The break room is a funny place. It's supposed to let you get away from all the noise and crazy of the hospital for a few minutes, but the trouble is that it's always full of doctors, and in some ways they're even worse than the patients.
With patients, you're never at a loss for things to say. If there's an awkward silence with a patient, you can always ask them how they're feeling, or whether they've got any questions about the treatment, or what their stance is on rectal thermometers.
With doctors, you never want to ask them about work, because that's what they're trying to get away from, and you don't want to ask about their lives, because they're doctors, so their lives are either a complete mess or much, much better than yours in every conceivable way.
Nurse Lauren is sitting over there at the table, and it might look like she's reading, not even remotely aware of me sitting on the couch two feet away from her, but I know she's just waiting for me to break the silence with something witty. "So how are your patients?"
She doesn't look up. I'm about to hit her with my devastating follow-up line ("Mine are good. Except Mr. Thomas, he's having some intestinal issues.") when Dr. Cox barges in.
"Alright, girls and ...girl, listen up because I'm only going to say this once. I am on my break, Days Of Our Lives is on, and for the next --" he makes a show of checking his watch, "-- fifteen minutes, there will be no talking."
He doesn't even order me to get off the couch. He just pretends I'm not there and flops down with his feet in my lap.
I don't think Dr. Cox even likes Days Of Our Lives. I think he just pretends to be really into it so that he can have an excuse not to talk to anyone in the break room. Just like how sometimes when I walk into a room, he pretends to be asleep, even when he's actually standing up and in the middle of talking to a patient.
I should --
"I hope you realize, Newbie, that the only reason my feet are where they are is so that it will be easier for me to kick you in the mouth should you make the mistake of breaking the 'No Talking' rule."
"I give really good foot massages," I say.
He pulls his eyes away from the TV to look at me.
"They've been known to induce footgasms."
Holds the look for a minute... and back to the TV. "Alright, Lola, here's the deal. I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that, and you're going to get to work."
"Back to work? But I still have ten more --"
"No talking," he says again, and lifts one foot up a little. For a second I think he's going to kick me -- not the face! -- and then I get that oh my god he wants me to touch him.
Okay. I can do this. Remember: footgasms. Oh my god don't think about footgasms. Orgasms. Any kind of gasms. "You'll have to take your --"
He shoots me a glare. It's not just any glare, either, it's an If I Have To Say 'No Talking' One More Time, And In Doing So Miss Finding Out Whether The Father Of Erica's Baby Is Josh Or JR, Then So Help Me, Lillian, You Will Not Live To Regret It Longer Than Fifteen Minutes glare. He's going with 'L' names today.
I've already got his shoes off before he's finished with the glare. Dr. Cox's feet smell like he's been on them all day, but at least his toes aren't hairy like mine.
I wonder if it would be possible to get my toe hair transplanted to my chest.
I'm still thinking about that while my hands do their thing -- what if something went wrong with the transplant, and I got a whole foot growing out of my chest? I could kick people with my upper body -- when Dr. Cox makes a little, "Hm," noise. And then a... like a sigh, almost, but rougher and manlier and Dr. Coxier.
Alright. Time to hit him with the time-honored Under-Arch Sweep.
"Oh," he sighs. And that one was definitely a sigh. Oh yes. I have the Magic Touch. None can resist my supple fingers and firm thumb-thrusts. Dr. Cox is making noises like a... like a doctor with sore feet, gettin' a damn good foot massage. Screw Erica's baby, he's not even watching Days Of Our Lives anymore. His eyes are half-closed.
In the background, Lauren closes her book, stares for a second, then gets up and leaves. Oh yes. I am good. I am king of my break's been over for ten minutes! Run, JD, run! No time to put the shoes back on! No time to crash into the Janitor! Go!
The next day, I'm walking past the break room when I hear The Whistle. Dr. Cox is on the couch. All I can see of him's one sneaker, which he gives a little wave. "Get to work, Newbie."
How did he even see me? "I- I'm just on my way to lunch, Dr. Cox, but --" Louder, shriller The Whistle. "Ow, okay! Just --"
He lifts his legs up so I can sit down. "Days Of Our Lives. No talking." I sigh and take a seat. "No sighing, either, Mirabelle."
There goes lunch break. Curse my magic fingers!
Dr. Cox turns the volume on the TV up a few notches, and I start untying his laces. I try to imagine him forgetting to tie them up again later, and then tripping and me catching him, but instead I imagine me falling and the Janitor catching me, only to pick me up by my legs and use me as a mop.
Wait, that wasn't a fantasy. That happened, yesterday. I begged him to stop, and he said he didn't speak Mop.
"Now, this may come as a bit of a shock, Marianne, but everyone in this hospital -- except, apparently, you -- has to work, all day long, rather than stand around and daydream about the new boy in class and his roguish good looks, so why don't you hurry it up there a little, if it's not too much trouble?"
"Apparently you misunderstood. Yesterday, when I said there was to be no talking during my break, I was speaking to the attractive nurse who was desperately ignoring you. For you, there is to be no talking at any time, ever."
Jerk. He doesn't deserve to be touched by these hands. I'd get up and leave if I weren't terrified of being kicked in the face.
I guess sometimes when you can't think of anything to say, the best thing is just not to say anything at all. "So, what's your stance on rectal thermometers?"