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When we were younger and had free time to actually make connections with people, friendships were easy. We’d meet like-minded people in class, at bars, in our organizations and at the activities our parents paid for us to be a part of. We’d have something in common, like hating a professor or thinking the recruitment chair was a huge See You Next Tuesday, and alas, a friendship was born.
But now, as “real” adults, making friends has proven to a bit more of a challenge.
We graduated, moved away, got shitty jobs and did shitty things like sitting on the couch rewatching “The Office” over and over again in our free time. We’re too tired to do stuff, and we’re definitely too tired to make small talk with people we only sort of know. So, when you manage to mesh with someone, anyone, you have to cling on to them like there’s no one else to go to brunch with tomorrow.
That’s what I think is happening with my doctor.
Once I finally packed up my wheelchair after my ill-fated ankle break, I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to walk anymore. Thanks to avoiding any and all physical activity for four months, all of the muscles in my leg decided to peace the fuck out and I was left with a flab of worthless, atrophied muscle. If there was a zombie apocalypse, I was toast. Hell, if there was just a need for me to walk into the other room, I was toast. So, it became apparent that I needed to go to physical therapy like, twelve weeks ago.
And that’s where I met her. Jessica*.
I was shocked at how young she looked the first time I came to an appointment with her, but I assumed she just had a baby face. Considering I get confused for a 16-year-old often (and sometimes a chubby German boy, if I’m not wearing makeup), I chalked it up to genetics and the fact that, as a medical professional, she most likely lived a healthy lifestyle. During my visits, she’d move my foot around, make small talk, and was generally pleasant. Doctor pleasant.
Until one day I decided to actually talk to her. Maybe my introverted-self was craving some social interaction, or maybe I just felt like letting her talk about herself instead of listening to people complain about their pain. Whatever it was, the second I asked if she had any plans for the weekend, a floodgate opened.
We talked about things to do in Austin and our favorite places to go. We talked about our relationships, about moving across the country. She saw the (Deathly Hallows) tattoo behind my ear and admitted that she was a Harry Potter fan as well. From there we discussed our favorite characters, other favorite books, our career goals and personal goals. We’ve gotten into the hardships of living away from our families and the challenges of getting used to a new place. I’m one step away from bringing in a bottle of rosé and splitting it with her during our sessions, that’s how casual it’s gotten.
We talk like we’re friends every time I go in to see her, and now I’m wondering: Is my physical therapist trying to be my friend, or is she just doing her job?
It could go either way, really. These people literally have to be nice to us. They’re like strippers, but instead of turning us on in exchange for us throwing money at them, they move our body parts around in exchange for us, well, throwing money at them.
I’ve heard her talk to other patients, most of whom are old, and I have to say — she’s really fucking nice to everyone. She laughs at the dumb things they say and she makes small talk with them about their lives and their plans. BUT, and here’s the but, it just feels ~different~ with us.
And I being silly? Am I like that guy who thinks the strippers actually like him? Do I think my stripper actually likes me?
As someone who enjoys alone time and rarely seeks out other people to spend time with, it’s odd for me to connect with someone so quickly. It felt like friendship at first sight, but am I just reading too much into our relationship? Am I being nieve? She’s confided in me that, as most people who move to a new place for a job, she doesn’t have many friends to hang out with. Any friends, really.
Which means either she’s hinting that she wants to be friends and am considering having me be in her wedding someday, or I really need more hobbies in my life.
As I’m faced with seeing her multiple times each week, I can’t help but wonder — is she trying to be my friend, and if so, what do I do about that? Is it ethical? Do I have to ask her out? Will she be able to tell I absolutely don’t do all of the home exercises I’m supposed to do?
So, I guess my question is — can you or can’t you be friends with your stripper. Doctor! I mean, doctor? .
*Name has been changed so I don’t seem like a psycho. Or so I don’t seem *more* like a psycho, I guess.
Image via Fox Broadcasting