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RSVPhillippi | November 2019

Dennis Phillippi


There’s a good chance you are reading this in a room filled with miserable people. That’s because you very well might be reading this in a waiting room. Everyone in every waiting room is miserable.  You’re almost never in a waiting room waiting for something good.  You’re waiting to see a dentist or a doctor. You’re waiting to find out how much that weird leak in your passenger door is going to cost you. You’re waiting for some girl with a nose ring that talks too much to give you a questionable haircut. Trust me, if you’re reading this in a waiting room, look around and try to find someone who is having a good time. I’ll wait.

See? No one at a doctor’s office is enjoying the rerun of a home renovation show. No one in the body shop waiting room is into the endless tedium that is Fox News. If someone in a psychiatrist’s waiting room seems to be having a blast, move away from them as calmly as possible.

One thing about this magazine is that it has a half-life longer than strontium. I have stumbled onto copies of RSVP a decade old. No one throws RSVP away because it’s big and shiny and filled with pictures of what appear to be perfectly nice people. It just seems rude to throw that away. A copy of a celebrity magazine has pictures of pretty people too, but they’re not people you’d want to have an actual conversation with. Celebrities, and I say this from some experience, tend to be both arrogant and stupid at the same time, a terrible combination for a nice chat. Those magazines you throw away without a twinge, but this one, well, it’s just too nice to toss. And you got it for free.

If you’re in a waiting room chances are you’re sitting in a chair that is just comfortable enough. Whatever business you’re in doesn’t want people complaining all day about the chairs, but they also don’t want a bunch of unconscious people lying around. It’s probably upholstered, but has hard fake wood arms that are unyielding and at a severe 90-degree angle. The lighting is also punitive. There’s no question that fluorescent lighting is the logical choice economically for a large space, but it’s not the logical choice for human eyes. As often as not a ceiling festooned with bars of fluorescent bulbs has that one that is on its way out and blinks erratically. The people who work there have long since stopped noticing it, so it never gets fixed. It’s just there to torture someone who is already about to get a root canal. The artwork in waiting rooms is apparently ordered from the same place that manufactures the chairs. There are prints of paintings in elaborate frames that are just good enough to not be offensive, but no better. They’re not shelling out the dough for artwork anyone wants to spend any time actually enjoying.  

You chose RSVP for your viewing pleasure out of all of the various other publications scattered around the room. The choice of reading material in waiting rooms has always been baffling to me. Some of them, my eye doctor, for instance, seem to care about the quality of the magazines and provide a wide selection. There are sports magazines that feature athletes who are still playing. There are cooking magazines that haven’t had half the recipes ripped out by people who are never going to make them.

Then there are the other ones. One of my doctors has nothing but quarterly medical journals. If I am at her office the last thing I want to look at is other medical conditions I might have. The place I get my bodywork done exclusively has hunting and fishing magazines, neither of which I do.  Even if I did hunt or fish, I find it hard to believe I would want to read about other people hunting and fishing. if you want to worry about the future, flip to the back of a hunting magazine and check out the ads. Serious hunters also seem to expect the world to end in a way that will make their unique set of skills suddenly very handy. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to survive that particular world-ending scenario.

Of course the worst part of waiting rooms, like in so many other parts of life, is the other people. We’ve established that no one around you is having a super time, but they’re still around you. Most of them are probably looking at their phone. This is one of the few places where I’m happy to have everyone looking at their phone.  That way they’re not looking at me. Or talking to me. Pretty much no matter what type of waiting room we’re sharing I’m certain I don’t want to talk to you. There is no situation where I picture myself wanting to hear about a stranger’s medical condition. Under no circumstances do I want to see the weird spot on your neck that’s been freaking you out. It’s bad enough that literally 100% of the people sharing the room with me are sick, and look sick, I do not want to discuss it. Honestly, I’m trying not to breathe the same air as you. Please feel free to not share with me that you’re at the dentist because you cracked a crown on some popcorn. Start that and I’m going to crack your crown.  

I hope you’re enjoying this copy of RSVP at least. This magazine provides a valuable service to the community. It provides a fantasy getaway that is genuinely within your grasp. You can’t pick up a travel magazine and picture yourself flying off to Fiji for a month. But you can look at RSVP and imagine yourself going to a charity auction with free cups of white wine. Just leaf through and see yourself standing around with pretty people all dressed up. Nice huh?