Waiting rooms are funny places. They bring to mind the old Catholic notion of limbo. Or perhaps it’s purgatory. We’re poised to go somewhere. But in the meantime, we’re stuck here, waiting for Godot.
Or at least, the dentist.
I found myself in a waiting room last week — and it struck me as funny indeed. Not the waiting room itself, which was a clean, well-lighted place. No, it was the circumstances.
Several months ago, I bought a used drum kit. This has been a lifelong ambition, to play the drums, ever since I was 14, when Bang a Gong by T. Rex tore up the charts. (Even before that, really. At age seven, I phoned up CHUB radio in Nanaimo to request my favourite song, Little Drummer Boy.)
Having acquired my drums, I signed up for my first drum lesson. The waiting room was at the instructor’s studio. Sitting beside me was a dark-haired boy, probably 12 or 13. We were there for the same thing.
“Young ragamuffin, are you ready to rock, as I am?”
It was tempting to ask. But, having once been a boy, I know what it’s like to have ancient geezers ask embarrassing questions. So the old drummer boy held his tongue.
To be honest, I felt a bit of a goof. The other students were children, for God’s sake. A 30ish mom came in to pick up her drum-playing youngster. Embarrassed at being the only middle-aged student, I tried to assume the just-kill-me-now expression of the harried parent.
But in fact, I was there to make like Keith Moon.
It was my second waiting-room experience of the week. Earlier, my mother had needed a ride to the opthamologist’s.
While she talked to the doc, other patients filtered into the waiting room. To my surprise, they all seemed to be acquainted. They greeted one another with great bonhomie, in the manner of people who had taken an Alaskan cruise together and enjoyed it tremendously.
It soon became apparent that these patients, mostly seniors, had all had cataract surgery the day before. They began swapping war stories.
A gentleman explained that he now wore a transparent plastic patch because his eye was itchy and he was tempted to rub it. A woman said she’d lost her own eye patch in her bedclothes during a tumultuous night. Another woman, whose complexion suggested an extended Hawaii sojourn, said the tape from her eye patch had so firmly adhered to her skin, she’d “ripped off” her tan while removing it.
These exciting tales captured my imagination. And everyone was so happy, why, I felt like I’d somehow lost out by not having eye surgery myself.
Usually, though, sitting in a waiting room is horribly tedious. The worst are doctors’ waiting rooms. They tell you to come at 3:30 p.m. and at 4:10 you’re still there. The magazines are always three-year-old Newsweeks or those silly specialty magazines. The specialty mags are about renovating expensive houses or horse riding or gourmet dining. I always imagine the doctor is enthusiastically engaged in all these pursuits. This gets on my nerves — mostly because I cannot afford any of them.
But at the drum clinic, boredom was far from my mind. My name was called, and I sprang forward, eagerly clutching my borrowed drum sticks, wondering what adventure the next half hour would bring.
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