February 5, 2006

Two months later, I got sick of being patient and called him. He'd married someone else.

All my life, people have told me to be patient. And I've always thought that they must know something I don't. The only good thing about patience is that it gives you time to adapt to things not working out.

I'd rather have that information as soon as possible. Maybe it's because I grew up in New York, where nobody has time to wait. Three seconds after you sit down, someone asks: "What do you want?" The food arrives - and the plate is removed while you're still chewing.
Out to dinner in London the other night, I tried to pay attention to what my friend was talking about, but all I could think of was: "Where is the menu?" We hadn't even ordered and I could feel the grey hair sprouting.

If you're an impatient person in London, even getting coffee becomes an ordeal. I was in Starbucks and I turned to the woman behind me and said: "Finding a cure for Alzheimer's would take less time." You know what she said? "Patience is a virtue."
Why? Whoever came up with that must have been trying to draw attention away from the fact that something was about to go awry. Maybe it was a doctor reassuring someone who'd been asking why their new kidney was taking so long.

There are plenty of instances where patience doesn't pay off. A plane crash, for instance. If those emergency exit doors open up, how does sitting patiently help? Or if I'm in a foreign country and I'm bitten on the toe by a weird insect. Should I be patient and see if my foot falls off?

The worst is being told to be patient when waiting for a man to call. I did that once. Two months later, I got sick of being patient and called him.

Guess what - he'd married someone else.

Here's something I have no patience for. A bath. But saying you don't like a bath is like saying you don't like babies or firemen. I've been told that bathing is one of the great pleasures in life. Really? Where's the joy in sitting in a tub of dirty water that's getting colder by the second? The other day, a friend told me he had missed his train because he was in the bath. "You mean trapped?" I asked, presuming his big toe had got wedged in the tap.

I've never understood what's so great about baths - in the time it takes to run the water and get the temperature right, I could have had five showers and queued for coffee (if I were in London). If I have to bathe, I'm nervous that water will spill and I'll slip and fracture a disc. There I'll be, lying on my cold tile floor, with no way to reach my phone. Not that I'd want to: I couldn't face being rescued without any clothes on. That's the only time I could endure being patient. I'd sooner bleed to death than face paramedics naked. Except it probably takes too long to bleed to death.