Postmortem of a House Call (Or, Christmas with the Surgeon)

    It’s been almost eight months since the Surgeon made his House Call.  At first, I didn’t think that it had affected me that much emotionally.  It wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me.  It wasn’t even the worst thing he’d ever done to me.  I was a little shocked, of course, and then very pissed off, and also worried that he might come back and try again.  I think the baby card offended me more than anything. 

      It did seem to provide him with some closure.  He won, he got a little revenge, he could sleep at night feeling that he was the one on top.  And I’m sure the lawyer’s letter and the threat of a restraining order didn’t hurt either.  He is very protective of his practice, and the only thing that he loves more than philandering and fucking people up is making money. 

      So it was finally over. I had to deal with loneliness, but I’m used to that, and I had to grieve the loss of the relationship, which was the most significant one of my adult life.  The House Call, though, I did’t think affected me much.

      I was wrong.

      It sneaked up on me over a period of months, and I’d find myself laying in bed or sitting at my desk in a state of high agitation, outraged at the fact that he really did that to me.  He really did it! 

       And on the heels of that: pain.  Quite a bit of hurt, actually, which is strange, because I really ought to know better.  Nothing about his behavior should surprise me anymore. The Surgeon has some very, shall we say, interesting neuroses and some very interesting sexual proclivities, all of which I am too decent (or, perhaps, too cowardly) to share on this blog, but he is also a man of habit and thoroughly predictable.  He’s an asshole.  He acts like an asshole.  Why should I be hurt that he acted like an asshole towards me?  Because he said that he loved me? 

      Well, yes.  Because he said that he loved me.  I’ve had a lot of emotional labor to do in order to work through that in the last few months.

      Let’s move on.  He made the House Call in September.  Then I got a letter from him in late December, which was right about the time I’d left him for the Mathematician a year earlier (thankfully, I have no feelz for him except for contempt and, I admit, a lingering fascination with his cockatoo-borrowing. That has to be a new low in Things Men Will Do To Impress Girls.  A cockatoo!  Fucker.).

     This is the Surgeon’s letter.  It’s not actually what he wrote–think of it as the Executive Summary.  It’s all over the map.  I think he might have been drunk when he wrote it.  He’s always impulsive and when he drinks, forget about it. 

Dear Miss Margo, 

I feel a little badly about my House Call and what I did.  I hope you realize that I did it because the way that you treated me is unconscionable.  I also wanted to give you a baby.  Our relationship never should have ended.  I have never had this much emotion for anyone in my life.  You need to come back to me and be my girlfriend again.  I think of you every day.  What you have done is not right. I will make a financial commitment and not abandon you.  Even your own mother did not help you, but I did.  Have you ever asked yourself why?  I love you and we are met to be together.

     Who’s the guy you left me for?  Sorry it didn’t work out but I have no idea how you thought you could better-deal me.  Want me to hurt him?  Tell me who he is.

      The Surgeon

     Unconscionable.  He really used that word.  To describe my behavior. 

      I read it to my friend, Drug Monkey, who said, and I quote: “Wow, what a loser.” 

      Professor T-Rex found it sort of pitiful and told me to give it to my lawyer, which I did.

     But since we’re on the subject of unconscionable behavior, let’s revisit the scene of the crime: Christmas, five years previous.

     I was in my Ph.D. program and my relationship with the Surgeon was just over the two-year mark.  It was as serious as it was ever going to get.  He almost destroyed it.

      It was the week leading up to Christmas, which was a very busy time at my University because that school scheduled finals right up until Christmas Eve, which was a nightmare.  I can’t tell you how many times I dropped off a hard copy of my final research assignment or essay en route to the airport for an all-day flight back home.  So, a stressful week. 

      The Surgeon was in a weird mood, too.  He was having staffing problems (he always had staffing problems.  Wonder why?), and then he had to do holiday family shit.  The Surgeon would rather be eaten alive by rabid wolverines than spend time with his family, but he forces himself to do it.  If I hated my family that much, I would just dump them.

     Well, the Surgeon called me and I knew that I was in trouble because I could hear the tension in his voice.  He had a very specific tone of voice that he used when he was dangerous.  I identified it as the “I am under pressure and I am going to fuck you up” tone of voice. He can smile when he talks this way, and even laugh, but I’m telling you, it’s spooky.  Usually when I heard that tone of voice, I just made myself scarce for a few days until it blew over, because that tone of voice meant that someone was going to get it. I just went out for that proverbial pack of cigarettes and stayed gone. 

          The Surgeon had Christmas day off because his practice was closed, and he told me that he wanted to see me.

          “But, Surgeon, I’m flying home on Christmas Eve.”

          “Change the flight.  Leave on the 26th.”

           “Surgeon, I only see my family twice a year now, and you know that my mother is a Christmas fanatic.  My family is expecting me.”

          “But I was planning to see you on the 25th.”

           I knew this was bullshit.  He’d never mentioned any such thing!

          “Surgeon, you’re being unreasonable.  What am I supposed to tell my family?”

         “Tell her that you need to see your boyfriend and you’ll be there on the 26th.”

           “You want me to ruin my mother’s Christmas?  She’s sentimental!”

            “Make it happen,” he said, and hung up the phone.

            I was fucked.  The double bind, the Surgeon’s favorite form of torture.  There was absolutely no way to win in that situation.  My only choice was to pick who I was going to hurt and piss off: my family, or the Surgeon. 

           I was miserable.

           The Surgeon gave me an hour in which to stew in my anxiety and misery, and then called me back.  I didn’t want to take the call, but I had to.

           “Tell me something good,” he said.  Yup, the voice was intense. I felt it with the same foreboding a Kansan ranchwoman feels when tornado clouds assemble on the horizon. 

