"Sharon, you're crazy," the young woman, blonde and perky, said to her friend who was sitting next to me in the front seat of the taxi. "You are, like, the most popular in our class. Everybody loves you."
Sharon shook her head and smiled modestly at her friend in the back. If it's true that the best-looking among us are also the most popular (I know, it's unfair), then my seatmate had nothing to worry about on that score. She was truly stunning - not in a showy or flamboyant manner, but understated in her statuesque beauty. She immediately brought to mind the newest "it" girl: Katherine Heigl, star of the TV medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" and a string of recent hit movie comedies. This mental observation would quickly prove prescient.
"What school are you ladies attending?" I asked as we wended our way to the first stop on Henry Street.
Sharon said, "We both recently completed our first year at UVM Medical School. This rare night out is kind of a celebration."
That makes sense, I thought to myself. These two women had a clarity about them, a self-possession that I've experienced before among the med students I've driven. I imagine it takes that degree of focused confidence to achieve an M.D. Sometimes, though, I forget that Burlington is even home to a medical college, and a well-respected one at that. I guess the school matriculates about 400 students, a significant number, but they aren't exactly party animals - which, when you think about it, is probably a good thing for their future patients.
I chuckled and said, "Everything I know about doctors and med students is from TV shows like 'Scrubs' and 'Grey's Anatomy.' I bet you get that all the time."
The two friends laughed out loud. "Yeah, that's right," Sharon said. "And we tell them that's just how it is. Like, we're all constantly hooking up in the supply closets."
"I wish," Sharon's friend shouted out, inciting a new bout of laughter, including from me. These girls were not merely attractive but a load of fun.
On Henry Street, I stopped to drop off the woman in the back. The two friends kissed over the front seat and made plans to "do this again." Sharon and I continued toward her apartment at the Overlook condos off Spear Street. As we passed the university, the rain began again. Nothing new this soggy summer.
The UVM Farm came and went, and I asked, "Do you know what type of medicine you want to practice?"
"Well, I'm not certain yet, but probably general practice or perhaps OB/GYN." She pronounced the second half of the specialty so it rhymed with "sign," which threw me off.
"Do you mean OB/G-Y-N?" I asked, enunciating each letter in the way I'd always heard it spoken.
She chuckled and said, "Yeah, that's it. It's just a med school thing. What I know at this point is that I want to work closely with patients on their overall health concerns."
"Good for you," I said. "I know the insurance system pays much more to the specialists who do a lot of procedures."
"Oh, don't get me going on our insane health-care system. My husband is finishing up his ortho residence, so, between the two of us, we're both going crazy."
"So what was up with your friend?" I asked, changing the subject from the macro to the micro. "She seemed a little disappointed about something."
"Very perceptive," Sharon replied. "Julia, alas, is looking for love and just not finding it."
"That's surprising - she's attractive and, heck, she's going to be a doctor. You'd think the guys would be all over that. Could the problem be she's studying all the time?"
"No, that's not it. It's not, like, a lack of suitors. She just can't find the right guy."
When we pulled into the Overlook development, Sharon - much to her chagrin - found herself a couple of bucks short on the fare and phoned her husband in the house to bring out some more dough. Through the door emerged a tall, dark and hunky man every bit as gorgeous as his wife, which I guess is the way it works: The beautiful attract the beautiful. Sigh . . .
He approached the cab and came around to my open window. "Sir, I'm so sorry. I have no cash on me whatsoever. We could write you a check."
"No, that's OK," I said. "You're the orthopedic surgeon, right?"
"Uh, yeah - that's right," he replied with a quizzical look.
"Well, your wife is talking about OB/GYN, so that doesn't do me much good. But if I ever bust a leg, can I count on you to help me out?"
"Absolutely," he said with a laugh. "You have my word on it."
He walked around to help Sharon out of the cab, and I watched the two of them walk hand in hand into their condo. This couple, I thought, is going to produce some seriously brilliant and attractive children.