Good Narrative Principles

Dove Gray


IMG_1970The problem was that Sherman was wired for intensity. While his medical school classmates complained about the long slog from high school through residency and beyond, Sherman, looking back on it, realized that he had had the time of his life. He missed the undeniable forward momentum of being young. Each step was, in his mind, mission critical, from doing well in AP Bio, acing organic chemistry, the MCATs, to endless cups of coffee during his sleepless internship and fellowship. He barely registered, let alone had time to date the liberal arts girls that seemed to congregate in the gloomy rathskeller.

Naturally, he assumed that his life would continue in this fashion. He envisioned a staff of nurses, smart, efficient, able to anticipate his every need, lining up the next group of patients who waited in paper gowns (cloth cost too much) for his keen insights and diagnostic skills. He promised himself that once he established a successful practice, he’d make time for the finer things in life, like finding a wife and raising kids. He’d take classes in poetry and Greek.

Instead, every day in his office was much like the day before. He wasn’t wired to handle the crushing monotony of his practice, featuring an endless stream of patients who all seemed to be afflicted with identical maladies. Was the adventure over? Had he taken a wrong turn in his life? Should he have accepted a position as a policy wonk in Washington when it was offered to him? He tried his hand at fiction, dating, ceramics but nothing seemed to add a spark of vitality to his now dove gray life.

Desperate to fill up his vacant evenings, he signed up for a stain glass class which might seem like a random choice save for the fact that it was taught at the local high school. He was sick of commuting from his rambling home in the suburbs to the city for what, he would now admit, were pointless diversions. The class was populated with women eager to get to know him; especially once he dropped the “D” bomb (“D” as in doctor). One of them knew a girl, a woman actually. Numbers were exchanged and he went on a date that swiftly turned into two dates then four. They sailed past the dreaded fifth date. And while his practice still lacks luster, his weekend life is full of an intensity that comes not from skydiving or trying his hand at stand up, both of which left him apoplectic, but rather the thrill of finding Calphalon pots on sale at Macy’s.

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