Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters…

We got the new internet modem/router set up late yesterday, after several hours of Jamie and Ian playing with it. I came home, gave it “the look” unplugged everything, plugged it back in. Voila! Internet. Jamie and Ian were perturbed, relieved, but somewhat annoyed. They claim they’d already done that.  All devices and gadgets have access. Even the iPad—which has AT&T access in the real world—but not here in the cell-phone-satellite-free-zone of my house. So, we have internet. Jamie is waiting for her Airave to arrive in the mail, well UPS. Airaves require an internet access point. So, she needs my other (note I said other and not old) router. Because Comcast is…trifling. A modem that only has one access point—and it’s hard-wired, really Comcast? What century are you living in?

I’d left work a little early because I was feeling sort of puny. We were tired. Ready to settle in for the night. Ian was cooking dinner. A simple dinner; steak, corn on the cob, and Mac and Cheese. You average night in your average American household. Ok, maybe not. But we were faking it pretty well.

Then Chris sent Jamie a text last saying he didn’t feel well and he was going to go to the ER. He needed a babysitter. What’s wrong I ask, because I’m the mother, and it’s my job to ask that.

Dunno, Dizzy. Weak. Dizzy.

Oh—Wait, so, how’s he getting to the ER?


No, dizzy and driving doesn’t sound like a good plan. So I volunteered to drive while Jamie and Ryan watched the kids (4 kids < 5=2 sitters. See I do have some math skills!). No, this isn’t going to be a Ryan story, sorry.

I thought, sinus infection. He’s been snifflely (is that a word?) for days. He’s thinking, you know, stroke or something. We went to the hospital I don’t like, because it’s closest and has good payment options.

We pull in, no empty parking spaces in the ER lot. Not even Handicap. Not a good sign. The ER waiting room was filled with an…eclectic…group of folks. A young man in a wheelchair who had clearly hurt his foot—badly. There was a small child screaming in triage. Various and sundry mopey people sneezing, sniffling, and coughing were scattered about the room.  A woman came by in a hospital gown covered by a red silk robe—she came to the ER in a hospital gown? She carried some sort of designer handbag.

I sat in the first available chair, pulled out my iPad (101 things about Irish History you didn’t Know, on item 55, still nothing new). I began sort-of multitasking; reading, checking email, Facebook, the Red Sox/Yankees game (Sox won!), and people watching. Eventually, I’m sure it was obvious to even the most casual people watcher that the iPad was simply for show. My eyes wandered about the room in awe.

Chris went to triage, nurse wants a chest xray, he says. He sat back down. The pink robe lady sauntered by and out the door to smoke. I look at my email.

The screaming child came out of triage with her entourage. Mom, aunt, and five or six siblings. She had her foot bandaged. It’s summer in Virginia, lots of cut feet. Temperatures in the 90s everyday.

The man in the wheelchair had guests arrive and he’s holding court. Mom, dad, girlfriend/wife, siblings (I counted 4, but the guy in the corner sulking could have been with them too), and a small child in a stroller that kept throwing keys at other patrons. The family continued to return the keys to the stroller. I began to wonder if maybe the toddler didn’t cut Mr. Wheelchair’s foot. I check the Sox score. Chris and I had a brief discussion about the Bruins.

And then, she sort of floated by, trying way too hard to look ethereal. She obviously wanted to be the Mona Lisa or something. We stopped, midsentence and stared. So did everyone else. She was vampire-pale with jet black hair and had on a mid-calf powder-pink sundress covered by a shawl/cape—a white woolen shawl cape. We stared. We all stared—even the toddler. A cape, really? Ok. She sort of sashayed over to triage. The young under-qualified receptionist looked frightened. Cape-woman said her name was Amanda. Really, a cape? 90 degrees? Maybe she lives with Comcast and has not solid grounding in modern reality.

The screaming-triage-child’s mom called and ordered pizza delivery—to be delivered to the ER. A deputy walked by followed by a sullen looking man obviously from county lock-up.

A man came in with his wife carrying a can of carburetor fluid—that he has somehow poisoned himself with. The receptionist nodded at the appropriate moments and waved him away to a chair.

Another man came in—dressed in all white. Hat, bandana/dew-rag, Tee, and painters’ pants. His shirt says something-or-other paint company. He was immaculate. He clearly has not painted anything today, or ever in this outfit. He walked like his back hurts. Receptionist nodded. Amanda floated by. Silk-robe-lady needed another smoke. Triage-child’s mom shouted for directions to the ER for the pizza place.

The receptionist came out and started handing out the hospital wristbands; one for carburetor man, one for Mr. no-paint. I hope she got them in the right order. Red Sox still winning.

At about this point, a new person strutted into the waiting room. I’m not sure if he was a she, or if she was a he. Other than she-clothes, there was nothing to define gender. Well, nothing very specific anyway. There was a 9-o’clock shadow, muscled arms, breasts under a too-tight-tanktop, and daisy-dukes that had no hips to hold onto. I told Chris not to stare.

Amanda was called to triage. Everyone stopped to stare, except the transgendered individual. I should probably add that this is not a downtown hospital. We’re in suburbia here. And it’s only 10pm.

Finally, they called Chris into the back. This left me alone in the waiting room. A pregnant woman came in, she didn’t look like she was particularly in distress. The receptionist’s shift was over, so instead of helping the pregnant woman she talked to the new receptionist. I’m in the corner thinking, hello? Middle of the night, pregnant woman, ER—this can only be going in one direction folks! Send her on to labor and delivery for God sakes! But no, the receptionists talked about what they had for dinner.

Chris returned and told me he had bronchitis, and an inner ear infection. I’m not real sure how they got ear infection from a chest xray, but I’m a teacher not a doctor. And that makes the dizzy make sense. If you’ve never experienced an inner ear infection you don’t realize how badly it throws off your balance – it’s a weird sort of dizzy. Disorienting. Stroke like. But he’s ok. And I am never-ever going back to that hospital!


The Monkees tonight!!

Word count: 1157


3 thoughts on “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters…

  1. I absolutely loved this! I am a people watcher too and you wrote this with such humor i was almost spitting out
    coffee this a.m.! LOL……….thanks mel

  2. So, I have to ask. Johnston Willis or Chippenham? And I think I saw Mr./Ms. Transgendered person in a downtown thrift store once. The description is perfect…..right down to he/she’s daisy dukes! Loved this story and happy that Chris is ok.

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