Sunday, June 03, 2018

Is like

is like
waiting to play at a brass band competition in a cluttered school music room amongst
people expressing the jovial bonhomie of those who meet only annually
and who spend their time trying to out-practice the opposition
by riffing on difficult arpeggios or running through the nasty bits with ease or
blowing notes at length to show their breath control;

is like waiting to play at a singing competition
in a back room where sometimes suppers are served
and where the contestants aim to outdo each other in dress sense,
make-up, and the highest of heels, deepest of cleavages –
if such are available - and where the guys turn up
in suits, or tuxes, or something that shows they can
spruce up nicely thank you, (unintentionally impressing the girls);

is like waiting for a delayed plane at a cramped airport
with too few chairs and nowhere to lie down and
drinks that are fizzy or caffeinated, and pies with burning
chopped steak and mushroom, and panini with tired salad fillings
that look good in the glass or plastic cases but taste
like plastic (though never like glass) when purchased;

is like waiting for the telephone call from your wife to say
she’s started her labour pains with the about-to-be-first-born ˗
or your second-born ˗ or your third-born ˗ or subsequent-borns;

is like waiting for news of the interviews you’ve squirmed through over
previous weeks, or haven’t made the grade for, or missed out on

is like waiting at an assigned meeting place for someone who,
unbeknownst to you, thought they were meeting an hour later;

is like waiting to go into an important exam you don’t feel in the
least bit prepared for, where you know you will fail and won’t understand the questions and
all the multi-choice responses will be meaningless, and none of the material will be at all

is like waiting in the hospital waiting room – the chairs are
too plastic, or the backs are too far back for comfort, or as hard as steel, or cold, or
just chairs that no one in their right mind would sit on, and your
child is in the surgery possibly dying, possibly reviving, possibly
about to come through and in a month or two everything will be
forgotten, including the uncomfortable chairs;

is like waiting for the
dentist in one of those chairs that leave you lying on your back with a
headrest that some go-ahead inventor not in his right mind
concocted and which isn’t at all at the angle to stop your head from feeling as though it’s
about to snap at the neck, and it seems as if the dentist has gone for a
tea-break, or a vacation, or a long-overseas trip from which he may or may not
return, and the nurse is fussing about clanking sharp knives and long daggers and
implements of unimaginable torture, and everyone of these she’s
throwing on the round steel table just so you know your teeth are in a
desperate state of decay, and it’s likely each and every one of them will need to be
removed before the afternoon is out, and the weather outside, which you can just
see out of the corner of your eye is glowering, turning from a sunny
morning into the stormiest two o’clock you’ve ever seen, and
suddenly here comes the dentist as if he’s never been away, and
picks up every tool at once in his innumerable hands and throws each and
every one of them into your mouth, screwing some of them tight into your
gums, and poking others into the holes you’d thought he hadn’t noticed, and
grinding others right across the surface of your teeth so that you know when you
next look in the mirror you’ll see irremovable skid marks, or children’s
handprints in cement, and with another tool he’ll dent a tooth that was
perfectly fine when you left home this morning, and with another he’ll be picking at
the spaces between your teeth and finding plaque by the globle-ful and tut-tutting, while the
nurse is swabbing your mouth and rinsing it out with a vacuum-cleaner that leaves you more
soaked than dry, and in the meantime your throat needs to swallow and needs to do it
now! and with all this stuff in your mouth you’re going to croak it, you know it, because
the dentist has never himself experienced the horrors of being on the other end of those

is like waiting unstimulated on a desert island, bookless, or without a bit of music to play, or a thought in your head, or a pen to write with (and nothing to write on anyway), and
only the searing sun and the trees dropping coconuts heavily on your unwary
noggin and sand getting into everything from teeth to cracks between the toes to the
hair amongst your private bits to the hair under your arms to the hairs on your head, and
nothing can get rid of it and all the warm and friendly ideas of a tropical island are
dissipating fast and you wish you were home beside a cosy fire with a book, with some
jazz in the background and the newspaper ready to read when the book proves to be
unreadable, and the telly to turn on if you’re desperate, and your wife in the kitchen singing
some old pop song she learnt as a teenager and which is revived when she’s at her happiest, and she’s making date scones which you’re not very fond of but you’ll eat because when
she makes them they’re always much more mixed-spicier than you imagined, and the
kids will come down the stairs and play Monopoly at your feet, and the fluffy dog you
thought you would never have loved will be standing, front paws on your knees, pleading with big brown eyes to be allowed to jump on your lap and lick your hand and flump his
head across your arm – or maybe go for a long walk up hill and down dale. 

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