I went out to see the dentist today (just a regular check up during which he told me that I took too much care of my teeth and people like me put him out of business). Prior to being admitted into the clinic, however, I had to wait. Since I haven’t waited for anyone, or anything, in such a long time, this particular wait proved to be one of the longest.
I arrived at 12:55 to my 1:00 p.m. appointment. There was a patient in there and an old man in the waiting room. At first, I thought he was the secretary, but then I thought against it. The room seemed tiny when I entered, but now that I recall the two large coaches and three other smaller ones I realize that the room’s size was bigger than what I had thought. I sat on a grey coach, embroidered by rectangular patterns on the sitting area. The plain remainders of the coach made me believe that the dentist was trying to salvage two different sofas and ended up with that mess.
“First time here?” the man asked, again making me think that he was the secretary.
“Yes,” I smiled politely eying the fashion magazine he clutched with his thick hands.
The muted music channel was showing a video of a five-year-old song, my phone had no internet connection, the dentist’s roaring tools indicated that I will be waiting a while, and I had no interest whatsoever in aimlessly turning the pages of a fashion magazine. All I wished in that moment was to have a book in my bag that I can read to pass the few, yet dull, moments.
Yesterday, I finished reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, an interesting classic of which I will later post a review. On my shelf, there are but two unread books: The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking (a little sciency), and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. On my iPad, there are tens of unread classical and modern titles, and I still have several bought books which are stored but not yet shipped from Amazon. I hardly ever let my iPad out of the house. Leaving a few minutes prior to my appointment, I hadn’t thought that I would need any means of entertainment.
My mother told me that in Ukraine the majority of people carried books during their daily commutes. She told me that she carried a book at all times – just like we carry earphones nowadays. Not only do I envy the pre-internet culture, but I also envy the people who can read when riding a train or a bus. We don’t have trains in Lebanon; and with our bumpy roads and crazy drivers, I get motion sickness just by staring at my telephone’s screen. Mostly, however, I’m envious because I wasn’t brought up to carry a book with me at all times. In the stretched time during my wait for the dentist, I disdained my culture the most.
I grabbed my phone, and started writing. I wrote everything that came up to my mind, from a note to self to leave a 30 minute grace period between one patient and the other in case I was incarnated as a dentist, to the recapitulation of my to-do list. I wrote till the notepad told me to stop (apparently, I had reached some character limit). Then, I got my check up, went to have my nails done, waited another few minutes for the nail polish to dry (again without being entertained), and then stood across the street to wait for a cab. In that moment, I couldn’t help but head to the book store. I’m never leaving the house without a book again.