Roadkill

Somewhere in my mid-twenties, a handful of years into graduate schooling, with a series of rotating apartments and a persistently ring-less finger, my dad and his best friend, Lynn, began referring to my boyfriends as “Roadkill.” I wasn’t particularly promiscuous, but inching up on 30, the sheer numbers of boys who would never be my husband got, well… numerous. More often than not, I was the one who was bored, disillusioned, or unfaithful (sorry, boys) and the one to call it quits. Thus, Roadkill.

Ty was my neighbor and probably one of my closest buddies during senior year of high school. He will always be one of the funniest people I have ever known. Carpooling to school through rural neighborhoods we once saw a horse do a yawn-whinny thing that we imitated often and at impromptu times. It was only hilarious to the two of us. “Are you cereal?” he’d ask. “Not nece-celery,” was the answer. He loved The Grateful Dead, so my Julie Andrews covers were deliciously irritating (to him) and entertaining (to me): Roooolll A-Wheyyyy the Doooo! Do you have that one friend who makes you laugh at nothing—a Jerry Seinfeld with a Pez dispenser? That was Ty for me.

Ty and I spent many bellyaching, laughing-too-hard-to-breathe nights together. Chastely. We were truly just friends. But you can imagine how well Ty went over with The Roadkill. One summer night I brought a new boy home. Ty was over for dinner, which was common. Wine was flowing, which was really common. And everyone was making fun of each other, which is in the Stockton Family Syllabus. Future Roadkill misread the room– or was too thin skinned– and got a little territorial about being the boyfriend (with its implied set of privileges) instead of the friend. Ty didn’t miss a beat.

“Whatever, dude. Next year Britt will be with some other guy, but I’ll still… be… right… here.”

Roadkill was the only one who didn’t find this funny. He didn’t last very long. The next one did, but even he ended up smeared all over the grille. Those were Lynn’s words as he and Judy poured me the tallest and tastiest vodka tonic I’ve ever had, and listened to my latest misadventures in love. After that break up, I drove 7 hours to see them, their daughter, and to languish ring-less-ly on the deck of their gorgeous beach house… and to laugh.

I met Bernie just a few months later.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day, these memories shifted to the top of my mind like the big popcorn pieces when you shake the bucket. Suddenly I’m aware of Great Loves in my life who never gave me flowers or chocolates or rings, but made me pee-a-little giggle and poured me gigantic cocktails as I plowed through the dating years that led me to the best one.

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Ty and me on my 21st birthday. Can’t imagine why all the Roadkill hated him.

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Girlfriend, MD… or better reasons you want to date a doc

Recently, the most lukewarm endorsement of female physician data-ability went bloggy viral. I have more than eight reasons why this post is disappointing, and only one is that the author referred to herself and her smart, sassy co-workers as “us female physicians…” who pretend to be dental hygienists or flight attendants to seem more fuckable less intimidating. There are at least eight violations of grammar and style in this ineffectual call for suitors which paints my working sisters-in-scrubs as life-saving multi-taskers with “good personalities.” Blech.

What does a man like more than eight reasons he should date you? Everything. He likes everything more. Admit you’re a surgeon, and buy him a beer. Go on with your Dansko-clogged, low-maintenance bad self and express that financial viability! If a man isn’t dating you because you are a surgeon, that’s not the reason he’s not dating you. It’s more likely the clogs… or your inability to use pronouns correctly.

Smart girls don’t fudge being smart (or make boring lists). The badass, wonderful women physicians in my world could give you a better peek at the perks associated with their company. Just a few listed here… because boys (or girls) you want to date don’t need a long list detailing your awesomeness.

She’s a Portable Emergency Department

Odds are, she has an arsenal of stitch-you-up or glue-that-back tools at her disposal. She has sutures and fine forceps and bandages of every single size. She’s toting Tegaderm in her Tory Burch. When the kids (dads) attempt to pop helium balloons stuck above the foyer using a sharp pencil and the stomp rocket… well, she’s got the instruments to handle the fallout of that sort of genius. She’ll know if Uncle Jason’s chest pain is pepperoni-induced or 911-worthy. She can administer flu shots and read your TB test. She knows if that needs ice or heat or stitches or antibiotics. She’ll save you untold hours wasted in waiting rooms with bleeding strangers, blaring soap operas, and MRSA.

