At first I was going to say that this post was NSFW, but upon reflection, that’s TRUE, but an incomplete caution. This post is not safe for work, home, in your car, with a fox, in a box, or with any breakfast product, rhyming or not. Honestly it’s not safe anyone at all.
If there are small children in the room, do not read this post. If you are of delicate sensibility, please do not read this post. If you are not in the mood to be completely horrified, for the love of God: I’m trying to explain to you that you should not read this post.
If you—like me—believe that the only redeeming value of being completely traumatized is in then sharing that trauma with others, and relishing in their anguished squirming and scream-whispers of, “No! NO! THAT DID NOT HAPPEN!!” then you might like to read this post. But you can’t say I didn’t warn you, because I did. REPEATEDLY.
Dare to read on? Alrighty, then. HAVE I GOT A STORY FOR YOU!
Yesterday I took Chickadee to therapy. This is unremarkable, for the most part. (Well, it is remarkable to me that her therapist is awesome and Chickie goes willingly, because that’s both lovely and very different than past experience, but all of THAT is a different story altogether.) This was not her regular day, for reasons which are unimportant. What is important: We went to therapy.
Chickie’s therapist is part of a largish practice with a sizable waiting room. Generally when we go there, we go up to the desk, sign in, pay, and then go find a place to sit. We are typically surrounded by multiple other families, and often a large passel of kids of varying ages. One time there was a little girl playing with her older brother who had a giggle that sounded EXACTLY like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, and the entire waiting room was in stitches, listening to her laugh. It’s usually a bustling place.
Yesterday was different (hooboy, was it different…) in that her appointment was at the end of the day, and when we arrived, there was no one else in the waiting room. It was quiet and that was weird. The woman who checks us in was nowhere to be found, either—turns out she was taking out the trash when we arrived. Well, no matter. We sat down and waited, and when she returned, I went up to give her our payment.
While I was paying, a young man came through the door and got in line behind me. He was maybe… 20? I don’t know. As I finished paying I noticed that he was standing a little too close—I had to do kind of a loop forward and then around to get away from the desk and back to Chickadee without running into him—and I didn’t think much of it other than maybe a brief mental flash of the Seinfeld bit about the “close talker.” As I retreated, he smiled at me.
I went back to where Chickadee was waiting, and sat down next to her. Remember—we were the only ones there, and the waiting room is pretty big. Smiley finished at the desk and came and sat down directly across from us. I mean, DIRECTLY ACROSS, when there were easily a dozen other chairs he could’ve selected. Ooooookay. Chickadee was buried in her phone, texting a friend, and I pulled out my own phone to check my email.
So I’m staring at my phone (which is basically in my lap) and Chickie’s staring at her phone (which is basically in her lap) and my phone dings because I have a new text message. I click over to my texts, and it’s from Chickadee. I’m about to give her a hard time because she’s sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME, but her message reads: “That person is disturbing me.”
I glance up, and our buddy Smiley is still smiling at us—beaming, really—like it’s the greatest day ever. He’s also masturbating at a frenetic pace. I’m talking hand-inside-his-pants, going-to-town. I hastily looked back down at my phone and texted back to Chickie, “I hadn’t even noticed and now I’m skeeved out.” Except my phone autocorrected “skeeved” to “sleeved” and then my poor confused daughter was all, “He’s been doing that since he sat down. Also: sleeved???”
We sat there, and my mind raced. What was the right thing to do? We were safe, there was no imminent threat to our well-being (I mean, other than the mental trauma and the wanting to bleach our eyeballs out), and I think I was afraid that if we moved or otherwise drew any attention to ourselves that… I don’t even know. It would escalate, somehow? It would be like that scene in Silence of the Lambs and one of us would end up covered in semen? I DON’T KNOW, I WAS UPSET. And just when it seemed like maybe I should DO something, Smiley’s therapist emerged and Smiley withdrew his hand from his pants like everything was perfectly normal and stood up and greeted his doctor and disappeared down the hall.
