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I said it to a woman in a department store and walked away drenched in cologne. Every day was an adventure. On the day of my appointment, I returned to the hospital, where I signed the register and was led by a slightly less cheerful nurse to a large dressing room. There were three doors in the dressing room, and after removing my clothes I put my ear against each one, trying to determine which was the safest for someone in my condition. The first was loud, with lots of ringing telephones, so that was out.

A potted plant stood in the corner, and beside it was a second door, which was open and led into a hallway. I took a seat and had been there for a minute or so when a couple came in and filled two of the unoccupied chairs. The first thing I noticed was that they were fully dressed, and nicely, too—no sneakers or sweatsuits for them. Their black hair, which was obviously dyed, formed another match, but looked better on her than it did on him—less vain, I supposed.

I wanted more than anything to go back and get it, but, if I did, the couple would see my mistake. La la la. A clock might be a challenge, but a Timex the size of a fifty-cent piece, no problem. My father grilled steaks. My mother set the picnic table with insect-repelling candles, and just as we started to eat she caught me chewing a hunk of beef the size of a coin purse. Gorging always set her off, but on this occasion it bothered her more than usual.

The Waiting Wall

In that moment, I hoped that I would choke to death. The knot of beef would lodge itself in my throat, and for the rest of her life my mother would feel haunted and responsible. Instead, I had lived and grown to adulthood, so that I could sit in this waiting room dressed in nothing but my underpants. It was around this time that two more people entered. The woman looked to be in her mid-fifties, and accompanied an elderly man who was, if anything, overdressed: a suit, a sweater, a scarf, and an overcoat, which he removed with great difficulty, every button a challenge.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - The Waiting (Official Music Video)

Give it to me, I thought. Over here.

30 Ways to Get Out of the Waiting Place

But he was deaf to my telepathy, and handed his coat to the woman, who folded it over the back of her chair. Our eyes met for a moment—hers widening as they moved from my face to my chest—and then she picked a magazine off the table and handed it to the elderly man, who I now took to be her father. She then selected a magazine of her own, and as she turned the pages I allowed myself to relax a little. She was just a woman reading a copy of Paris Match, and I was just the person sitting across from her. It sometimes helps to remind myself that not everyone is like me.


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Not everyone writes things down in a notebook, and then transcribes them into a diary. Went with Dad to the hospital, where we sat across from a man in his underpants. They were briefs, not boxers, a little on the gray side, the elastic slack from too many washings. Not Now.

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The Waiting (song)

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