As you age, the phrases “routine tests” and “I’m just having a little procedure done” become a part of your everyday vocabulary. Whether you’re getting a Texas-shaped mole checked out or you’re trying to determine the cause of your sudden weight gain (sluggish midlife metabolism, anyone?), doctor appointments start to regularly appear on your calendar right next to “coffee date with mom.”
Which brings me to my recent CT scan. (“Nothing to worry about, just a routine test to monitor that little nodule we saw on your last test.”)
I’m not a big worrier about this kind of stuff (at least until I know there’s something to worry about), so I went into the appointment with my Kindle ready to fill the time with a good book until the tech called me back. I’m sitting there doing the two-finger swipe on my screen, stretching the text big enough to see until there are about FIVE GIANT WORDS on each page. (I know, I know, I really need to throw a pair of reading glasses in my purse, especially with all the insurance forms I had to fill out. But I’m not ready to admit defeat just yet.)
Anyway, I look up from my Kindle and notice about a dozen adults lining the edge of the small waiting room, trying to busy themselves with mindless activities to avoid worrying about their upcoming tests. In the corner sits a man in his 70s (Wilford, perhaps?), busying himself with a crossword puzzle and a cup of coffee.
Next to me, a 20-something guy fiddles with the playlist on his phone. Young and old, black and white, men and women – just a true cross-section of my community in here worrying about who knows what. Maybe an X-ray for broken ribs? An MRI for possible breast cancer? A CT scan to pinpoint digestive troubles? Regardless of age, most of the people looked anxious, with an almost palpable collective worry.
Breaking the otherwise silent room at a 100-decibel leaf-blower level, a TV blares up in the corner, showing We Bought a Zoo, the 2011 movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. This inspirational, PG-rated, feel-good tale follows the true story of a widowed father of two as he moves his family to the country to renovate and reopen a zoo. Sweet movie.
As easy on the eyes as Matt Damon is, hearing his voice approach the OSHA-permissible noise limit grates on one too many frayed nerves in the room, so a 60ish woman (I’ll call her Edna) approaches the receptionist and kindly begs her to lower the volume. Cradling a phone between her shoulder and ear, the busy receptionist promises to get to it in a minute as she politely waves Edna back to her seat.
I look up at the TV just in time to see seven-year-old little Rosie Mee (who plays Matt Damon’s daughter). What a cutie! I missed the complete set-up of this scene, but apparently sweet little Rosie is about to light into mean ol’ Inspector Ferris who wants to thwart her dad’s efforts and shut down the zoo.
And that’s when cute-as-a-button Rosie launches into her pint-size tirade and bellows to Inspector Ferris at rock-concert level, “HEY MISTER, EVERYBODY HERE THINKS YOU’RE A DICK!”
Poor Wilford-in-the-corner almost chokes on his coffee as the receptionist lunges for the remote control.
At first, it was so quiet you could hear a gauze pad drop.
But then, one by one, everyone starts giggling, with embarrassed chuckles spreading around the room faster than a viral video. Even shell-shocked Edna is trying to stifle a laugh as she buries her face in the pages of Southern Living. Sometimes, you just need something wildly inappropriate and unexpected to break the tension – even if it’s a cute little girl spouting profanities. It was the best CT scan I ever had. Makes me almost look forward to my mammogram.