Friday, December 12, 2014

Chapter 11, part 2: Ride

Friday morning I sat out by the curb in front of Warner Hall, waiting for Ian.  He pulled up in his beat up brown monster truck and jumped out to walk around and open the passenger side door for me.  He wore stained grey sweats and an unbuttoned grungy plaid flannel shirt-jacket.  A hairy belly stuck out below the torn undershirt.  His face was stubbly, his white blond hair matted and sticking out in all directions.  

“Ready?”  He wove his hands together to make a step.  “I’ll help you up.”

I wrinkled my nose as I climbed past him into the car.

“Sorry about the way I look.” He sniffed his pits and exhaled sharply.  “Whew! And smell.  This morning I got up early to pray, then lost track of time.  All of a sudden, God was like, ‘Uh, Ian, aren’t you forgetting something?’ and whoa, two hours had gone by without me noticing. It was either shower and shave, or get you to your appointment on time.  We can roll down the windows if you want.”

“No, that’s OK,” I said, but was relieved when he ignored me and cracked them a bit anyway.

The trip to the dentist office took only a few minutes. I didn’t have the energy to make small talk, and Ian seemed content to drive in silence.

When we got there, Ian took off his coat and found a seat in the lobby while I signed in at the receptionist window.  The smell was even stronger without the jacket.

“You don’t have to wait,” I said as I walked toward him and sat down a few seats away.  “I don’t know how long this will take.  I could have them call you when I’m ready to be picked up.”

“Not a problem, don’t mind waiting.  I don’t have Friday classes anyway.  Besides, it wouldn’t be right to leave you here all alone.”

“You could probably go home to freshen up and be back before I’m done.”

“Whoa, I can take a hint.   Is it really that bad?  I’m so ashamed!”  He hung his head and covered his face in an exaggerated display of humiliation.

I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not.  Even if he was a weird slob, I would feel terrible if I had hurt his feelings.  I reached out to touch one of his hairy arms.  The hair was surprisingly soft, his arm muscular. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”

He looked up and winked.  “Aw, you’re so sweet.  Don’t take things so literally, Gigi.  I’ve got thicker skin than that.”  

A petite woman in purple scrubs opened the door to the waiting area.  “Miss Gottlieb? We’re ready for you.”

I hesitated and looked at Ian.

“Don’t be scared.  You’ll be fine.  I’ll be praying for you, Gigi.”

They used local anesthetic rather than put me under all the way for this surgery.  With the pain temporarily gone, the muscles in my jaw relaxed some, at least enough for the dentist to force my mouth wide enough for his instruments to fit.  Although it didn’t hurt, it was still excruciating to feel the pressure and hear every noise as they cut open and irrigated the back of my mouth.  Thankfully, it didn’t take very long.

“All right, Miss Gottlieb.  That should do it.  You may return to the lobby.  I’ll be out in a moment to discuss my findings.”

Ian sat reading a Bible.  He had changed into clean jeans and a black turtleneck.  His hair was wet and slicked back, his face clean shaven.  The cologne or aftershave reminded me of Quan on prom night.  He still wasn’t exactly my type, but I could see how some girls would find him attractive.

“Hey, you clean up good,” I said.

He looked up, surprised.  “How did it go?”

Before I could answer, the dentist came out.

“Would you and your friend like to come back to my office?”

Ian jumped up and held the door for both of us, and looked at me questioningly.  I shook my head to indicate he should stay behind.  Alone, I followed Dr. Foster down a narrow hall.  Hopefully he had good news.  This could be the turning point.  
“Miss Gottlieb, I have some good news and some bad news,” he said as we settled in.  “The good news is that your wisdom tooth wounds were healing nicely, and had no debris in them.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”  That meant whatever was going on, it wasn’t my fault, even if I had missed a few swishes here and there.

“The bad news is that leaves us without an answer.  We still don’t know what could be causing your mass or the fever.  This case appears to be beyond my expertise.  I’d like to refer you to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist, Dr. Curtis in Avondale.  He’s amazing at what he does.”  

I scheduled the appointment with Dr. Curtis for the following Friday.  Ian picked me up in front of Warner again, freshly showered this time from the look of his wet hair, clean-shaven face and the alluring scent of his cologne.  Wait, did I just call Ian alluring?

I had been thinking of him a lot in the past week.  It took my mind off worrying about my health.  How kind he was to stay and wait for me during my surgery.  How spiritual he was to get up early to pray and get so involved in a conversation with God that he’d lose track of time.  Suddenly his extra pounds and crooked teeth didn’t seem to matter so much.  

Maybe I’d had so much trouble getting boyfriends in the past because I was setting my sights on the wrong type of guy?  That guy Brad, and even Ewan and Rhys were out of my league.  I’d never considered Quan either until he confessed his everlasting like for me, and that turned out pretty well.  At least until his parents made him dump me.

“Did you do anything for Halloween?” I asked him when we pulled onto Interstate 70.

“With all our reading through the Old Testament, I got to thinking about why we celebrate so many secular holidays,” he said.  “So I did some research and decided to celebrate only Biblical ones.”

“What do you mean by Biblical holidays?  Like Christmas and Easter?”

“No, no.  First of all, Jesus probably wasn’t born on Christmas at all.”

“He wasn’t?”

“Think about it.  John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus, right?”

“That sounds right.”

“And we know approximately when John the Baptist was born,” he said.  He quoted from the story in Luke and explained how the Hebrew calendar lined up with ours.  “So, add nine months to that, and you know what month old Johnny was born.  Six months from that puts Jesus’ birthday in the fall some time.  One cool theory I read said it was likely during Sukkot.”


“The feast of tabernacles.  Jesus is God in flesh, and a tabernacle is a tent.  God tabernacling with us, get it?”

“I’ve never heard this stuff before.  Tell me more.”

Ian was more spiritual than I had imagined.  How did he know so much?  Theology was fascinating to me, and the more he talked about it, the more fascinating he became too.  Maybe when I was feeling better I’d ask Lacey if she thought I would have a chance with him.

I didn’t see Dr. Curtis that visit.  His physician’s assistant took my case history and then sent me for a CT scan to see what was really going on in my neck.  I’d have to go back the next week to get the results and discuss a treatment plan.