We are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. In the corner a TV is blaring. Sound and images come hurtling towards us. It’s impossible to ignore them and soon we are staring at the screen watching The Morning Show.
“What’s that for, Mum?” asks Gemma-Rose pointing at a machine on the television screen.
“You use it to get rid of unwanted hair like… if you had hairy legs,” I whisper.
“Hairy legs!” Gemma-Rose shouts. She screws up her face in disgust and then remembers something. “We have a lot of unwanted hair at home... The cats leave it everywhere.”
For a moment I sit there thinking about the electrolysis hair removal machine and our long-haired cats. Would it work? Surely they’d complain? My wicked lips start to curl into a smile as I imagine three bald cats. “I think the cats would protest and we can’t use that machine on carpets.” I explain to Gemma-Rose.
Now Larry is introducing a fashion expert: “Christmas is a very stressful time of year. There’s all the shopping to do and then all those parties to attend. Poor us. The last thing we want to be worried about is choosing the right clothes for the right occasion. So true. So Trevor has come on the show to help us with some fashion tips. Thank you, Trevor."
“A man can’t be a fashion expert,” protests Gemma-Rose indignantly. I glance around to see who’s listening.
“A lot of people are not sure what to wear when the invitation says smart casual. Yes, we've been worrying about that. Zoe has put together the perfect outfit." A model wiggles her way down the red carpet.
“Skinny red jeans and high heels! I wouldn’t wear those,” declares Gemma-Rose screwing up her nose again. “Look at those high glitter shoes! We saw some of those in the shop the other day. Could you walk in those, Mum?” I don’t think I could. Gemma-Rose and I smile at the thought of me tottering along.
Now an earnest lady is telling us about Mothers’ Rescue, a multi-vitamin for exhausted mothers. The woman looks very concerned. She wants to help... I'm a tired mother. I haven't enough energy. Perhaps I need this miraculous pill. But Gemma-Rose has other ideas. She's decided I don’t need Mother’s Rescue. It's not for me.
“You don’t need anything in a bottle to make you feel less tired, Mum. You have us. We help you with all the work.” Is that lady sitting opposite us smiling?
Gemma-Rose is probably right and by now we have moved onto Zumba DVDs. We sit mesmerised as all these super fit people keep time with the strong beat. They are all working hard and sweating profusely. They are full of energy. They probably eat Mothers’ Rescue by the handful. They all look like they are enjoying themselves immensely.
“You will burn up 1000 calories from one hour of Zumba,” promises a lithe and toned woman. I mentally compare that to the calories I burn up on the exercise bike. Zumba? It’s starting to sound good. I start to wonder how much the DVD set costs to buy.
“You couldn’t do that, Mum! Look at all those bare tummies. You couldn’t wear those clothes.” Yes, the clothes are rather skimpy revealing smooth, tanned, toned bodies. Perhaps the hair removal people should get together with the Zumba DVD people
“Couldn’t we do Zumba in our normal exercise clothes?” I ask Gemma-Rose. I forget to whisper.
Gemma-Rose is no longer listening to me. She’s staring with wide eyes at the Baywatch Babes bouncing their way across the beach towards the camera… and then Charlie’s Angels slink across the screen. She opens her mouth. What will she say? Then Maxwell Smart appears. Relief! He asks, “Don’t you think we should use the cone of silence, Boss?” Cone of silence? How about a cone of no vision? We're watching a segment about unsuccessful remakes of popular TV series. If they were such a flop why are we hearing about them again?
Then perfectly-styled-and-immaculately-made-up Kylie tells us who is getting married to whom, and who is expecting (how did everyone miss that baby bump?) What an education we’re getting in the doctor’s waiting room. How have we survived up to now without The Morning Show?
But eventually our heads start to ache: all those flashing pictures and loud music and repetitious ads. “When’s it our turn?” asks Gemma-Rose, starting to fidget. “The doctor’s taking an awfully long time.” She’s lost interest in the TV.
Finally her name is called and we are ushered into the doctor’s surgery. We learn Gemma-Rose has a bad case of eczema on her face. We also learn the doctor has yet to learn what is causing it.
We walk home. We are exhausted. We were at the doctor’s a long time. But it was worth it. We are clutching a tube of magic eczema fixing cream. Soon Gemma-Rose will no longer have an itchy face.
I think about that hour we spent in the waiting room. Chatting to an opinionative seven year old, with a loud voice and expressive features, can cause people to prick up their ears. They listen and stare. Do I care? No! Gemma-Rose and I had fun discussing all that nonsense from The Morning Show. Yes, we laughed and talked and pulled silly faces together as we learnt lots of useless stuff. Or was it useless? Was all that time in the waiting room a total waste of time? Or did we receive an unexpected education?
We now know that the $2 800 dollar electrolysis machine won’t solve our unwanted cat hair problem.
I learnt that if I didn't have so many children I would have to rely on Mothers’ Rescue multi-vitamin tablets to get me through each day.
Thanks to Trevor, we have become fashion experts. And we are now hoping we won’t get invited to any smart casual Christmas parties because none of us have tight, skinny, red jeans.
And the Zumba? Sounds like fun. But will I need Mothers’ Rescue to give me the necessary energy or will it be easy because I have lots of children?
Yes, everything in life is a potential learning experience, even The Morning Show in a crowded doctor’s waiting room on a Tuesday morning.