SCENE 7

 

The following afternoon. Scene opens at restaurant table. Carolyn is sitting alone, contemplative, faintly smiling. Her eyes light up as Richard approaches. Richard sits down as he addresses her.

 

Richard

warmly

Hey.

 

Carolyn

Even more warmly, with a big smile

Hi.

 

Richard

Sorry I’m late. I was applying some sort of cream to a rash my roommate couldn’t reach himself.

 

Carolyn

How did you meet, um..

 

Richard

Skeeter? I did a roommate hunt on the internet. He described himself as “Gentle nonsmoker.”

 

Carolyn

Wow.

 

Richard

How was Debbie feeling this morning?

 

Carolyn

She had an awful headache.

 

Richard

Yeah, she looked like she had more than her share of drinks last night.

 

Carolyn

That had nothing to do with it. She always has a headache the morning after she doesn’t meet any “nice people.”

Carolyn make rabbit-ear quotes with her hands

 

Richard

Confused, makes the quotes with his fingers, too

“nice people?”

 

Carolyn

Never mind. Richard Cartwright, what have you been doing with yourself? What happened to you after high school?

 

Richard

Well I went to college and everything.

 

Carolyn

You always talked about medicine.

 

Richard

I feel like I’ve always wanted to be a doctor.

 

Carolyn

Why?

 

Richard

I dunno.

 

Carolyn waits for a better answer.

 

Richard

It’s such a great profession.

 

Carolyn is still not satisfied.

 

Richard

I don’t know, there’s something about doctors, I mean..I don’t know.

 

Carolyn

That’s what you told your interviewers?

 

Richard

chuckles

I told them I want to help people.

 

Carolyn

You don’t want to help people?

 

Richard

Of course I want to help people.

Richard wants to redirect the conversation, he mocks the interviewers:

“What attracts you to medicine, Ms. Kensington?”

 

Cut to interview scene, Carolyn and her interviewer in the interviewer’s office.

 

Carolyn

She contemplates for a moment and is sincere in her answer

I’m attracted to medicine because I’m capable of pursuing medicine.

 

The interviewer looks at her expectantly, as if to say, “please go on.”

 

Carolyn

Life has treated me well, Dr. Cox, and I resent that. I spend a lot of energy coping with upper class guilt. I’ve volunteered all my free time away, worked for a dozen nonprofits, rallied, campaigned..

 

Dr. Cox holds up her application.

 

Dr. cox

So I’ve noticed.

 

Carolyn

Medicine is for me.

 

Dr. Cox

For you.

 

Carolyn

Health is the primary good, it is the asset upon which all other assets are built. What could possibly be more interesting, more fulfilling, than learning to preserve it?

 

Dr. cox

Nothing.

 

 

Cut back to restaurant scene.

 

Carolyn

resigned

I told them I want to help people.

 

Richard

What else is there to say?

Pause

I suppose everyone’s got their own reasons for going to med school, but none of them are going to get you into med school.

 

Carolyn

Well I definitely agree that the process of getting into medical school is sickening.

 

Richard

It’s a game.

 

Carolyn

Such a game.

 

Richard

But you have to look at it from their perspective.

 

Carolyn

Who are “they?”

 

Richard

You know, them, not us. The admissions people. There are a lot more applicants than spots, so how do you deal with that?

 

Carolyn

You reduce a person to a number.

 

Richard

You’re not being fair.

 

Carolyn

You’re right: you reduce a person to two numbers. Richard, did you try to socialize with our new classmates last night?

 

Richard

I spent most of the evening trying to find a bathroom.

 

Carolyn

I understand that we need surgeons, but lord have mercy, I mean I thought the whole point of the interview was to verify that an applicant is capable of communicating.

 

Richard

You have to wonder what goes on behind those closed doors.

 

Cut to behind those closed doors: a conference room with a dozen faculty members around a large table with large stacks of folders that represent applications.

 

Dr. kerman

Presenting to the rest of the group

This applicant is a 24 year old white female, with a history of two years in the peace corps, two first-author papers and proficiency in four languages, who presents to this committee for the second time in two years. She was in her usual state of career indecision until three years prior to presentation, when she reports that during her tenure in the corps, where she built houses and improved sanitation for an indigenous central american village, she was inspired by the native faith healers to devote her life to the care of the sick. She has a family history remarkable for a maternal pathologist. She denies bad habits including having a personality and consorting with lawyers. She is positive for volunteer experience, alpha epsilon delta honor society, and basic science research.

 

Her vital signs are remarkable for an GPA of 3.6 and an MCAT 27. Physical exam is remarkable for a well-developed caucasian woman without obvious physical deformities or deficits.

 

Dr. Kopel

Any history of previous MCAT scores?

 

Dr. kerman

She scored a 27 in August of last year as well.

 

dr. blumberg

Hmmm. Therapy, which I’m sure consisted of a broad-spectrum review coarse, was ineffective at raising her score.

 

dr. kerman

She may have been noncompliant with her therapeutic regimen.

 

dr. funk

 

That’s an important point Dr. Kerman.

 

Dr. wolf

There was an issue in her region, I’m not sure if it was at her testing site, regarding a very noisy test-taker that was shown to be statistically significant in lowering the scores of the other examinees.

 

Dr. Seldin

The senior faculty member, in charge

Let us focus our attention on horses and not zebras, Dr. Wolf.

