Bad At Small Talk

Stop Poking Me There

I understand now. Completely. Those suspects left in interrogation rooms, left marinating in their own thoughts while the detectives take their sweet time, I know why they crack. Like most who like police procedural dramas, I’d always thought in the back of my mind that I’d be an unflappable suspect. I’d get my story straight. I’d look the bad cop straight in the eye.

Baloney. Complete.

I spent 20 minutes alone in a small plain room today, with nothing but contemporary Christian music softly coming from a speaker I never could find. I was ready to confess to atrocities if it would get me out of that room.

You would think, in the midst of a still-teetering economy, that an independent business would do everything within the realm of sanity to keep its customers happy and non-freaked out. A business like, say, an eye clinic, wouldn’t have bible verses painted on the walls, or nothing but Gideon bibles or Billy Graham pamphlets to read in the waiting room, or, yes, that spookily just-a-hair-away-from-being-homoerotic contemporary Christian music wafting to all rooms.

You would think. You would be wrong.

But this is not about religion, or even the right to expression. Or about customer service. It’s about those prisoners.

The wait in the waiting room was long enough. It was a busy day. No one, myself included, was touching the reading material. No one, not even the little old ladies seated together in a corner, helped themselves to a bible or a pamphlet outlining God’s plan for all of us.

So for 30 minutes I sat and stared with other people who sat and stared. Which was an unnerving effect. Because they were sitting and staring, I couldn’t stare at them without being stared at. So I’m even denied the time-passer of people watching.

I should have brought a book.

But then a tech (that’s what the nurse-types in eye clinics are called, my mother was a tech for years) called my name and led me to an exam room, where The Doctor Would Be With Me Shortly.

He was not there shortly. And there was nothing to read. A roomful of quasi-alien eye exam instruments to fiddle with, yes, but I am not a daredevil. Just me. And the music (I will stay on my kees/to keep you by my side…that sort of thing).

So here’s what I did.

I sat in the exam chair and looked at the small mirror on the wall. And even though the mirror seemed to be level with the top of the exam chair, it evidently wasn’t, because only the very top of the exam chair was reflected. I looked straight into the mirror, and I couldn’t see the top of my head. I extended my arms, and had to extend them quite a ways before they showed up in the mirror.

So I sat and pretended I had suddenly turned invisible. I made up my mind that somehow crossing the threshold into that exam room had left me with the power of invisibility. Except I didn’t feel like I had a “power” at all. Rather, it felt like an affliction. I was gone, now the ultimate sit-and-stare guy. Most people fear never being able to see their loved ones again, not the other way around.

At that point, making objects seemingly levitate or spending quality time in the women’s locker room were the furthest things from my mind. I would never actively participate in anything again, but I would get to hang around to see the world just putter along without me.

This was despair. And because the eye doctor was busy explaining cataract procedures to old people or refilling the waiting room baskets with Jesus pamphlets, I spent a good half hour in this despair. I was alone, I was convinced I was invisible and nobody seemed in a particular hurry to open the door to the room and rescue me from a life of invisibility.

When the doctor did come in, he tested my eyes’ response to pressure. He administered eye drops that stung, then numbed my eyes. Then he poked my numb eyes with a small probe.

He needn’t have done that. I was perfectly ready to confess my crimes.

June 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment