So I’ll get to the meaning of THIS picture in a second. I was at the office of this bone guy, whose waiting room as I walked in held just one elderly couple. The husband of the pair was filling out his wife’s health history on a clipboard.
“Knee problems,” he told me cheerily, nodding toward his spouse, who within the space of 30 seconds had thrown back her head, closed her eyes and begun performing an aria of happy snores.
Just as suddenly, she snapped awake and shot me an assessing look.“Nice you clothes,” she told to me in a heavy, Slavic-sounding accent.
I glanced down to see what I was wearing, because you know how it is: you’re not always sure just what you’ve ended up putting on in the morning. “Well, thanks!” I said.
I knew I would miss my visit to the Y that day, so instead of donning my usual crummy workout gear, I had on a forest green boot-length corduroy skirt very wide at the hem and a fur jacket that I have owned since the impenitent, over-the-top 80s when I found it for 60 bucks in an antique store down the road.
“All my life I work in clothes,” she said. “I am knowing good clothes.”
I would have asked more about that, but just then I was called into one of the examination rooms of this new-to-me doctor, who scrutinized my bent toy kite of a spine and asked about my daily life.
I mentioned the Zumba classes I take thrice-weekly at the local Y.
“Zumba?!” he repeated. “Zumba’s all wrong for you. You can’t be sending your thoracic region in one direction and your hips in the other! No more Zumba!”
“No more Zumba? “ I squeaked. “It’s the only thing I do that makes my back pain stop!’
“It’s CAUSING your back pain.”
“I don’t think so.”
“I think so.”
“What happened to ‘Movement is life’?” I said.
“What happened to ‘Listen to your doctor’?” he said.
We looked at each other for a beat. Then, “Is this our first fight?” I said. “Listen the dancing is mostly salsa, where you keep your chest fairly still and just send your hips out to the right and the left.”
He shook his head.
We talked a little more, then he wrote me a prescription for physical therapy and suggested I also see a back surgeon.
Fat chance I’m having back surgery, I thought to myself.
“He’s a surgeon, you know, and a prominent one,” he said. “He’ll hurry into the room surrounded by younger doctors. Don’t be afraid to slow him down. Make him answer your questions. Stand your ground.”
“I’m thinking that won’t be a problem for you,” he added, smiling.
I smiled too, thanked him, and after we shook hands I returned to the waiting room, where the woman and her husband still sat in their chairs.
The woman got right back to work examining me.
“Good clothes,” she nodded as much to herself as to me.
I looked down at myself more self-consciously this time, and picked up the end of the dark-green, tan and cream-colored scarf I had thrown around the neck of my jacket.
“The scarf isn’t right though, is it? I tried to find a better scarf but I don’t seem to have one.”
“No,” she said. “Scarf no good. The rest OK. Nice you clothes,” she said again.
“Happy to meet you!” exclaimed her husband and with that we all bowed to one another and said our farewells – but not before I thought to myself how much I do appreciate frankness, wherever I chance to encounter it.