The painting in Dr. D’s waiting room


“I think it’s a testimony to the depth of his soul.”

The long gray man in the red plaid field jacket tips his barely blustery head. He isn’t deaf, I am pleased to note, just not used to being addressed by a stranger in such a place, a stranger moreover who displays no insignia by which to plan and carry out such a contact. His wife has a clamped grip on his left elbow. As close to him as she is sitting, it isn’t close enough. In a whisper like dew rising only to fall, she asks “What did she say?” 

His left index finger rises across him to point back over his right shoulder. “Back there?”

“Yes, that’s right. Right there behind you. It’s one of those paintings you can see how when it’s bought you believe you have the perfect space for it.”

Eddie Bauer Man begins to make his move, to rotate at the waist. The look of amazement turns on the lights in his eyes. 

I want to tell him it’s gonna totally be worth it. Why can’t I? I use the boomerang of my own shoulders and neck to swing his lazy ass around to get a look at this! “But then it turns out you really don’t have enough space for the painting at home, possibly because you live in a house, not a museum, palatial enough for most applications, but nowhere near big enough for this painting. You can imagine his chagrine as he carts it to the office in the back of his 1993 Volkswagen Eurovan.”

I’m getting tired of trying to convince him to turn around and take it in. It’s a mild but not ineffective social assertion all mothers are familiar with. “Monkey see : monkey do. My eyes grow arms, sprout hands complete with opposing thumbs, grab hold of his recalcitrant gray orbs, sling and nail them to the wall. Finally he turns all the way around. Halfway there a smile curls his thin lips into a crease at the edges. He is amused. Now what did that just remind you of?

The back of Eddie Bauer Man’s head is every bit as gray as the front. Somehow I manage not to bitch-slap him. Civilization survives a moment at a time.

Eddie Bauer Man finds humor in my affrontery, a like able enough trait if it weren’t so gender-biased. I can feel an early-learned habit of response blink to “on.” The console of my Education & Training file opens with a question, simple and eloquent, “Where would you like to go from here?”

Where, indeed. “I wish I was there right now.  I can smell the Sage!” 

Richard has been listening to my conversation with the new arrivals. “Nothing,” he reports, sniffing the air with great concentration and purposeful attention. “Nothing!”

9:57 PM