So this week I found myself cooling my heels at the neurologist's office once again for a follow up appointment. There I was, just sitting there minding my own business and trying not to choke on the miasma of mixed perfumes, colognes and room air fresheners in the tiny space.
I was reaching into my purse for a cough lozenge for my insulted breathing passages when the door burst open and a rather large woman with a walker made her way in. Before she had gotten half way to the glass window that housed the medical assistant, she bellowed her name at full volume. Then she shouted her doctor's name. She turned and addressed the room stating loudly "I HAVE MS!!" All of us, who had been quietly not sharing our various diseases and complaints, sat in wide-eyed and shocked silence, staring at her like a group of stuffed owls. Everyone deployed their best "I'm really embarrassed for you and I have to suddenly look at that amazing art that matches the sofa or hastily rearrange the blanket on my husband's legs" moves.
Just my luck, she worked her way over to the empty chair next to mine and sat down. She was still loudly addressing the room about her trials with Multiple Sclerosis and so I furiously searched for new meaning in Dave Hickey's paragraph on beauty that I'd already read 50 times while shrinking down in my chair and trying to become invisible.
She was staring at me. I could feel the hair on my head starting to smolder under the intensity of her gaze. I looked up at her, bracing myself for another loud blast.
"IS THAT GUM??"
I raised quizzical eyebrows in confusion.
"AROUND YOUR NECK, IS THAT GUM???"
"Oh, no, no it's not. It's a brain made of glass in a jar. I wear it to my appointments." (I have an exquisite pink glass brain in a jar I bought from the glassblower Kiva Ford and wear it to every neuro appointment to the delight of the office staff.)
"OH!!" she said. I tried with desperate politeness to go back to my book, but no dice. She was not having it. "DO YOU WORK IN A BEAD STORE??" she yelled into my poor ringing ear.
"No?" I squeaked. "Oh, you mean my Beads of Courage shirt?" I inquired sotto voce, "No, it's a children's charity."
The silence in the waiting room had become palpable.
"SO WHAT ARE YOU HERE FOR??" I think I winced visibly at this one. There is only so much a girl can take. I leaned over in her direction and said quietly:
"I'm here because my brain is being an asshole."
You could have heard a pin drop. The lady on my other side snorted surprised laughter through her nose.
And then, like a miracle, the door to the inner sanctum opened with its blessed light streaming out, the angelic nurse called my name and I fled like a chicken-stealing fox from the farmer.