the pain medication I needed.

“I’ll need you to put a gown on first.” He nodded at the paper hospital gown folded next to me on the bed. “I’ll give you a few minutes to do that.”

As soon as Dr. Ahmad was gone, Nina turned to me and said, “Someone pushed you down the subway stairs?”

I pointed my finger at her. “Don’t blow my cover.”

A few minutes later, Dr. Ahmad knocked on the door. “Decent?” he called out. If you consider a thin paper gown that pretty much exposes my entire butt, then yes I was decent.

Dr. Ahmad told me to lie down and then he cranked the handle on the side of the hospital bed to raise it up, and without a bra my enormous boobs flopped like a fish on land with every turn of the handle. It was awful.

Dr. Ahmad didn’t mention that in order to numb the area, he had to stick it with a needle several times. I tried to be strong and not cry but he was sticking a needle in an open wound and I couldn’t help it as a single tear rolled down the side of my face. Dr. Ahmad patted my arm and said, “It’s okay. The worst is over.” I almost told him I loved him.

Ten minutes later, I was all stitched up. I was sad to leave Dr. Ahmad, but he said he would see me in a few days when I came back to get the stitches out. I started planning my outfit immediately.

It was after midnight by the time Nina and I stepped out onto the street. We were starving, so we stopped at my favorite pizza place on our walk back to my apartment. I’m obviously on good terms with the owners, and when they saw the massive bandage over my eye, they gave me my slice for free! Who says New Yorkers are assholes?

Nina went to meet Brad at a bar in the West Village, but I was exhausted and I put myself to bed immediately. I hadn’t been planning on going into the office that weekend, mostly because I’d anticipated being mildly hungover on Saturday. But thanks to my injury that kept me from drinking eighty million Natty Ices and passionately singing “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” I woke up feeling refreshed and energized. I decided to go into the office for a few hours and get a head start on my work for the week.

I showered, changed the bandage over my eye, and started off on the walk to my office. It was a cloudy day, which I was thankful for because I don’t think my sunglasses would have properly fit over my makeshift eye patch.

I’d been in the office for only an hour when I heard the elevator doors ding open and voices in the hallway.

…”Just a transitional period,” one of the voices was saying. “Take what you can from William but don’t feel like you have to do things his way.”

“That won’t be a problem,” the other voice said. They both laughed.

I don’t know what came over me, but instinct told me to crouch down.

“He’s stubborn,” said the one guy, as they passed by my desk, thankfully on the other side of my cube, where I couldn’t be seen. “But just remind yourself it’s temporary and he’ll be out of your hair soon.”

I heard them go into William’s office. They were only in there a few minutes before they disappeared down the hallway, presumably to look at some of the empty offices left by the editors who had been fired. I didn’t know if I should use that opportunity to run, or if I should wait for them to leave first. I was just getting ready to make a move when I heard them, coming around the corner again. I froze.

“Definitely William’s office,” the one guy said, and they laughed again.

“A few more weeks and it’s yours.”

My heart was in my throat and as the great Cady Heron once said, I felt like my stomach was going to fall out of my butt. I never even saw the people attached to the voices, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that William’s position as ‘acting” Editor in Chief wasn’t permanent.

I waited ten minutes before leaving. As soon as I was on the street, I texted William and told him I needed to speak to him ASAP.

When I didn’t hear back in an hour, I tried calling, but William’s phone went straight to voicemail. I didn’t have his personal email, only his work one, so I sent a cryptic message to that address.

I didn’t hear from William all weekend. I was a ball of stress (with an eye patch to boot)  come Monday morning. William doesn’t usually get into the office until 10:30 or 11, and the second I saw him walk through the elevator doors, I took off after him.

“Did you get any of my messages?” I asked.

“What happened to your face?” William asked.

“I fell,” I said.

“How much did you have to drink before you ‘fell’?” William cracked.

“Unfortunately, nothing,” I said. Once we were alone in his office, I shut his door. “Did you get my text or email?” I asked.

“I was out East,” William said. “I had terrible service. What is so important that it can’t wait until I get settled in?”

I told William exactly what I’d heard on Saturday morning. William made me repeat the story three times before asking me if I’d gotten a glimpse of the two men attached to the voices. “I didn’t,” I said, helplessly. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” William said. “I can pretty much bet my life on who it was. They’re bringing in an editor at large, to help us restrategize. I didn’t buy it for a second that this guy would just be ‘consulting.’ I’ve had my contacts good and ready to go in case he ends up taking my job.”

