Every school is different, but two truths remain no matter which school you go to:
1.) you all open an envelope with your fate sealed inside at 1 PM Eastern Standard Time
and2.) if nature calls after 1 PM on Match Day, you'll find a dozen future doctors sobbing in the bathroom.
Welcome to Match Day, kids.
Derrick's school is known nationwide for its wild-and-crazy Match Day proceedings. Class officers pick a theme every year, and the Match Day candidates choose the wildest of costumes to accompany that theme. This year's theme was "Animation Domination," meaning the fourth-year med students could dress up as anything animated. Cartoons, comics, movies, you name it.
There's even an official pre-Match Day party.
Complete with keg and liquor.
At 9:30 AM.
Again, welcome to Match Day.
The costumes were incredible. Princess Jasmine and Jafar drank beer with He-man and Shira. Superman, the Green Lantern, and Mr. Incredible clustered in a corner. I talked with Penny and Inspector Gadget, Carmen Sandiego, Mario, and Dora the Explorer. There were Care Bears. There were Powerpuff Girls. Captain Planet and the Gang. Cinderella. Pocahontas. The Bill from Capitol Hill. Troll dolls with silicone asses.
It was an experience.
|Princess Zelda, Miss Frizzle, Nemo, Popeye, Olive Oyl, Jasmine, Inspector Gadget|
Derrick was Jonny Quest. For those of you unfamiliar with the obscure 1960's Hannah Barbara cartoon: Jonny Quest was a too-smart-for-his-own-good boy with an Indian best friend and a cartoonish dog.
Derrick is a too-smart-for-his-own-good boy with an Indian best friend and I have a cartoonish dog.
|Apollo as Bandit|
Add in my marginally retarded dog with a painted mask on (it was food coloring, PETA, relax) as Bandit, and we had ourselves a Hanna Barbara caravan.
Every med student crowded into the auditorium to begin the final countdown at 11. Each student came up on stage and had about a minute or two to showboat before they received their envelope-- the envelope that told them where they were going---which they had to hold in their hands and not open until 1 PM.
While I could write eight paragraphs about all the different ridiculous performances we saw--choreographed dancing, a love train, breakdancing, elaborate pantomimes--I know you're waiting for the same moment we were.
12:30. Derrick started fidgeting.
12:35. I asked what time it was. For the tenth time.
12:45. We began sipping our Jameson's a lot more frequently.
12:50. The room became a lot less loud. Med students twirled their hair, tapped their feet, drummed on the armchairs.
12:55. The med students gathered on stage.
12:59. The coutdown began, New Year's Eve-style.
Five. Four. Three. Two.
Open your envelopes.
Everyone on stage tore open their envelopes in a flurry of tossed paper and frantic arms. Sheets were unfolded. Eyes scanned. Derrick was in the back. I couldn't see him. I scanned the crowd, over and over, waiting for the hands to fly up from the back row, waiting for those blue eyes to stand above the rest and tell me where we were headed. My dog strained at his leash. I dug in my heels and waited.
The first eruption came from the front row. His arms pumped in victory. His family raced to him. The room spun and I waited. More explosions erupted. A long line of laughter. A shrug. A girl covered her face, dropped her head to a waiting shoulder. Still I waited.
Derrick's mother took the leash from my hands and said Go to him.
It was one of those moments that slows and holds heavy in your hands. It was a moment where the seconds drift and you can remember every line, every curve, every swell of the scene. I pressed past the superheroes, past the princesses, past the cheering and the crying, murmuring excuse me, excuse me through the fluorescent hair and the tight skirts and bright colors and tossed arms and the laughing and the far-off eyes until I saw him.
He stared at a piece of paper. No emotion.
My heart dropped.
Where? I asked.
His eyes were still scanning. They print the school on the last line, in the smallest font. He had taken a drink before opening the envelope. I hadn't come too late. Here it was, Baltimore or Boston or DC or Worcester or NYC or Richmond or Gainesville or here and it was
Boston, Derrick said in disbelief.
Boston. Thank God. Thank Match Day deities, thank algorithms, thank Boston Medical Center, thank the patron saint of tequila or sex or poetry or Johnny Cash or whatever the hell it is you pray to at night, thank you and thank you and thank you again.
I threw my arms around him and I cried.
I originally had a Match Day Madness photo collage planned...but this video says it better than my camera ever could:
....we bleached his hair.