The Game

You know the feeling when you’re staring at a wall in the waiting room before you finally head into the doctor’s or the dentist’s or the DMV? The overarching feeling of dread mixed with boredom mixed with excitement mixed with that Quesalupa you ate for lunch. All of that just rocking and rolling in your stomach.

I play a game while I’m waiting. The game is called “What if” and it goes like this…

What if… [fill in the blank]. Then what will I do?

Now I know this isn’t the healthiest activity, but I can’t help myself. I need to figure out all possible options, all potential actions. It’s as if I’m trying to pluck the strings of fate and listen to their harmonies before the maestro begins the symphony.

I imagine conversations, opportunities, people I haven’t met, things I haven’t done. All of them colliding in my head in a clash of possibilities. It drives me mad.

I can’t look at my phone, read a magazine, or distract myself for too long while I’m waiting. The elixer of the mind pulls me in. There is no better drug than what worlds you can build in your own head.

But is this a good habit or a bad one? Over analysis leads to paralysis. But being underprepared is a worse fate.

I hate being late. When someone is waiting for me, I know they’re already playing the game in their head. I start out one step behind, miscalculating making missteps and mispronouncing their name, my memory being indulged in the game even though reality has already caught up. I prefer waiting. Waiting like a coiled viper, like a loyal and steadfast friend, like an ambush.

I’m impatient. Waiting should make me better, stronger, aged like wine, forged like steel in the fire of a midday sun sitting outside with no shade drinking hot coffee black. I vibrate constantly. I don’t sleep, I rarely dream except for now. Head in the clouds, sometimes I don’t notice the obvious, the inconsequential, the hidden, the…

“Mr. Roth, they’re ready for you.”