 

Dr. funk

This is an unfortunate case. Her vital signs are unresponsive to therapy, which is predictive of a poor outcome. Did we uncover her mother’s MCAT score?

 

Dr. Wolf

Twenty-eight.

 

The committee members shake their head disappointedly. Dr. Kerman puts the file in a large stack of rejects. He picks up the next file.

 

Dr. Seldin

Dr. Kerman, I know this is your first time on the committee, but if you could please abbreviate your presentation to include only the aspects of the case that will change our management we would all be grateful.

 

Dr. Kerman

Yessir. This applicant is a 42 year old male who, after discovering and implementing the vaccine, eradicated a rare filavirus that threatened to wipe out an entire African tribe. GPA 3.8 and MCAT 26.

 

The group grumbles, moans, and shakes their heads on hearing this MCAT score.

 

Dr. Kerman

I would like to remind the committee that an MCAT of 26 is at the upper limit of normal for this age group.

 

Dr. Funk

An important consideration. How many nontraditional students did our lawyers mandate?

 

Dr. Blumberg

Twelve.

 

DR. kopel

Don’t forget that 34 year old with one arm – they said he counts as two nontraditional students.

 

Dr. Blumberg

We’re capped.

 

Dr. Kerman puts the folder into the reject stack. He picks up the next folder and addresses the group.

 

dr. kerman

This is a 22 year old who presents with an MCAT of 37.

 

The group nods and voices their unified approval. The folder goes in a much smaller accept stack. Next folder.

 

Dr. kerman

Slowly and clearly

This is a 24 year old female who in middle school chemistry class devised a proof for a fifth state of matter and later verified its existence on one of the moons of Saturn. She also discovered a new element and named it after her cat, who survives to this day at the age of 29 due to our applicant’s harvesting the organs of recently deceased cats in her neighborhood and successfully transplanting them using immunosuppressants derived from plants in her aunt’s garden. Additionally she runs a homeless shelter, is a top-ranked chess player, an olympic decathlete,

 

As Dr. Kerman continues the committee is visibly bored. Dr. Funk motions to speed things up.

 

Dr. Kerman

..and a virtuoso of the quamabeh, an instrument played only by Australian aborigines. She was selected as a youth ambassador to the United Nations and in 1997 brokered an agreement between three Mongolian factions that had been at war for over three thousand years. Her college thesis proved that greenhouse gasses cause small cosmic pressure zones that shift the axis of planetary orbits by one tenth of one degree every six thousand years; based on this discovery, starting in the year 2010, there will be an extra day added to November. She invented a perpetual motion machine and since the age of 11, after the tragic death of both her parents in a hot air balloon accident, has supported her four retarded siblings by working full time as a cocktail waitress-

 

Dr. Seldin

Sternly

Dr. Kerman!

 

Dr. Kerman

Earlier this year she walked on the moon.

 

Dr. Seldin

Vital signs Dr. Kerman!!

 

Dr. kerman

GPA 3.94 MCAT 29.

 

The committee members shake their heads, obviously frustrated. They want to accept her, but they just can’t.

 

Dr. Kerman

She is documented to have very severe dyslexia but refused to take an untimed MCAT.

 

Dr. Funk

Andy, what is the average MCAT score Baylor is reporting for this year’s acceptees?

 

Dr. Kopel

33.42

 

Dr. Funk loses it.

 

Dr. Funk

Impossible!!

He pounds on the table

Thirty-three point four two! That’s fully twenty-two one hundredths of a point over last year!

He stands

They must be falsifying data!

He turns to Dr. Seldin

Don, can you imagine any way they could have achieved that kind of MCATtage?

 

Dr. Seldin motions for Dr. Funk to calm down. Dr. Funk sits back down, exasperated.

 

Dr. Funk

Shaking his head

Thirty three point four two.

 

Dr. Seldin

I’m afraid she’s simply not Southwestern material.

 

Cut back to restaurant scene. Time has passed, and their table is littered with used dishes. They are laughing and shaking their heads. Carolyn gazes longingly at Richard.

 

Carolyn

Whatever happened to that guy who was talking about medicine in 8th grade..from Mrs. Buxbaum’s homeroom?

 

Richard

Brian Randolph?

 

Carolyn

Yes. He’s the one who wouldn’t play sports because he wanted to be a surgeon and wouldn’t risk injuring his hands. He went to Eugene with you, right?

 

Richard

Yeah. He’s back in Portland. He’s a manager at the Gap.

 

Carolyn

Drastic career shift.

 

Richard

He was a great student, too. I have no idea why he couldn’t get in.

 

Carolyn

I know tons people like that. Tons of super people who were totally qualified and can have a conversation at a party.

 

Richard

Tons of people who were better qualified than me. I have no idea why I got in.

 

Carolyn

It makes you want to be a totally stellar med student, sort of as a tribute to them.

 

Richard

Speak for yourself, it makes me insecure.

 

They both laugh at this remark. Richard laughs sheepishly, Carolyn is falling in love but conceals it save that glint in her eyes.

 

Carolyn

You have survivor guilt.

 

Richard

I have imposter guilt.

 

 

Pause.

 

Carolyn

Gross anatomy starts tomorrow.

 

Richard

Nodding

It sure does.

 

Cut to black.