“But,” I said. “Where are you going to go?”

“Back to an agency,” William said. “Literary division. It’s better there, Josie. You work with all different departments—TV, film, branding. You think beyond just books. You package talent. That’s where the money’s at. That’s where the future’s at.”

“Can I go with you?”

William laughed. “Not if you’re wearing an eye patch.”

“I’m serious,” I said. “You’re going to need an assistant. Why wouldn’t you just bring me with you and then you can avoid re-training someone?”

“Josie,” William said. “I would gladly take you with me. But I don’t have another job yet. Are you really going to quit when I quit, with no guarantee?”

“Well,” I said. “How long would it take you to find another job?”

William shrugged. “It could be a month, it could be a year. I’m in a position, financially, to wait. You, my dear, are not.”

“I have that $25,000 from the show,” I said. “And some royalties from the book. It’s not much, but I could bartend or something, somewhere, until something comes through for you.”

William folded his arms across your chest. “You really want to go with me if I leave, don’t you?”

I did. I think William is one of the most forward-thinking bosses I’ve ever met. I compare him to the other editors, like Kate’s boss, and the difference is that William thinks big. He’s not content to just settle for a book deal—he wants more opportunity for his writers than that. And I needed to put myself in a position with growth potential. Staying in a books-centric industry, at a time when print was on its way out, wasn’t very smart. If I went to a Talent and Literary Agency, my focus would still be books, but I would get to learn about other mediums, like TV, that weren’t going away any time soon.

“Let’s do this,” William said. “Just hang on here, for now. There’s no reason for you to quit your job just because I’m planning to. When I find something, then I’ll poach you from this place.”

“But aren’t they going to fire me if you quit any way?”

William shrugged. “They might. Or you’ll be the new guy’s assistant. Even if they do fire you, at least you’ll get some severance.”

William had a point. “Will you give me your word that whenever you get a new job, I’ll be your assistant?”

William stuck his hand out. “You have my word.” We shook on it.

The next morning, I went back to the hospital to have my stitches removed. I wore my favorite LBD and peep toe booties for the occasion, so I was very disappointed when the doctor who entered the room was not my beautiful knight in shining scrubs.

His name was Dr. Gellington and he was ancient with long nose hairs. “Where’s Dr. Ahmad?” I asked, but Dr. Gellington just shrugged.

Dr. Gellington said I was healing ‘nicely’ as he snipped my stitches. Then he told me to apply Vitamin E oil to the area to avoid scarring. I thanked him and gathered my things to go.

I was rounding the corner when I practically ran into Dr. Ahmad.

“Sorry about that!” he said, at the same time I exclaimed, “Dr. Ahmad!”

Dr. Ahmad furrowed his brow and stared at me. “I’m sorry. Remind me of your name again.”

“Josie,” I said. “I was here on Friday night.” I pointed to my eyebrow. “Fell down the subway stairs.”

Dr. Ahmad snapped his fingers. “Right. Right. Looks like you’re healing nicely.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“Well,” Dr. Ahmad said. “Have a nice day.”

He turned on the heel of his white sneaker. Something in me was not okay with never seeing Dr. Ahmad again, and before I even had a chance to doubt myself, I was saying, “Wait!”

Dr. Ahmad turned around and faced me again. He looked like he was in a hurry, so I said, quickly, “Um, would you ever want to get a drink or coffee or something?”

I don’t think I’ve ever asked out a guy before. Ever. I mean, I’ve asked a guy to hang out after we’ve hooked up. But I’ve never cold hit on a handsome doctor in my grown up life.

Dr. Ahmad’s eyebrows jumped halfway up his forehead, and for a second I thought he was going to turn me down. But then he said, “Sure. Do you have a card or something?”

With shaking hands, I dug around in my purse and located my business card. I handed it to Dr. Ahmad, who glanced at it briefly. “I’ll call you,” he said. Then he smiled, revealing a row of teeth so perfect, they were clearly no stranger to Crest White Strips.

I practically skipped out of the hospital. An exciting new job and a date with a doctor—and I had my ‘fall’ to thank for both.

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