Dan Schaumann

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The Cytogeneticist

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February 12th, 2012 Posted 9:51 pm

The date was set. Almost six weeks after responding to her ad in the lonely hearts section and countless eager emails later, their meeting had finally been arranged.

He was anxious to find out more about this beauty, a rare speck of gold in an otherwise perpetual congregation of dust.

He couldn’t stop staring at her photo – the one that accentuated her slightly boyish features against devilish femininity. The inked emblem just below her shoulder had him intrigued. The photographer’s choice of angle left much to the imagination. Was it an anchor? A hook? Perhaps a spear? The silver bracelet against her right wrist faded into a mysterious shadow, meeting with the slender fingers of her left hand. Her left arm lay across the silken bedsheets, strategically positioned in a way that hindered the lower view of her necklace and what may otherwise have been classed as a highly suggestive cleavage. Her deep blue eyes stared into his as he imagined how it would feel to hold her and gently brush against her rose lips for the first time.

So far they had only exchanged sentiments in written form, but he yearned to hear her voice. Would it be high-pitched and womanlike, or deep and powerful as per her virile appearance? He was desperate to find out.

She lived only a few miles away from him and had spent the majority of her childhood in this southern London district. She was as captivated by his upbringing in a tropical antipodean climate as he was of hers in cold and wintry surroundings. He thought it cute how she named her puppy after Gonzo, the big-nosed blue character from the Muppets, and he loved the way she hinted how they may one day lay beneath warm covers watching romantic films together. Although his interest in said genre was normally lacking, he honestly couldn’t wait to spend such a night in with his newfound flame.

Above all, the most attractive feature he saw in her was that she was studying cytogenetics.

They had opted to meet for brunch on Monday. With a long weekend in front of him, he spent his Saturday shopping for a new outfit, settling on a pair of bootcut jeans and a dark but elegant shirt to match. He perused a few stores in the hope of finding a small gift to offer his date, but he wasn’t able to find inspiration on this occasion. He decided it best to instead purchase something fresh for her on the morning they were due to share their meal.

Sunday afternoon greeted him with enthusiastic nervousness as he prepared a brief but bright text message confirming their arrangement the following day. He suggested a cosy Croydon cafe he’d attended a few weeks prior and offered a meeting time of 11am. He pressed ‘send’ and he waited excitedly for her response.

He waited some more.

An hour passed, then two. Nothing.

As the day turned to dusk he considered drafting a follow-up message. Could she have cold feet? Perhaps she needed some extra reassurance that this was the right thing to do? He almost felt it appropriate to call, but he didn’t wish to spoil the one and only chance they had of hearing each others voices as well as laying eyes on one another for the first time. Every moment spent without her confirmation only added to his concerned anticipation. By the time dusk turned to night he was sure this whole idea was set to be yet another failure.

Eventually, he heard the familiar beep of his phone and rushed over to check if it was from her.

“Hey hun. So sorry it’s taken so long to reply, but I was rushed to hospital today with kidney pains. I’m drugged up and lonely at the moment, I wish you were here with me. Can we reschedule tomorrow? I’m just not sure when I’ll be able to leave here. Sorry again x”

Shocked at this medical revelation, he replied the only way he knew how.

“That sounds awful honey, I’m so sorry to hear. Are you ok? I wish I could be there for you. I was thinking though, there’s no reason why we still can’t meet tomorrow. How would you feel about having our date by your hospital bed?”

At 11:00 the next morning, he boarded the bus that would lead him to her hospital.

The automatic doors unmasked a reception area reeking of lifelessness and sterility; an ironic observation considering the life-giving function of the venue he was visiting. He made his way to the hospital gift shop, settling upon the brightest box of chocolates he could find, in amongst the disheartening condolence cards, sympathy flowers and personal hygiene accessories. He walked for what seemed like an eternity along a maze of pale green corridors, venturing past wards full of people suffering from all kinds of ailments, and occasionally making way for nurses wheeling distressed patients on their blood-stained bed trolleys.

He reached the division he was looking for and enquired with the head nurse as to where he could locate his companion. She pointed out the general direction of the ward in question, wrongly assuming he knew exactly who it was he was about to visit. Entering the heavily disinfected room, he slowly peered around the curtains of each of the bedspaces until her dreary and drug-fuelled eyes recognised his. Almost six weeks after responding to her ad in the lonely hearts section, they met for the first time at the gynaecology unit of Carshalton hospital.

She lay limp and sullen, her facial features a far cry from the photo he spent much of the past month dreaming of. Her soft, raspy voice lisped hello as she struggled to remain focused on the moment. She declined his offer of a chocolate as he placed the box onto her bedside table, suggesting rather that he savour one on her behalf. He pitied her current state as he unwrapped the turkish delight, surveying this highly compromising situation he had somehow found himself in. She began explaining how she came down with major abdominal cramps early the previous day, but digressed halfway to instead describe the pain she felt in her knuckles, upon recently discovering her ex-fiancé seducing another man in their bed. She had punched a brick wall with all her furious might to release her anger, and in the process, shattered all the bones in her hand. Between her knuckles, her kidneys, and her medicated frame of mind, she appeared entirely oblivious to the fact that this was their inaugural encounter together.

It took another hour of inebriated communication and the insertion of a catheter to drain her fluids before she sorely walked with him to the exit, drip stand lagging behind.

They hugged goodbye… and they never saw each other again.


Many years have since passed, and every now and then he reflects upon that fateful morning beside her hospital bed.

Imagine how different life would have been if he’d married a cytogeneticist.

This is a true story. It happened in November 2008. I was so bewildered by the situation that I don’t actually remember much of the conversation we had by the bed – aside from the description of how she broke her hand. I know she got out of hospital a few days later but I felt so awkward that I just couldn’t go through with the prospect of seeing her again. I regret that now.

Anyway, it does make me wonder what kind of other crazy first (or last) dates people have been on? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your experiences.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012 at 9:51 pm and is filed under Blog, Dating, Short Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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