Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Art of Meaningless Interactions

Nearly seven years of frequenting the multiple hospital systems of the DC metro area has provided me an insight unknown to many others. Last week I had my first medical procedure of two in total and was reminded again of how freely scrub-garbed nurses converse with their patients. Most react in ways that are almost always highly professional but a few like to toe the line. Viewing it for themselves, significant others might be very jealous, particularly same-sex co-workers who lack the same courage.

The female nurses of one particular hospital system are known for their shamelessly flirtatious behavior. I won't lie and say I don't appreciate being treated like a Greek God every now and again. Sometimes, with enough flattery, I even believe I'm as good looking as the behavior these women insist I must be. That said, the preface to last week's surgical procedure began unexpectedly, usually full of banal questions, but instead with intensely flirtatious conversation. It is the kind that left me a little giddy and light-headed by the end, the sort of sensation that even powerful medication, administered through IV, cannot produce.

If I had to reach for an answer of how I'd define what just happened, I'd think of it as a game of a sort, far more than any meaningful activity that intends to reach a lasting conclusion. The nurses behind their glass covered station are always ready for the next attractive stranger to show up, if only to break the monotony of a ten-hour-shift and changing bedpans. I'm sure such behavior is discouraged by some hospitals and the higher-ups in charge, but apparently this is not the case with everyone. At times, for a maximum of thirty minutes to an hour, I believe myself to be very physically attractive, worthy of the treatment and attention dispensed upon me.

I have to be careful of how I word this sort of exchange and share it with others. Put the wrong way, I seem like a delusional narcissistic consumed with chasing women who obviously see me as gorgeous as I believe myself to be. So I'll say it very differently. I don't think this sort of conduct takes place for my benefit alone, or for anyone's benefit, really. I'm merely the latest interesting trial study. None of this is going anywhere. They know it as well as I do. There was a time where I might have believed otherwise, a time where I was much younger and more naive than I am today. The truth is present as I view the latest exercise in meaningless eye candy walk by the nurse's station directly after me. I view the same look on the same faces of the same nurses once directed my way only a few minutes before.

Waitresses have learned to hone the craft of flirtation to improve their tips. Salegirls did much the same thing a couple generations before ours. The difference here is that I know it's all an act. I am not a wealthy businessman looking for an attractive companion or an escape from reality. But I'll buy the fantasy one more time, because the lie feels so good. We will never meet again, but for a time I'll be the most important person in her life, at least until the pain killers wear off.

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