Wednesday, 5 October 2011

My First Ob/Gyn (New York Stories 1)

   A stopover in New York is now on my itinerary before travelling to Los Angeles. It always conjures up in my mind my first time there. The city that never sleeps was the destination for my gap year, although in my case I think it should have been called a fill year. I loved it from the moment I arrived and took it all in from the helicopter shuttle that picked me up at Kennedy.
  It didn't take long for me to find him, or rather him to find me. He was, of course, a lot older than me, good looking in an academic sort of way, with a charming bedside manner. He had an office in Riverdale but worked mainly through one of the uptown West Side hospitals. Within days he had installed me in an apartment in the low seventies a couple of blocks from Central Park. I was naive, if not innocent. He showed me round his home town while I let him explore, well, lets just say the temples in the citadel of my mind (mostly unadorned sites of worship in that era). 
  We spent some glorious days that late summer and autumn in the Hamptons where he had the use of a beautiful beach house in Southampton. I particularly liked going up to the lighthouse at Montauk Point and surfing the ocean rollers nearby. Now you can fly out but then it was a tedious drive. To amuse me he lectured me on my oxytocin levels (going through the roof most of the time) and taught me a thing or two about Kegel exercises, which I put into practice only too well. 
  By the time winter arrived he had separated and invited me to join him in his house in Riverdale. Big mistake! It seems I was to be the wife substitute. That was not in my plans. An ob/gyn has just about the best job in the world for playing away. His beeper can go anytime 24/7 and, duty calls, he is off to see an expectant mother, to deliver a baby or, as when I was on the Upper East Side, to attend to me! But in Riverdale, the boot was on the other foot (ugly expression in the circumstances -- why does it bring to mind someone with their feet in the stirrups in his office?) and he would disappear into the night. I am sure his secretary was complicit in his nocturnal adventures. She had, after all, known all about me.
  I was working on a political campaign and found I had little time to appreciate exactly how inattentive he had become. Then one night in a restaurant, I watched him pull apart a lobster, his chicken of the sea, with his bare hands. With a dawning horror. What had he been pulling apart earlier that day in his office, in the delivery room, or the OR? Where had those stubby fingers been? One thing for sure, I decided there and then they would never come close to me again. The next day I moved out and started hanging with some Barnard girls, feeling altogether relieved that I had escaped heart whole with just a salutary lesson to remember.   

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