During the two hours I was waiting for to be treated -- after the hour I had been in the waiting room -- the mother was having a whole 'nother experience.
There was the couple in their 20s. He was blond and bearded, wearing a ball cap. The sleeves of his T-shirt barely concealed the tats that ran up and down each forearm. Another peeked out from beneath a shoe and still another flanked the edge of an eyebrow. She was darker-haired, probably shoulder-length (it was clipped up in the back so I can't be sure) and visibly pregnant. The first things I noticed was that she was clutching a pack of cigarettes. They had a little girl with them, maybe 3.
There were only a handful of others in the waiting room.
When I emerged, the mother was surrounded by people. The room was full.
As we reunited with Pearl, the mother filled me in. "There was a bar fight," the mother said. Some guy was beating his girlfriend on a parking lot. This got another couple pummeled as they tried to break it up. And then when the abuser's friends came over, more people came to assist and it turned into a free-for-all.
I knew something must have happened as a cop stuck his head in my room at one point and I heard him ask the orderly where "the fight" patients were.
The mother said they were a rowdy bunch. F this and motherf'er that flew freely in the waiting room. The mother chided them as there was a child present. "They knocked it off, too."
The mother couldn't be left alone that long and not get in on a conversation. She apparently at one point told them why I was there. She said that one of the guys who had tried to subdue the girlfriend-beater quickly asked: "Did some guy do that to her? I'd go kick his ass for her."
The mother was quick to tell him that if some guy had done that, he wouldn't live to tell anyone about it. She said that made him laugh. That made me laugh. If the worst of my childhood was good for nothing else, it made me completely beating intolerant. (If a man ever were to hit me, he'd better make d*mn sure I was dead or he'd live to regret it.)
There was also a newborn baby. The mother knew about the baby because she saw its mother and grandmother. I knew about it because while I had glimpsed both of them in the waiting room before disappearing on my own odyssey, I saw them again in the treatment area, the tiny baby's room catty cornered from mine.
The baby was OK from what I could overhear but was being taken to St. Louis just to be safe.
Sounds like I wasn't the only one who had an interesting night.