Waiting by the Library One Freezing Morning

The pressed kiss of my buttocks
against the cold concrete is mediated by
the thin cloth of my jeans
This bench is a parasite
Across its placenta of 96% cotton and 4% spandex
it steals every molecule of heat
from my begrudging ass

In games of waiting I am a sore loser
with muscles aching and contorted from
spasms of shivering
teased out by every cold breeze
each of them lovers – must be
to garner such
instantaneous, overwhelming reactions

The wind caresses my face with ice
kisses the tip of my nose with frostbite
attempts other intimate contact
I would like to defer

There is nowhere to run,
only the cold confines
of this damn stone bench
pressed up against my backside
like some
unsolicited dance partner

I cannot wait
for this waiting
to be done.

The Biting Wit, the Bitter Cold

It was a laparoscopic hernia repair (bilateral Lichtenstein, if you’re interested) in theatre seven at the UHWI. Late morning in what could be called the winter months but which was really a sunny day in February. The hum of air conditioning set the scene.

When you step into operating theatre, you’re greeted by a temperature drop. That’s fine. Equipment might overheat.

You change into scrubs, grab your shoe covers, cap and mask and trod down to the very last theatre at the end of the drab concrete-coloured row. The paint perks up a little when you hit theatre six but so does the AC.

The AC.

Dante’s Inferno should be rewritten with Frozen’s Elsa in the starring role, because you cannot imagine any kind of hell more intolerable than a cold one. Like the nine circles, you descend through seven unforgiving levels of frigidity. (Theatres one and two are out, you know. Electricity problem. Which puts the recovery room/anaesthesia headquarters a step above purgatory, uncomfortably playing into their established superiority complexes).

You sit on your hands, stick them up your armpits, fail to cover them with your scrub top because there’s always a bit of skin sticking out with hair sticking up. Your fingernails turn blue. You lose focus of the screen with its graspers and scissors and capillaries. At the same time you realize you’re hungry, you realize there are probably a million students in the room and no one will notice if one of you goes missing. One does.

You buy coffee. And a biscuit. You stick your hand out of the change room window to grab at sunlight and get snickered at by a passing porter.

You go back. It’s more tolerable. Minutes pass. Your boyfriend retracts his arms into the body of his shirt straight-jacket style and the short sleeves flap around comically. He keeps offering handshakes. Your bare arms have goosebumps. More time passes. They’re unrolling the mesh now. Then tacking it in. Then suturing the umbilical incision (finally).

“Meet me in the classroom,” says your wavy-haired consultant.

After two tries you all find the classroom and open windows to let the sun in despite the plexiglass that cuts you off from the outside. You stretch your palm out along its transparency but it just feels cold.

When a nurse comes in to turn the AC on, a dozen seniors and half as many juniors screech NO.

“You guys are cold?”

Yes we’re cold.”

“But Dr. Wavy-Hair is hot.”

On cue, Dr. Wavy-Hair walks in. “Your students are cold,” the nurse tells him archly. He surveys you all for a moment over rimless lenses then quips, “Too bad.”

You survive the next hour by sitting on your hands and fantasizing about arson. When you’re finally released you step into the nearest patch of sunlight and press your palms to glass that is actually warm and shiver a bit when a strong breeze passes. You stand there in the sun and you wait and wait and wait for the warmth to reach your bones.

When going to a hockey game in Mona, Kingston

Tips on being a spectator from someone whose only prior experience involved a TV and a sofa.

Bring the biggest, warmest sweater you own. Or that someone else owns. I froze my butt off almost literally yesterday from sitting on the metal bleachers. Nor was I wearing the warmest of blouses. And jeans don’t help.

Bring a cushion for you tush-on. Like I mentioned, the dangers of butt-freeze are clear and present. Protect your gluteus maximus with a cushion, or a bag with no breakables like glasses tucked away in invisible pockets. Be especially careful of glasses.

Expect it to get very boring very quickly. The games started out whizzing by at super speeds, but by the time the last match rolled around I was counting down the seconds. Patience is a tropical virtue. Nobody likes to be waiting when they can’t feel their toes.

Bring hot food. All those movies and series I watched where spectators took Thermoses full of soup to night games obviously went over my head. I was left cold and starving for the two hours it took them to finish playing. Learn from my mistakes.

Keep your eyes on the action. Sitting in the stands is actually very distracting. You’ve got the Bajan trio in front of you discussing everything from Rihanna to the exchange rate; the irate council member at the back having a “private” conversation in stage whispers; and the pissed off and injured members of the girls’ team who keep lambasting their team mate. Keeping your eyes on the ball – or at least your favourite player – proves difficult, especially when good plays disappear in the blink of an eye.

Be enthusiastic. It’s easy to forget your frozen appendages, your empty stomach and your splitting headache when you’re on your feet cheering for your favourite player. For someone who knows absolutely nothing about hockey, I was actually kept enthralled by the game because I was enthusiastic about that one player.


I hope these encourage someone to come keep me company on the bleachers next time.