I watched, transfixed, sure that the unsuspecting doctor would shake his hand and I would perish on the spot from the grossness of observing an Unknowing Penis Residue Handshake.
After they left, Chickadee and I looked at each other and began giggling hysterically, because we are toddlers, and then HER therapist came to get her, and then it was just me in the waiting room. I sat there, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. (I mean, the only other place I’ve experienced this before is on the subway in Manhattan. And there everyone just looks away and gets off the train as soon as possible. This seemed different.) Finally, I went back up to the desk (the way the woman up there sits, she doesn’t have a clear view of the waiting area), and said, “Heyyyyyy… this is kind of awkward, buuuuuuut….”
She was horrified. Which: you know, that was comforting. You know when you tell somebody about something awful and you’re kind of checking their reaction, all, “Well maybe it’s not as bad as I think it is…?” And then when they’re all HOLY SHIT THAT IS NOT OKAY you’re somewhat disappointed that you’re NOT just being a drama queen, but also vindicated in the knowledge that yeah, it really was appropriate that now all you want is one of those Silkwood showers.
“This will be addressed. Immediately,” she assured me. And then she picked up her phone and texted the doctor who’d taken Smiley into the back. SO.
Confident that I’d done my part in this bizarre little series of events, I commenced texting people to say ZOMG PUBLIC MASTURBATOR AT THE THERAPIST’S OFFICE WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK??
A while later, Chickadee’s therapist came out and asked me to come on back—we often do a parent check-in as part of her session—and I found myself very relieved to be leaving the waiting room. As I settled into the loveseat in the doc’s office, I informed Chickie (and her inquiring eyebrows; I love that kid’s facial expressions so much) that I’d spoken to the powers that be about our experience, and she said, “Oh, good. THAT WAS NOT OKAY.”
This, of course, led to the derailment of my child’s therapy as we explained to her doctor what had happened, and if I hadn’t loved her doc before, I certainly did after this. The first thing she said when we told her what we’d witnessed—after re-gathering her dropped jaw—was, “Well that is… CLINICALLY SIGNIFICANT.” (Bwahahahahahaaaaaa!) And then the second thing was, “Well, I think that’s the third worst thing that’s happened in our waiting room since I’ve been here.” Which, WHAT? Naturally we pressed to hear what would be WORSE than this, and hey, WHADDAYA KNOW, they had a guy die in there once (sleep apnea!), and also they sometimes have to call DFCS when people are, y’know, actually beating their kids in public.
So relax! Therapy waiting room fapper was only the THIRD worst, y’all. THANK GOODNESS.
We managed to switch back to the topic at hand (oh my God, AT HAND, I CAN’T STOP) and finished the session with some discussion of things which were NOT creepy public masturbators, and then we said goodbye and left. I can’t speak for Chickadee, but I felt a rare urgency as we darted out the car—maybe Smiley had already left, but I wasn’t interested in running into him again.
I think it’s fair to say that we laugh-shrieked all the way home. My sides ached and I was in tears by the time we pulled into the driveway. Chickadee started it with, “That was NOT OKAY! I am scarred for life! I’m gonna need YEARS of therapy!” When I pointed out that that was lucky because fortunately she already has a great therapist, she added, “IN A DIFFERENT OFFICE.”
At one point I said, “Well maybe he was just—” and Chickadee cut me off with a flat, “NO. YOU KNOW WHAT HE WAS JUST.” And we howled. We couldn’t stop. What else can you do?
“You’re going to write about this, right?” she asked, as we neared home. I hesitated. “What?? MOM, you can’t NOT write about this. I mean, it’s like, not even an OPTION. You have to! You’ve been saying nothing interesting has happened to you lately! HERE YOU GO!”
Yeeeeeeeah. Um. Here’s to nothing else “interesting” happening to me.