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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?

A: Um…


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.


Q: Names?

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.


Q: Rich?

A: I’ve known rich men. They’re often jerks.


Q: Sex?

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.

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