Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Mournful Cry of a Chair

The waiting room at the doctor’s office is a great place to troll for Geezer stories, especially if you are waiting with a twelve year-old.

A week or so back, this was my situation. The room was filling fairly rapidly with feverish, miserable, coughing, hacking and generally sad-looking people. Pretty much what you would expect in the middle of February.

As we sat hopeful to hear my little patient’s name, a little round couple rolled in. He immediately came down our side of the corral as his wife checked in. When finished, she waddled down our aisle and took the only seat available; the one right next to my inquisitive child.

To preface what happened next, I will explain the construction of the chairs that are in stock at the office. They have a laminated wood frame, circa 1993 wearing a thin vinyl skin with a thin foam rubber pad under that. The chair frame itself is very sturdy. They definitely need to be, after watching many of the patients.

The lady passed by (like a stock trailer) and parked in front of her chosen perch. As she sat down, the requisite “poof” was escalated to a larger, more desperate “POOF”, followed by the normal sound of the air held by the foam escaping through the holes in the stitching. But this was a little more urgent, especially considering the load that was dropped on it.

Instead of the “pouf-sssssssss” that normally emanates from one of these utilitarian furniture items, the resulting sound was more of a “POPFF–WHEEEEEEEEEEZZZZE”. This mournful, distressed sound caught everyone by surprise. Not the least of which was my transparent, easily amused daughter.

She had cast a sidelong glance at me to see if I would react to the size of the lady walking past before the “seating incident” occurred, so she was still turned to me when the explosion and subsequent upholstery scream went up from the cushion. At the moment, or very next moment, her face turned full up to the side of my head, and I could see with my peripheral vision that this girl’s eyes were the size of silver dollars, and her face was in the process of detonating into a full fledged Church Laugh. I instantly tried to steel myself to avoid an outburst of my own.

I am usually very good at suppressing the atmospheric pressure that builds up when a sudden outbreak of laughter is not in the best interest of decorum. Many Sundays of practice while seated next to my sister in church have carried me to my present “true gentleman” status.

But my kid looking up at me with her mouth clamped shut and her lips quivering and her nostrils flaring in silent suppressed howling laughter was like tossing a road flare into a gasoline spill. She is a quick thinker though; she pretended to show some cute and/or funny picture on her phone. I made a show like I thought it funny as well, and then broke out MY phone and reciprocated.

During this tense, hilarious exchange, the man across the room with the too-tight coach’s shorts, polo shirt and a camo gimme cap crowning a gray mullet was eyeballing us silently, regarding us as a sleepy pit bull looks at the children playing at the end of the block.

The most redeeming aspect of the whole incident was that the lady that sat down so heavily and caused the whole commotion was also giggling insanely at what she had wrought. Her husband smiled quietly to himself, as if to say, “Better you than me, dearest.”


Chris said...

I've had similar situations with both of my daughters. At the school where my wife used to work the gym teacher was named Mr. Blackman, and yes he was in fact of African American descent. My daughter also went to school there and was one of Mr. Blackman's students. One day while out shopping with her, my daughter sees who she thinks is her gym teacher and calls out, "Hello Mr. Blackman."

It wasn't Mr. Blackman, but he was a black man. Luckily my wife was able to explain w/ some degree of convincibility that my daughter wasn't refering to his skintone and the gentleman was able to have a good laugh over her mistake.

Rob V. said...

One of these days you really must demonstrate a "full-fledged Church Laugh." I'd like to capture it on video for posting on You Tube.

Mikael L. Hansson said...

I was on sitting on the tube / underground in 1993, onboard stepped a rather "BIG" and very serious looking couple, dressed as they just came straight from the African jungle. It was a very colourful and stylish ataire I might ad, however it looked so out of place that it was hilarious. I mannaged to laugh quietly for myself until I looked at a girl sitting next to her boyfriend who was sitting next to the couple, and when I see that she is laughing so hard that she has to hide her face the boyfriends jacket I could no longer contain myself... Yes, I laughed long and hard!!!

aA said...

Mikael, did you laugh in English or Swedish? If it was Swedish, maybe he wouldn't understand!