Yesterday was the day to take my mom to the urologist. It's an hour and a half drive and we brought Julius with us. I was certain at some point we'd have a conversation that entailed her telling me how I really need to buy a fly swatter to use on the kids and how they run over the top of me all the time. I mean, after all, how long can you be in the car with your mother without the topic of fly swatters coming up? That's normal, right? (The answer, by the way, is about 17.5 minutes.)
We made it to the doctor's office without incident. The doctor's office was like nothing I've ever seen in my life. Part of my mom's loathing about going to this doctor was that she felt like his office was a "mill".
"They just mill people in there," she said vehemently. "In, out, in, out, as fast as they can." I pressed on the gas pedal harder and hoped there were no police cars out there. Although maybe if I got pulled over I'd be lucky and he'd have a mother that was an angry-doctor-visitor. Maybe he'd understand.
When I walked into the building I could see what she was talking about. The full length of the huge lobby was lined on both sides by individual, sculpted counters. Behind each counter was a tight-lipped receptionist. Little paper signs on each counter announced the number of each "pod" and what doctor belonged to that pod. As if all the doctors were sleek and porpoise like, slicing through the medical waters with grace and ease. As if.
We stood at "Pod 6" and stared at the receptionist who said our appointment was at 1:15, not 11:45. So after driving an hour and a half we'd have to sit around for another two hours because we're freaks who like to arrive early, even to the doctor's office where they make you wait until are so weak you'll submit to nearly anything if they will just agree to talk to you for five minutes.
Pink Nurse couldn't understand why there was foam coming out of my mother's mouth and I didn't feel like explaining it. So, off we went to find something to eat and kill time.
Upon our return, I dropped my mom off at the front and parked. Julius and I walked into the foyer and there was an old guy in front of us, shuffling along like Tim Conway. He was not even halfway across the foyer and I thought Julius and I could just scoot around him and go through the door ahead. It's not like I was actually cutting in front of him -- it was a big foyer and we'd be there a good five minutes if we just stood behind him and waited.
As I passed by him I looked over and smiled so I didn't come across as some impatient whippersnapper, which I obviously did since he yelled at the top of his voice, "Well... EXCUSE ME!"
My stride stuttered and I glanced over at him and he scowled at me with his angry old man face. I was surprised he didn't shake his cane at me. I just kept walking because what do you say? I thought about apologizing except I didn't do anything wrong and my mom was, by now, all the way at the other end of the building waiting for me.
He yelled again. "YOU'RE JUST IN A REAL BIG HURRY, I GUESS!"
And then my mouth started moving and words came out. I didn't actually do anything myself, it was just my mouth which said, "YEP, REAL BIG HURRY, SEEEE YAAAA!" (You can see the real time post about it on my family blog.) And I just kept on walking.
Amazingly, the actual consultation with the doctor turned out remarkably without incident, without the usual routine where my mom beats up the doctor and makes him submit to her will and I good-naturedly cajole him into discussing my mother's treatment again. (Your basic good cop/bad cop routine in which I am an unwilling participant.) Instead, she smiled and joked. He smiled and joked. I was just grateful there was no actual flirting going on.
Of course, then she had to mention uva ursi and the asparagus and 6-pack of classic Coke treatment for kidney stones at which point the doctor got a strange look on his face, walked out of the room and never returned. After a few minutes mom and I looked at each other and shrugged.
The nurse scheduled her for lithotripsy on Thursday which is where they use a sonic blast to vaporize your kidney stone. I think I saw that done on a Superman cartoon once.
On the way out, Julius decided we were to only walk on the strips of dark green carpet. I went along with it. Mom walked up and stepped on the light part of the carpet. I said, "You can't do that. You have to walk on the dark part."
She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "We're walking on the dark part?"
I nodded as this guy about my age walked past. He had dark hair, a beard and was loaded down with three bags. He wore socks with sandals. He smiled, indicating he'd overheard us and glanced down at the carpet.
I pointed to him. "You, too. Only the dark parts."
He hopped on to the dark strip that was in front of him and turned to follow it all the way across to the other side of the lobby where another green strip ran perpendicular so he could walk to the other end of the building.
I fell into line behind him, then Julius, then Mom, all of us walking in this crazy single file down the dark green strip of carpet. I could feel all the Pod Mistresses staring at us.
Mom says, "What happens if we step on the light part?"
I said, "Alligators will eat you."
"Oh," she said and kept following.
We were nearly at the door when another green stripe made a T at the stripe we were on. Sock & Sandal Guy did a little sidestepping, grape-vine maneuver sideways back across the lobby to the other side where his family was waiting. I gave him the thumbs up. I think he probably does line-dancing on the weekends.
At the lobby doors the three of us remaining stopped and looked at the great expanse of light carpet before us. There was no way to get from here to there without going into the pit of alligators. I leaned way over and waved my papers in front of the door sensor to open it and told Julius to try to jump across while I held the door open.
The Pod Mistress behind me laughed. I said, "One... Two... Three... JUMP!" He, of course, didn't make it. I didn't make it either. Even my mom with her kidney stone tried to jump. She is the only one who made it, claiming she stepped across on the back of the biggest alligator.
The glass doors slid shut behind us and we headed to the car.
"Don't step on the cracks," Julius said. And we didn't.