She’s Cool

If your gal has worked the emergency room, she is unfazed by anything oozing from an orifice. She has more than one unlikely-object-stuck-up-a-butt story. She’s heard the basest, unkindest, most unimaginative forms of chauvinism and knows which response will work best (ignore, chastise, mock, or flirt). She’s seen every movie you have because she’s been dating Star Wars-obsessed nerds like you since Organic Chemistry. She honestly doesn’t know anything about Kardashians. And she spends many, many hours with man-crush-worthy big, swinging dick surgeons who think she’s great.

She’s Busy

Your physician girlfriend won’t be texting you at all hours. She’ll totally forget it’s Valentine’s Day. She’s unlikely to insist on cutesy month anniversaries, or apple-picking afternoons, or meeting your family. She’s too exhausted and busy and pre-occupied with life-saving tasks to engage in typical dating misadventures that plague girls with more free time. She doesn’t give a fig if she’s your official, Facebook girlfriend… and wonders who has time for that crap… and can’t remember her password, anyway. She also brings her Type A game to working out, and when she’s not on call, she’s not wondering when you will. She’s running her marathon-training ass all over town.

Don’t you want to date her now? These qualities flourish in the women physicians I know. They’re smart and lovely and busy and cool and competent and so much more than their jobs. I was irritated by their portrayal in a tepid list of eight endorsements that could easily apply to your dad (if your dad knew CPR). Where is the justified bravado of the female physician? She’s earned it, and with enough sleep, she’s too clever to trick you into thinking she’s not. She also recognizes the skill and power and fabulousness of her sisters, especially the dental hygienists and flight attendants who are clearly getting more action than she is.

Now run along and find yourself a Girlfriend, MD. Or tell me I’ve got it all wrong because the female physician you knew quit work right after she had kids and now buys really expensive shoes and makes fun of women doctors who wear pantsuits.

Oh… wait.

She's totally hot underneath that sexy mask.

She’s totally hot underneath that sexy mask.

Dating, by Steve Safran

Steve is dating: a process brimming with the potential for family flare-ups, justified teenager defiance, logistical scheduling difficulties, and the unmistakable solicitation of help from a Higher Power.

Oh God, dating.

Yes, the subject causes me to invoke the name of Britt’s beloved deity.

This is not another a Dating Is Hard essay. We all know that, so stop with the complaining. Dating should be hard. If dating were easy, we’d never go to work. We’d be too busy making reservations. No– dating should be difficult. You’re looking for a match, and that’s tough to find. Post-divorce dating carries the added struggle of comparing the new girl to the ex, which although unavoidable, is unfair.

I won’t whine about the difficulties of meeting single women, either. Thanks to the web, it is insanely easy to meet women. (Or men, or your same gender, or whatever inspires a 6pm shave and the good cologne.) Where was this wonderful tool when I was 20? It remains difficult as ever to find a match, but at least there’s a digital icebreaker now. Although I will say the questionnaire is a bitch, and my humor translates poorly to a Match.com profile. (Example: What are you looking for in a mate? “Someone with exceedingly low expectations.”)

Instead, this dating discussion is about the kids. When I date someone now, I date her kids; she dates mine. It’s Brady Bunch Dating. It’s speed-relationship-ing. (“The kids are at a dance. I have one hour now. Bring some popcorn and a very short film.”) If you have x kids and your date has x ± 1 kids, you have a geometric relationship with multiple variables and exponential difficulties. (Something like that. It’s a metaphor, so calm down, math majors.)

In baseball, if you can hit the ball four times out of ten, you’re a God. In the more than 125 years of professional baseball, it’s only been done once over an entire season. But even if you’re the Ted Williams of relationships, at least two of the kids are going to hate each other. Or everyone (especially if they’re teens). Or you. Probably you.

So you and the significant other (will someone please come up with a better term?) have an automatic handicap. It’s a given that some fraction of the kids is going to be displeased with the situation. That’s OK. You expected this shifting Venn diagram illustrating the get-along-ness of your brood with hers. So what do you do? Occasionally you think it might be easier to forego adult company for the next decade. But that seems lonely, if more affordable. You can live with the kids’ protestations, knowing The Divorce was bound to have repercussions past the logistics of who sleeps where. So you proceed with good intentions, encourage your mate to do the same, and hope you don’t cause more problems for the kids than you already have.

Which, of course… you will. I don’t know.

Oh, God.

An entire post could be made of Venn diagrams...

A math image seemed apropos. Drawing my own to illustrate divorced dating logistics did not.