By Carol Band
Some people complain about waiting. Not me. I like it. Waiting is doing nothing. And I like doing nothing.
I am in the dentist's waiting room. By some miracle of time and space, perhaps a worm hole at the end of my street, I have left the chaos of my kitchen and arrived five minutes early for my appointment.
I check in with the receptionist, sit down and peruse the two magazines in the rack. There is the Journal of Periodontology and a year-old copy of Family Circle. Naturally, I pick up the Family Circle. By the time the receptionist calls my name, I have learned to make a holiday table runner (so what if it's August?), discovered the seven secrets to a successful marriage, and copied a recipe for pineapple upside-down cake. I am thoroughly enjoying myself.
"The dentist is running a little late," the receptionist warns me. "I hope you don't mind waiting a few minutes."
When I left the house a few minutes ago, I put my two oldest children in charge of their younger brother. I handed them a box of Eggos™, pointed them toward the toaster and told them that I'd be home in less than an hour. They could call my cell phone but only if there was a REAL EMERGENCY.
"That's OK," I said to the receptionist. "I don't mind waiting. I don't mind a bit."
I finish the Family Circle and flip through the Journal of Periodontology. I am deeply engrossed in an article on dental implants when I hear the electronic strains of The 1812 Overture. After a few bars, I realize that it's not the office Muzak, it's my cell phone.
"Hi, Mom?" It's my youngest son Lewis. He's shouting into the receiver and I think I hear sirens in the background.
"Honey, are you OK?"
"Can I have a popsicle?"
"Sure," I say and he hangs up before I can ask about the sirens. It's probably just the TV.
I return to the Journal of Periodontology and read about gum disease and tissue inflammation. There are photos. I am having fun.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," the receptionist says. "I'm sure that Dr. Perlmutter will be right with you."
"It's fine," I say. "Really."
Now some people complain about waiting. Not me. I like it. Waiting is doing nothing. And I like doing nothing. While I wait for my son's swimming lesson to end, I nap. While I'm on hold with the credit card company, I doodle. I even let people cut in front of me in the supermarket checkout line just so I can read the headlines in the tabloids.
I'm never in a rush to get home because I know that although the house will probably still be standing, nobody will have let the dog out, closed a cabinet, turned out a light, taken a coherent phone message or cleaned up anything they spilled. I will have to referee fights, find lost sneakers, mop up dog pee and sponge melted popsicles from the upholstery. So I don't mind waiting.
Beep beep beep beep BEEEEEP. It's Tchaikovsky again.
"Mom?" This time it's my daughter, Perry. "Lewisiseatingpopsiclesinthelivingroomandit'smakingahugemessandhe'shoggingtheTVandit's … NOT FAIR!" She pauses to catch her breath. "Also, when are you coming back because I told Lindsay and Mia that you could drive us to the pool."
"I won't be long," I say. "But right now I'm waiting."
I hang up the phone, stroll down the hallway and take a sip from the water fountain. I use the restroom, examine my mouth for signs of gum disease and savor the experience of being uninterrupted.
Beep beep beep BEEEEEEEEEEP …
"Mom?" It's my oldest son, Nathan. "Uh, I was making Eggos™ and there was a tiny mishap with the toaster. I think it's mostly smoke damage. The firemen said it was safe to go back in the house. Maybe you should write to the waffle company and ask for your money back."
I walk back to the waiting room, sit down and turn off the cell phone.
"Oh, Mrs. Band," the receptionist calls out. "We thought you had left. Dr. Perlmutter is seeing his 9:30 patient now. Would you like to make an appointment for another day?"
"No, thanks," I say. "I think I'll just wait."