8:25 in the morning and two empty cans of Diet Pepsi in front of him. There were a bowl-full, placed there especially for him. Two cans of Diet Pepsi pulsing through his veins and still he sounded to be speaking at half the speed as everyone else. We had found that tiresome when he lectured, the slow-paced speech, the defeated tone, a voice filled with weariness. Not exactly inspiring. Yet here, on this early morning, it was so welcome. Same person, new setting, suddenly a dazzling gem- how could you have not seen it before?
He was so welcome, in fact, also a surprise. In class, afterwards, he was always surrounded by students, the same ones that gathered around every professor after class, equipped with concocted questions and canned flattery. He had seemed to respond to that sort of adulation, was patient with them- I held that against him. My favorite instructors saw through the sycophants, made their responses curt, brushing them off with annoyed efficiency. Not him.
But now I understood why. We weren't used to seeing someone so in love. If your motives were noble or nefarious, it mattered not to him. If you showed any interest, he saw an ember, and set about trying to fan it to a flame. When I had talked to other physicians on staff, they had that skeptical tone laced through "hmmm, so you think you are interested in X?" As if they could not wait to prove me wrong. Not him.
The words were fairly much the same- "So you think you might be interested in" but the tone was altogether new, completely the opposite of all the others. Devoid of cynicism, he sounded hopeful. He hoped you were interested. He wanted to show you how interested you could be.
And there there were the 2 cans of Diet Pepsi, the playful jeering of diagnoses so obscure and unhelpful that they sounded made up, the forgetting of anatomy terms and the description of a patient with mental status changes as sort of far out. It was, in fact, a very good day.