            “Surgeon, I can’t cancel Christmas!  Come on!  I wouldn’t ask you to do this for me!”

             “Why not?  This is a tremendous disappointment to me.  You are ruining my plans.  Just call your Mom and tell her that you’ll be there on the 26th.”

             He kept at me all…fucking…day.   I do sadism for a living, but I have to tell you, I do not think that I am capable of pressuring someone the way that he was pressuring me.  I was so upset that I was sick to my stomach.  I was trying to finish a final exam, too–so much for that.

           All he wanted was a validation of his power over me.  He just wanted to make me do something that he knew I really didn’t want to do.  He just wanted to see me jump.  It’s no different, really, than the asshole boss who calls you out of the blue on a Saturday night at 10 PM asking for a project status report…only much, much crueler.

        It took most of the day, as well as a panic attack and some hysterical begging on my part not to make me go through with it, but eventually I caved.  I was outgunned.  It was like being at the Alamo.

        I called my Mom and told her that I had a job interview on the morning of the 27th and it was for a last-minute teaching job, and would she mind if I flew in immediately afterward?  I really needed the money from the teaching job, I said.

        (I should have just said, Mom, my fucking awful boyfriend is forcing me to do this, see you on Friday, but I didn’t.  I was ashamed of myself.)

          The disappointment in her voice was palpable, but she said that she understood.

        I called the Surgeon back to tell him what I’d done.

       “That’s great!” he said, and his own demeanor changed.  He was happy and smiling again.  But there was something else I detected in his voice: gloating.

           Then he let me go and said that he’d call me back after his meeting.

         I felt fucking miserable, but at least it was OVER.  At least it got him off my back.

         Or so I thought.

         I still cried a lot that night.  I felt really badly and guilty about the whole thing.

         So, what does he do?  What does the Surgeon do?

         It wasn’t enough.  He needed more

         He fucking called me back the next morning, cheerful and happy.

         “Hi, Baby!  How’s my girl?  Hey, I’m sorry if I was a little tense yesterday.  All that shit at the office, you know.  But, hey, I wanted to tell you…I forgot that I have to pick up my dogs from the dog-sitter on Christmas so that they aren’t here when her family comes over.  I’m going to have to run them out to Long Island, it’s a long drive.  Can we get together on the 26th instead?  That’d be great.”

         I just sat there.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

        “You want me to spend Christmas alone, after I cancelled my family plans, so that you can pick up your dogs from the dog-sitter?”
       “I forgot!” he said.  He didn’t fucking forget.  I could hear it in his voice.  He just wanted to hurt me and humiliate me that much more.  He was enjoying himself.  Like I said, the man is a sadist for real.  Besides, the excuse was proposterous on its face.  He could have paid someone to pick up his dogs.  He could have gotten them the day before.  It made no sense.

          “I’m going home!” I screamed into the phone.  Then I hung up and changed my flights back to Christmas Eve.  It cost me a pretty penny and I had to take the red-eye, too.

          Then I cried a lot.  It really hurt.

           He was furious that I left, but he also knew that he’d gone too far, and he gave me space.  I cut him off for about five months. He never did admit what a cruel and fucked-up thing he did, he only apologized for “being selfish” and he acknowledged that I “saw the situation differently” than he did.

           He knew what he did.  He never fucked with my relationship with my family again. He went too far in other areas, at other times, but he was on his best behavior around Christmas after that.

           For my part, I never saw him the same way after that.  I withdrew emotionally and always treated him with caution after that, like a dangerous dog.  I acknowledged to myself that he was sick and that he would hurt me if I left him.  I also acknowledged to myself that he did not really love me, because he would not have done that if he did.  I started dating other men. 

          Calling me the next morning was premature.  I don’t think that he thought that through.  If he hadn’t been doing his victory-lap jerkoff sadism-fest, he would have figured out that the truly  awful thing to do would be to just abandon me and leave me hanging on Christmas day, when it was too late for me to go home.

           Or come over on Christmas (without so much as a card), fuck me, and leave after twenty minutes.  I think that I’m really lucky that that did not happen to me.  If he thought about it more, that’s what he would have done.

          I am sure that he has done this to another woman–made her compromise her holiday or travel plans, and then leave her hanging.  Probably more than one woman.

         And then he calls me leaving him “unconscionable.”

        And he makes his house call, banging down the door, and I wonder to myself, I can’t believe he did it!  

         Yeah, I can believe it.  I can believe it.

         It still would have been sort of fun, though, to watch him eat the Mathematician for lunch.

4 thoughts on “Postmortem of a House Call (Or, Christmas with the Surgeon)”

  1. Hmmmmm. So much to comment on here. So many ways of interpreting this morality tale.

    One thing that stands out is how manipulative the man is. Some think that manipulative people are clever and powerful. They aren’t. Manipulation, mind-fucking, jerking others around….whatever you want to call it, is the speciality of the weak.

    And I’m sorry to say this, but the man is weak, and a coward. There are only two reasons why he appears strong and powerful – his position in the medical hierarchy (which I’m sure he deserves) and his money. Strip those away, and he’s just another emperor with no clothes on.

    1. If I told my brother about the House Call, my brother would fly out here, knee-cap him, and immediately fly back home. It won’t ever happen, but it gives me comfort to know that it COULD.

      Re: the police–don’t need the scandal or to make him an enemy. Too dangerous.

      He miiiiiiiiight get busted for drunk driving one day. Or stealing someone’s intellectual work. If his residents only knew that it was I who edited some of their manuscripts, and not the famous Surgeon. My credentials are in the social sciences and humanities. LOOOOLLLLLLLL
      it’s just as well. they couldn’t write for shit.

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