Thursday, April 7, 2011

match (day) madness: part five -- match day

Every school handles Match Day differently. Some schools have parties, others have ceremonies. Some have a mad rush to the stage to claim your envelope. Others start at 1 PM and have each student read the contents of each envelope to the watching audience. Which means that if you get your twentieth choice...well, you've got to announce you got your twentieth choice to a massive audience. And you've got to hold back your tears until you can make offstage, because it's not fitting for a future doctor of America to break down and cry in front of hundreds of people.

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

2.) 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
That Indian best friend? Also a fourth-year med student about to match. Jonny and Hadji.
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.

Bless her.

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

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:

And yes....

....we bleached his hair.


  1. OH! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    I'm so very relieved it ended happily for you guys. Yay for Nicki and Derrick and three cheers for Boston Medical Center!

    Hip hip, hooray!

  2. that video was epic. i would never have guessed that med students would get that into dressing up as cartoon characters. it looks like one of the most fun, most terrifying, most gratifying, and most emotional things someone could go through. i actually got a little teary eyed a few times thinking about it.

    i've also eaten a fair amount of tarzipan today, which you might know makes me have a flat affect. so for me to get teary on the tarzipan is something.

  3. I swear I could cry!!! Boston! BOSTON!!!! Fuck yes. Go RedSox. Girl. We could be neighbors. I mean, not now, because I live in Indiana. But, well, when I move back. Maybe. Someday.


  4. I'm so glad to hear the end of the suspense. Boston! Awesome!

  5. HOOOORRRAAAYYYY!!! Boston! I'm so excited for you guys! Good luck to both of you!!!

    I'm so glad your story ended happily. Seriously. I'm thrilled! Thanks for sharing your amazing story with all of us. Tell Derrick I said "Congratulations!" :)

    So happy you guys got what you wanted. I can't wait to read about your adventures.
    Good Luck.

  7. Nicki, my love, that's bloody MARVELOUS news!!!

    Boston is absolutely BRILLAINT - sophisticated, elegant, intellectual, progressive.

    I'm so VERY pleased it's worked out for you, kitten.

    Cheers and champers all 'round.

    Now about that celebratory trip to London...

    - B x

  8. Chanel-- THANK YOU DARLIN! I can't tell you how relieved I was, too.
    Steph-- right? EPIC. It felt like a comic con combined with a medical convention. And I do know the flat affect (it's a bitch), so it's comforting to know I'm not just stamping my feet and whining about Match Day for no reason.
    VandyJ--thanks so much for reading/putting up with it all! I'm just glad it's OVER.
    Candice-- Thank you thank you thank you! And thanks for sticking it out til the end!
    Rebecccccca- THANK YOU! I can't wait to have adventures to write about!
    B- I knew you'd approve. I love the beaches of VA, but I've been here too long now. Jesus. It's time to move on. And I pushed so hard for overseas residencies--but apparently that's not "wise" or "feasible" or blah blah blah I JUST WANT TO LIVE OVERSEAS. Someday.

  9. OMG YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was sooo hoping to hear you'd get Boston! I think you're gonna love it! I hope you love it! I am so excited for you two! I really wish I could do a happy dance with you!

  10. Holy crap, you had me at the edge of my seat!! Glad it all worked out for you two!!


    This post was so wonderful! Loved the pics! The video! The anticipation! The drama!

    BRAVO! Can't wait to see where life takes you now!

  12. OMG, Nicki, I am so happy for you both! My stomach as in knots and when I read "Boston" I swear I choked back a tiny sob. I still feel weepy about it!

    Boston is one of my favorite cities, and you are going to love it, darling.~

    I love the picture of you and Derrick hugging. It's so appropriate for the end of this epic tale that has kept me on the edge of my seat. You both went through so much and made it...together.

    *massive hugs, darlin'*

  13. Oh my god, that is FANTASTIC! congratulations!!

    I can't believe how HARROWING they make it for you guys. I mean, I guess they're trying to toughen up future doctors, but what about YOU? Jeebus.

    Anyway, YAY!

  14. Congrats!! I have never heard of match day before this and it is wildly interesting. And torturous. Excellent writing, I rushed to open this installment.

    However, as a person married 20 years my largest reaction was when his mother looked at you and said "Go to him".

    Marry him. The Mother in law is a keeper.

  15. Congrats!!! After everything!!! Woot. So effing happy for you! And Derrick!

  16. So many great parts to this, and I'm so happy for you both. Congratulations on surviving the madness!

    In my opinion, Derrick picked the perfect cartoon character. Jonny Quest was and still is my favorite of all my childhood cartoons. My screenplay for the live-action version will never be produced, but I'll give your dog a call so he can audition for Bandit if it ever does see the light of day.

    Many wishes for happiness and success to you guys. And thanks for taking all of us along on this crazy journey!

  17. Yay, yay, YAY!!!! I teared up a little when you went to him, but I forgive you because I am so freaking happy now.


    And could he BE any cuter? Blonde or not, he's beeee-yuu-tee-ful!


  19. I'm new to your blog, but I have to tell you: reading these 5 posts, this saga, this raw, frayed time that ends have forged a connection in me with your writing.
    The imagery, the honesty, and yes, the humor have sucked me in like a crazed Dyson. In five posts I have teared up and glad I came to your blog at this moment.
    Congratulations on Boston, on making it through a shared dark night of the soul, and on whatever adventures await you two next.
    Also, Johnny Quest freaking rocked. ;)

  20. That's awesome! You had my heart racing near the end!

  21. I was tearing up by the end of this. You really could have written a book but this might have been more amazing. Congrats to you and Derrick and I'll see you both up there. :)
    P.S. I think this series made me like him just a little bit more. I'm so happy for you. :)


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