I had an appointment to see my psychiatrist a few weeks ago, but had to postpone. I honestly don’t remember why… root canal drama early November, then turkey day travel, then Sofie sick, then me sick, and sick again… Who remembers anymore?
So, I was told that the next available appointment was Christmas Eve morning. When the receptionist told me over the phone, she had an apologetic “I understand if you wouldn’t want to come in then” tone in her voice. It initially struck me as an odd day to go, then I immediately figured “What the hell. Whatever. Sure. I’ll take it.” Anyway, it’s not kept me from going in the past on Valentine’s Day, or my birthday, or Groundhog’s Day.
Cut to today. It was everything I could have hoped for.
I finished checking in and discovered there was only one chair left in the waiting room, next to a big man-lady with a deep and, um, productive cough.
So, I sat. I waited and waited. I stared at the clock that taunted me with its loud tick tick tick…
The patient who came in after me carried two Chinese food cartons with Christmas decorations on them. She gave one to the receptionists before sitting down to stew in her viscerally obvious glumness.
The receptionist giggled, “Oh! We’ve gotten so many treats today! What pretty paper! [throws paper out of box; it falls to the floor. ] Oooh! Cookies! [chomp chomp] Mmmm… [chomp].” All of that, in one fell swoop.
I suddenly noticed Christmas music coming out of the boom box (yes, boom box) on a shelf. At that precise moment, as if right on cue, Sleigh Ride fell into the verse:
There’s a happy feeling
nothing in the world can buy,
When they pass around the chocolate
and the pumpkin pie
It’ll nearly be like a picture print
by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
we remember all through our lives!
I thought to myself that I couldn’t have made up that moment if I had tried.
Suddenly distracted by thirst, I started to get up & head for the water cooler but then saw Mr. Productive Cough Lady had the same idea. Seated in her chair, she pushed herself up, using her Rascal as a brace.
I sat there, feeling as though I had just witnessed a tv evangelical healing…”She has risen - RISEN! I say - from her Rascal and can WALK!” This was all accompanied by Oh Come All Ye Faithful on the boom box, supported by the bass of the lady’s grunts, produced with each step.
I was suddenly no longer thirsty.
A Louis Armstrong carol started streaming over the airwaves. I started to imagine Tom Waits playing Louis Armstrong in a movie, which led to composing Waits/Armstrong mashups in my head. I deftly started weaving together What a Wonderful World & Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis.
Just then, my thoroughly watered waiting room neighbor interrupted my creative process, leaned in and grunted:
“Hey, excuse me, Miss.”
“Can you tell me how to get to In-and-Out from here?”
I gave her directions.
“Oh, thank you. I have to go to Ventura after this, so that’s not really on the way. But I wonder where there’s one in Ventura.”
“I don’t know.”
“Oh, I know where, but I don’t want to wait that long! I’m dying for a burger. I’ve been craving…”
At this point, her voice turned into the teacher’s voice in the Peanuts animated shows.
“Wah wah WAH wah Wah…”
Tick, tick, tick…
Charlie, for chrissakes,
do you want to know the truth of it?
That I ain’t got no husband;
he don’t play the trombone either
I gotta borrow money, you see.
I gotta pay this lawyer.
And Charlie, by the way,
They say I’m gonna be be eligible for parole
come valentines day.
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.