There’s a lot going on with the doctor in the Doris Diaries. If you’ve been following along in 1929 while Doris is still in high school, but is already 19 (she missed a lot of school because of her illnesses), she has an ongoing flirtation with the intern who she met when she was in the hospital. She goes to visit him in his office, and they flirt some more. It’s ongoing, and harmless. Or is it? (Remember, this is a true story, from Doris’s perspective. No way to prove or disprove what happened here. It’s what the diary says.) Please post to Facebook or Twitter what you think so far.
Saturday, April 20
Dr. Pochert, circa 1929
Oh! My gosh! Another red letter day in my life. And I love him. I know I do. I took an exam this morning, then to a show with Ruth, and then – to see my darling, oh so darling Dr. Pochert. I went in and he smiled and took my hands and looked down at me and said, “How’s my little girl?” And then we sat down and he looks so damned sweet and glad to see me. And I told him I’d been good since I’d been there. And he said he was glad. He said he’d worried because I hadn’t come. Afraid that I didn’t like him because of the lecture he gave me last time. He also said that he received a call late one night and chased all over in the country in the rain, frantic, afraid that I was in trouble. I told him about Dr. Khiel, too, and he got mad and his eyes snapped and he said for me not to go and see him anymore, that some doctors were that way but that it was awful.
And I said, “You wouldn’t act like that, would you?” And he blushed and looked embarrassed and looked into my eyes and said, “You wouldn’t like it, would you?” And I wanted to scream, “Yes, yes, yes, I’d love it.” But instead I said no, I wouldn’t come anymore. Damn fool me. And he said, “That settles it. I won’t.”
Doris Bailey, circa 1929
Then we talked about various things and before I realized it, it was 10 minutes of six. And he said he’d drive me home, clear home. And I said no, he couldn’t do that. And he said, “Why not?” I allowed I allowed these other doctors privileges. I could give him this little one. And what could I say. So we went down stairs and he had the prettiest new blue Essex and was so boyishly proud of it. Bless his heart.
And he saying what a privilege it was for me to let him drive me home. We were talking about my coming over so seldom and I said, “You know you wouldn’t like it if I came every week. Be truthful.” And he looked at me and said, “Yes, I would like it.” And I said, “But you’d be bored, and it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” And he said, “Oh, so that’s why you come – for a variety. I’m a break in the monotony.” And I said, “No, I come because I like you.” And then we were talking about my never having flirted with him, or tried to “get him” and I said, “I wonder what would happen if I did.” And he said, “You’d better not try. There is no telling where it would and.” And then he said, “Why haven’t you ever tried? Is it because you don’t want to break up a happy home, or don’t I thrill you like another boy would? Is it just that I seem like
an old man to you?” (Now why should he say that if he didn’t want me to encourage him. He did, I know now. But at the time I didn’t. If I had only said, you are married and so I couldn’t let myself take that attitude and then he would have said “pretend I’m not married.”)
But I was a fool. And merely said, “No, it’s just that you haven’t had the chance to be thrilling.” And he said, “You’d better not give it to me, you might discover that I’m dynamite under control.” And again if I had only said, “All right I don’t believe it, and I’ll give you a chance.” Then he would have kissed me. I could kick myself, to let a chance like that slip by. Oh! I’m a fool.
“You might discover that I’m dynamite under control”
Then I asked him what he really thought of me and he said, “I think you’re a good sport and I think if I had met you before I was married and we had gone out together, we would’ve had a good time, and it would have been an out and out love affair.”
We kept it up, that kind of banter all the way home. The first time we’ve ever talked that way. And I might have had my heart’s desire – his arms and his kiss – if I hadn’t been so damned slow-witted and dumn. I’ll never have the same opportunity again. Never! And I love him. Gee whiz, how I love him. I paced the floor when I got back. I couldn’t hold myself in. I still want to scream and shriek. I want him. Oh God. How I want him, and I might have had him. Except for my dumbness. Oh damn, damn, damn. He thinks now that I think he’s just a man and that I’m not interested and etc. and I love him – oh my gosh how I love him.”
* * *
Schoolgirl crush? Inappropriate flirting between a schoolgirl and a married man? Inappropriate relationship between a doctor and patient? Or D, all of the above?
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward.
Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others.
Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.
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