Character Interview – Mel Hathaway
from Smoke & Secrets
Mel reluctantly consented to answering questions and telling us a little bit about herself.
Q: What is your name and where are you from?
A: Melody Hathaway, and I was born in Sharpsville, Kentucky. When I was little my father died in a fire, and we had to move to Memphis, Tennessee so my mom could work in her cousin’s restaurant.
Q: It sounds like it was a bad time in your life.
A: It could have been better. Okay, yeah, it sucked.
Q: What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?
A: That I’m efficient. And that I’m efficient.
Q: No, seriously.
A: I am efficient. When they get to know me maybe they also think that I’m good natured and a caring person. That’s the goal.
Q: You’re a doctor. You’re supposed to be caring.
A: You’d be surprised how many aren’t. The good ones are.
Q: If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
A: First, coffee and a nice chair with my feet up enjoying a pretty view or a good book. Maybe a little Sudoku. Then a long walk, maybe popping into a little shop or two, lunch with a friend at a cute place with lots of sweets, then a movie or horseback riding—
Q: Do you have a horse?
A: No. First, no money for one. Now, no time. But I love them, and being as I live in Kentucky, I do love a good horse race.
Q: Then what?
A: A nice dinner out or staying in, a glass of good wine—
Q: White or red?
A: Pinot Noir if it’s red, Riesling if it’s white. But I’m not picky. If someone offers me wine, I’ll drink it.
Q: Riesling? That’s unusual.
A: It isn’t served much. It’s too sweet for many people. Which is why I’ll drink whatever.
Q: Then what?
A: TV, preferably something British. A cooking show, even though I really don’t cook. The British Baking show is fun to watch. Especially since I love sweets.
Q: Favorite shows?
A: Downton Abbey is a favorite. A good mystery is great British or otherwise. The Good Fight is wonderful. The Crown. Leverage. Succession. The Boyz.
Q: Who is your favorite character?
A: I love Jack Quaid. Yummy.
Q: Any medical shows?
A: No, I get enough medicine during the day. And they usually get it wrong.
Q: Anything else in your day?
A: A hot bath, then bed.
Q: You live in Kentucky. Do you like basketball?
Q: That’s a no?
A: No, that’s an Um.
Q: Would you do any of this with anyone?
A: Yes, if anyone was around. I’ve moved around, and I haven’t always had time to cultivate friendships.
Q: You’ve worked with doctors.
A: And your point is…
Q: Have you ever been attracted to one?
A: Not enough to pursue it. On dates we always end up talking shop.
Q: Would you do any of these things in your perfect day with a man?
A: That would be nice. Really really nice.
Q: Do you read? If so, what do you read?
A: British history, American history, literature, and romance. And medical journals.
A: Joyce Carol Oates, Lisa Kleypas, Jodi Picoult, Zadie Smith, Jojo Moyes, Sarah Addison Allen, Elizabeth Strout. Sharon Kay Penman and Hillary Mantel.
Q: No men?
A: Sure. Jonathan Safran Foer, Pat Conroy, Hemingway. Occasionally Tom Clancy. Tom Perotta.
Q: What are you reading now?
A: A biography of Lise Meitner. She did pioneering work in nuclear fission but was never recognized for it.
Q: What's your idea of a good marriage?
A: Love. Lots of it. Working together for a common goal, respect, affection, humor. I want to feel cherished. And I would make him feel the same. And handsome would be nice.
A: I’ve known rich men. They’re often jerks.
A: Definitely. Preferably all over the house.
Q: What are you most proud of about your life?
A: Overcoming the obstacles in my life to become who and what I am.
Q: What are you most ashamed of in your life?
A: My engagement. The fact that I got engaged, and who I was engaged to.
Q: Care to elaborate?
A: He was one of those rich jerks. Entitled and self-absorbed.
Q: If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), whom would you pick?
A: My mom. I miss her.
Q: Anybody else?
A: Harriet Tubman. What she accomplished with the Underground Railroad was amazing. That took true courage.
Q: Do you think you've turned out the way your parents expected?
A: I hope so. I hope they would be proud of me.
Q: What do you believe about God?
A: That he can be rather arbitrary sometimes.
Q: What do you suppose God thinks of you?
A: That I do whatever I can to make people feel better and to not be frightened. I’m an ER doctor. I treat many frightened people.
Q: Is there anything you've always wanted to do but haven't done?
A: I would like to go to France. The history, the art, and the food. Own a horse and have enough time to ride him. Ride him in Wyoming. Shop Rodeo Drive and have enough money to do it.
Q: What would happen if you did it?
A: I could maybe swing France, and I’d love it and gain fifteen pounds. And Wyoming, but with somebody else’s horse. The rest, maybe one day.
Q: What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
A: When my father died, and we had to move. I learned that you can wallow in self-pity or do something about your situation.
Q: Tell me about your best friend.
A: I don’t really have one. I haven’t had time. I’d like one. We could do sleepovers and drink too much wine, paint our toenails and sing terrible songs from the two thousands.
Q: What's the worst thing you've ever done to someone?
A: I told Raymond Tuttle he was an a**hole. It was the second grade. I got in trouble.
Q: What happened?
A: I got sent to the principal’s office. He asked me to say I’m sorry. I wouldn’t. He sent me home for the rest of the day. My mom grounded me for a week. For cussing, but not for refusing to apologize. She said she understood that completely.
Q: Why did you do it?
A: Because he was. An a**hole, that is. He was a bully. Still is, I understand.
Q: That’s it?
A: I told my fiancé to f*ck off.
Q: That’s not so bad.
A: Tell him that.
Q: That’s two instances of cussing. Do you do it a lot?
A: I work in an emergency room. It happens. Outside of work I only do it when I’m upset.
Q: What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
A: She did all she could for as many as she could. And she was a good daughter.
Q: What is the best classic film?
A: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It’s about how everyone matters.
Q: Best classic car?
A: A Triumph. Any model.
Q: Describe your ideal mate.
A: Handsome--okay, I said it. Solid and dependable, warm, muscular—that's shallow of me, too, I know. Hopefully loves children. Someone who smiles a lot.
Q: What are you most afraid of?
A: Dying alone.
Q: What's the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?
A: Making life better for others, and I value kindness above all.
Q: What do you like best about yourself? Least?
A: I like my hair. It’s dark red. Shallow, I know. Least? I’m pushy sometimes. I have to be, but still.
Q: Do you think men have a problem with pushy women?
A: Yes, sometimes. It is what it is.
Q: How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
A: I would like a best friend. I try to hide it and compensate with other things.
Q: Are you lying to yourself about something? What is it?
A: Why would I tell you that?
Q: What did you have for breakfast?
A: Yogurt and coffee. And a Tootsie Roll.
Q: Mostly healthy.
A: The yogurt and coffee I had at the hospital. The Tootsie Roll was the only thing to eat at home.