How to jump to all the wrong conclusions while eavesdropping.

If you could have seen my Dad’s face. I tried to ignore him, I really did, but sitting in the doctor’s waiting room at half past six on a Monday evening when his appointment was at 5.15 it was hard not to overhear the rather loud conversation going on between two teenage girls behind us. I could just imagine what he was thinking. I could see him sort of try and turn around to see what these delinquents looked like. I knew that he wouldn’t be disappointed. They were sitting about 10 feet away so each had to speak up to make sure they were heard by the other. The furthest one away started talking about how her newly-pierced lip was agony, while the one directly behind us admired it and asked how much it hurt to have it done. Their conversation then widened out to compare how different places convey pain at differing levels. I knew where this was going. I knew that they aimed to shock. My Dad didn’t. He was shocked. He tried to catch my eye while I pointed out a potentially interesting magazine article in some attempt to distract – an upwards movement of the eyebrows, which I ignored and went back to looking at my riveting copy of Trainspotters Monthly.
The two sets – Lippy and Dad, Teen Mum and her Mum – started complaining about how long they were having to wait and how they were getting rather hungry. I turned and offered them some chewing gum using Lippy’s real name (Jasmine) and cooing over the cutest little pink-enveloped infant who belonged to the other girl. My Dad disappeared into his appointment and the rest of us had a chat. Jasmine’s Dad was still doing his historical re-enactments and his other two daughters were getting on well, as was his wife.
On the way home, in response to his disparaging remarks, I explained that he was too quick to judge – they were one of the loveliest families I had ever taught (all three girls having gone through my class at some time) and Jasmine’s lovely mother had gone out of her way to help him to paint the school play scenery about ten years before.
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