I’ve studied many interesting specimens of humanity while sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms, but this one lady from Thursday’s appointment wins the prize for Best Walking Free Entertainment in a Medical Waiting Room.
These are the events as they transpired:
-The woman stumbled in on a boozy waft of cold air. She was older, maybe in her 60’s. It was 10:30 in the morning. “Bonjour,” she said to the whole room. (In France, it’s standard to greet a room when you walk in, probably even if no one’s there.)
-She weaved around the small coffee table to maneuver herself between it and me on her way to her final destination, which was the seat next to mine.
-As she went past, I looked up at her, made eye contact and smiled. This is the American equivalent of the verbal French room-greeting. (The French aren’t that familiar with the whole smiling at each other thing. I know this for a fact after conducting numerous experiments on random French people. It doesn’t stop me from smiling at them, though. I’m hard-wired that way.)
-My smile was met with a terrible scowl of doom. This woman was clearly in a bad mood.
-She sat down in the chair to my left. On the other side of me, Callaghan leaned in to whisper, “I can smell her from here.” He got away with this because he said it quietly and in English, plus the lady was plastered, so she probably wouldn’t have noticed, anyway.
-I resumed my activity of reading out loud from L’Express magazine and stopping at the end of each sentence to pester Callaghan for explanations of the bits I couldn’t figure out. (By the way, did you know that there’s a long line of women behind the famous Laurent-Perrier House of Champagne?)
-Not ten minutes later, there was movement to my left. It was the drunk lady rising out of her seat like a large gray gull to loom over the table and swoop up a magazine.
-Before she sat back down, she opened her mouth in the direction of the woman sitting by the window and loudly complained about le docteur being late, jerking her elbows upward for emphasis. In her grating gull voice, this came out as WAWK WAWK WAWK
-Our end of the room clouded up with a fresh gust of alcohol breath. It didn’t smell like cough syrup, either.
-Callaghan and I looked at each other. Our eyes said, Can you believe it? It’s 10:30 in the morning and she comes in drunk, complaining about the doctor being late!
-She gave us two, maybe three more performances before we were called in. At least she changed it up slightly each time so there was some variation in the details.
Perhaps I should be kinder. I mean, it’s possible that she’s seeing the doctor because of alcoholism, which is an authentic disease. She made for an amusing wait, though! Still, I would have preferred to read about the Laurent-Perrier champagne sisters without the soundtrack.