Waiting Room

By Lisa Scottoline

They say the country is polarized, but I think it depends on where you go.

Follow me.

Into the waiting room for your mammogram.

Before I begin, let me first state the obvious.

Breast cancer is a serious subject and I don’t mean to make light of it.

However, my job is to brighten your day.

So with that in mind, read on.

And don’t think I’m a boob.

So let’s go into the waiting room for a mammogram, where there are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, but none of us is wearing our red or blue team colors. We’ve put our clothes away in a locker and we’re all wearing the same thing, like a uniform for a school you never wanted to go to.

It’s not the silky black robe that they give you at the hair salon.

Or the paper gown they give you at the gynecologist.

I’ve mastered only one of these items of apparel.

Every time I go to the gynecologist, the nurse hands me a paper gown, tells me to get changed, and rattles off the directions. Then she leaves the room and I have no idea what to do.

Bra off?

Underwear off?

Does the opening go in the front or the back?

I mean the opening of the gown.

I know the location of the other opening.

I’m not that dumb.

Anyway in the early days, I took everything off and put the paper gown on with the opening in the front, which seemed to make the most sense.

Then the doctor came in with her nurse, and they tried not to laugh.

I was like, What?

I looked like the star of the worst porno ever.

You would never pay to see my porno.

Somebody would have to pay you to see my porno.


Pap Porn.

I do better with the hair-salon robe, but I always drop the belt it in the toilet.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this.

I can’t be around a belt of any kind.

My waist is allergic.

To return to point, the most luxurious robe you will ever get is the one for your mammogram. The one I had was a soft and gray, which was chic, but too on-the-nose for a mammogram.

Like, am I going to live, die, or somewhere in the middle?

Especially those of us who have dense breasts.

By the way, this is every single woman I know. I don’t think there’s a woman on the planet who does not have dense breasts.

And I’m not really sure what having dense breasts means except that you’re going to have to take the mammogram two or three times, which is no fun but may also cause what happened to me the other day.

Which was a waiting room party.

Because I was stuck in the little room of dense-breasted women who were on their second or third try, like retake day for school pictures without the free comb.

And I started making conversation because I don’t get out enough.

I said something like I was nervous, and then we all started talking about how we were nervous, and we shared all the hopeful and scary stories we knew, and when each one of us got called out to retake the mammogram, we waited in suspense for her to come back.

Luckily we all got good news, and each time, we burst into relieved applause and cheers for each other.

A group of total strangers, who had nothing in common except breasts.

And hearts.

Because we know that every day, some women are not so lucky.

All human beings are subject to the same fears and joys.

And when you strip us down and put us in a robe, we can find that commonality.

And not just in a mammogram waiting room.

Because in truth, we’re all of us in a waiting room, all the time.

Whether we’re female or male.

We’re all going to get bad news someday, and if you keep that in mind, then you see that life is in one big waiting room.

It’s not about the mammogram.

It’s about the big picture.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2023