I’m not sure, but I might be a little neurotic about space issues. In my daughter's pre-school they taught her about having a bubble around each person and if you get too close, you might pop their bubble. Kids have weird space perception. Have you ever seen them stand in a line? Its like they’re in the noodle line in Hong Kong or something.
The other day I was in an x-ray waiting room. There were plenty of seats from which to choose. Why oh why would someone have to plant themselves in the chair directly next to me? Isn’t there some kind of rule about leaving one empty seat between you and a stranger? I have wide shoulders and unless I want to play some kind of junior high version of petting, I’ll have to be the one to slouch my shoulders, because it's always me that has to. Who designed those stadium-style chairs anyway? They all connect side-by-side and they leave about 2” between each chair. Unless we all turn sideways at the same time, we’re never going to fit!
I was there having my back x-rayed. It’s probably due to years and years of trying to squeeze into ill fitting chairs that were probably designed in 1950 when Americans were the size of human beings and not small horses like we are today. I’m speaking for myself of course. Slouching and curving, crossing and tucking every part of my body so that I don’t touch any weird strangers. Speaking of weird strangers, of course that’s who sits next to me because I am the Weirdo Magnet .
He was probably about 45 years old and looked a little disheveled, but also a little wealthy (you can always tell by the shoes). He flops his ass down and gives a really audible sigh. He waits a few more minutes and then he sighs again and looks in my direction. I know exactly what he’s doing; he wants me to engage in a conversation with him, about him. He wants me to say to him “Wow, you look really awful, are you okay? Is there anything I can get you? Perhaps a daiquiri or a crutch or a band-aid?” He needs someone to understand how he’s feeling and what’s going on in his life. He needs sympathy. Well, sir, you’ve chosen the wrong seat for that. I once heard an old guy say “Go and look up sympathy in the dictionary; it’s in between ‘shit’ and ‘syphilis’! My sentiments, exactly.
He keeps up this pathetic attempt for attention for 20 minutes, but I’m an asshole and I’m still pissed off that he even sat in the chair next to me. Another patient checked in and the nurse asked her if she had been fasting for 24 hours like they told her to. Weakly she muttered “yes.” I wanted to nudge the big baby next to me and say “Now there’s someone who’s really suffering. So suck it up, Mary, you’ll have your vagina x-rayed soon enough.”
I had to go to the pharmacy that day too. There’s always a long line. The back and forth kind like in Disneyland. We can only go as fast as they call “next” so I don’t understand why the woman behind me has to get all up in my ass. There’s plenty of room to leave for good manners and considering that this is a hospital pharmacy, I would consider this an especially important place to reserve real estate between people. But nope. I can feel her breathing so I move up. She moves up. I move up. She moves up. So I start rocking back and forth like I have a baby and she doesn’t budge. Then I start fake coughing to mimic a patient with a rare disease that’s becoming airborne. But she just stayed there. I consider this harassment and decided to confront it. So I just turned around really abruptly and looked her dead on in the face. Making it super obvious that there’s only 2” between her nose and mine. Bringing forth the imposition this has presented in my life. I just stared. It was unnerving for both of us, but I held on. She quickly lost her battle and I won the war.
For days like these, I want to buy a jacket with porcupine quills on it and shove garlic cloves in my pockets. I want to flail my arms around and swat at pretend flying insects. I want to have a big bean lunch with extra broccoli. Maybe I should just stay home.