This Moment: Imaging/X-Ray Waiting - 2:25 June 21, 2012

My Shrek-sized foot and I are waiting for our x-ray. If I have a broken bone, it will be the first of my life. Knock on wood, salt over my shoulder, spit on my shadow that it isn't. The couple on my left are arguing quietly in Farsi. I bite my cheek to keep from asking them how long it has been since they left Afghanistan. Inexplicably, a large model plane is suspended from the ceiling and is the lone decoration, save for a low-hanging mirror. The man quickly pulls out his phone and asks in English about his car's radiator, while the woman stares at him with a kind of muted intensity. A young woman with white blond hair pulled back into a loose pony enters and checks in with the nurse. She adjusts her shirt, pulling it down over her hips, and reveals a pair of wings tattooed across her shoulders. The woman turns around and I am surprised she is two decades older than I judged. The gray Berber rug is flecked with gray and black. The waiting room smells like stale anise-flavored cookies. A lumberjack of a man announces his presence with a declarative and a loud sigh, before he sinks into his chair. Aviation sunglasses rest on his large nose and I smile thinking his eye wear is in keeping with the decor of the office. He misunderstands and says, "Somebody needs to bring a drink cart around. I need me a whiskey." All the patients are startled, and look up from their phones and magazines. He laughs loudly and settles comfortably into his role of colorful character. His fingers are stained yellow. A smoker. I wonder how many packs a day. I would lay bets on two and one half. In the x-ray room the technician adjusted my foot on a thin black plate until my ankle was caught in the cross hairs of red light that look like an intersection of a landing strip. She placed a heavy protective jacket over me, then stepped into the adjoining room to depress the button. She reentered to remove the black plate and placed another under my foot, returning two more times to repeat the process. I asked her if the plate held film. When she said yes, it did, I told her about the artist Binh who transferred Vietnam War images onto leaves using the sun. On the way out the large man was the only patient remaining in the waiting room. Without an audience, he sat silently, his head resting against the wall. I imagine his eyes were closed behind his glasses. Back in the doctor's office, a nurse is asking each staff member individually if they were invited to her birthday swim party. I am imagining each of them in swimming suits and am keenly aware my thoughts are less than kind, and that I am in no position to judge. The nurse is stating that she will make certain to find a divorced priesthood holder to invite to the party for the nurse dressed in a floral scrubs. A doctor emerges from the Allergy Testing room across the hall with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Had I not just been weighed, I would have accepted. A patient down the hall is refusing the cookie in a flirtatious voice. The doctor standing outside my open door is receiving texts at rapid fire speed. He and the nurse are discussing her party. He, his wife, and children will be attending.

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