the composite

Y just received his fourth and final med school class composite.

It's not quite as exciting as his first composite.

I pored over that thing, matching names to faces as he told stories about the new people in his life. I think I knew everyone's name before he did.

(I didn't have too much going on at the time.)

One of Y's classmates used his composite to explain his feelings on classmates to his girlfriend (we'll call her Molly). A few circles here and there, and, over one or two faces, a heavy-handed "X".

I met Molly a few weeks later, along with some more of Y's classmates' wives/fiances/girlfriends. Over dinner, Molly pulled out her composite. "This one's mine,"she said, pointing to her boyfriend. One by one we showed her "ours".

One girl hesitated, but eventually pointed. "That's mine, but he's got a huge X over his face."

Molly snatched the sheet of paper out of the girl's hands. "Yeah, those are the people he doesn't know yet."

And we left it at that. Funny how that memory is three years old almost to the day, and still so vivid. I can tell you where I was sitting, where I parked, the nonchalant way Molly rolled the composite up and placed it back in her purse.

(This is what happens when you're not busy cramming med school facts in your head. It has room to breathe and remember. So in ten years, when Y's head is chock full of diseases and drug names, I'll still be able to list the members of his med school class, in alphabetical order. I love being useful.)