tales of a girl in the city

mars 18, 2005

False Positive

I hung up the phone with the nurse from my doctor's office, having just heard the loveliest three words: "Everything," the kind nurse-lady had said, "was normal."



It was the diagnosis that I knew was coming.

Sort of.

Because--I can admit this now that it's over--there was always that tiny, doubting voice. Afterall, I'm the girl who thinks that the Pentagon may have played a role in replacing her iPod. We all know that I am nothing if not a little...we'll call it creatively neurotic.

So, obviously there was a whispering in my ears over the past few weeks telling me that David was right--that I was responsible for his bumpy-tongued affliction.

Or even worse, that his relentless persistence on the topic was really just his cowardly way of telling me that he'd given me something.

Or even worse than that, that I was the sole vessel of a previously unknown horrific disease that had not only infested David's tongue, but that would also make me swell up and give birth to alien spawn a la that tv mini-series V.

And as much as getting to go on all the talk shows as the world's first mother of alien spawn had it's appeal....

And as much as having some eight-armed extra-terrestrial help around the house might've been nice when it came time to do the dishes....

I was thrilled to finally e-mail David a curt one-liner telling him, ONCE AND FOR ALL, that there was not...and has never been...a polk-a-dot on my puffalump.

But that didn't silence the other small voice that has plagued me since David first started making these accusations.

That voice scratched at wounds that go much deeper and are harder to diagnose.

How could I have so misjudged David?

How could every reading I took of him--every estimation I made of his character, his maturity, his kindness--been so wrong? From beginning to end, my evaluation of him was riddled with false positives. And that bothered me quite a bit.

It was still bothering me, in fact, when I bumped into L, an acquaintance of mine, on Thursday night.

L is the definition of a Good Guy: intelligent, down-to-earth, works in college admissions at an Ivy, which means his job, basically, is to evaluate people. And, though he didn't remember it, he had happened to meet David last summer on the night of our second date.

"God," L said after snort-laughing through the entire story, "that guy had problems."

"Then why did you not tell me that when you met him?" I retorted, hitting L on the shoulder with each word.

"What? I met him? When did I meet him?" L was astonished.

"Last summer. Remember? We were having drinks at Citrus...he stopped in to pick me up. Works at a socially responsible investment group in DC. The two of you talked forever."

"That guy! Crazy-hypochondriac with a bump on his tongue is that guy? You're kidding me."

"That's him."

"You're kidding me. That guy was great. He was smart. In fact, I've actually thought about the conversation he and I had since that night. Christ, Kathryn, he was charming."

"Let's reign in the praise, shall we?"

"Sorry. Wow.... I'm just surprised."

"Well, that makes two of us."

"I mean, that guy was so regular. That's what I left thinking about him, 'What a nice guy.'"

I picked up my drink, surprised by my own relief.

"I mean," L continued, shaking his head, "seriously. I'm great with reading people, and I saw nothing wrong with that one. Wow."

He paused.

"You know, I hope you don't mind me saying this. But, Baby, that one had nothing to do with you."

I held the truth of his words under my tongue for a moment.

There it was. Reassurance from an outside source. A second opinion. Unbiased. Reasonable. Right.

I smiled and nodded.

"I know," I said.

And suddenly...

for real this time...

everything was normal.