“Your friend from piano school had the procedure, right?” Jeanie’s mother made conversation as they waited together for the doctor to enter the small sterile room. It was true that Kristin had undergone the operation. Jeanie didn’t hang out with her anymore. She had decided to quit piano soon after. Jeanie wondered if she would still enjoy playing music after it was over.
The girl was terrified of what was to come. Although she tried to hide her emotions behind a staunch pale face. She ignored her mother’s idle chatter and focused on the positive side effects of the operation.
She recalled an incident last year. Back to school shopping with her mother. She had found a skirt that she really liked. Her mother’s stipulations were that she must try it on before she’d consider buying it for her. She attempted to approach a sales clerk. The anxiety was overpowering. “I can’t find anyone to open the dressing room” She’d excused herself. “I’ll help you” her mother offered.
Relief settled over her nerves. Her mother led her through the maze of clothing racks pushed too close together. At the back of the store a young woman with cherry red lips and raccoon painted eyes was folding shirts. Jeanie wasn’t expecting her mother to shove her towards the attendant.
She knew what she was supposed to do. She knew that she should open her mouth and ask if the woman would mind opening up a dressing room for her. That was her job after all she would have been more than happy to oblige her. Still Jeanie couldn’t muster the courage to ask the woman.
She took small faltering steps raising the skirt up then folding it over her arm and pushing it down. The beginnings of words came out in hoarse squeaks but nothing discernable left her lips. The raccoon eyes stared back in confusion. When the situation had reached an acme of absurdity Jeanie’s mother stepped in.
“Can we get a dressing room? She’d like to try this on.” “Oh is that what she wanted? Sure thing.” “I’m sorry,” Her mother apologized for the girl, “It must be difficult to be so painfully shy.”
Jeanie tried on the skirt. It looked very handsome on her. It would have gone perfectly with her new navy jacket but the experience was ruined. Jeanie was mortified and her mother hadn’t bought her the skirt anyway. She would never embarrass her mother like that again.
She thought of overhearing her mother and grandmother’s conversations. They would discuss why it was so important that she have this procedure done. They had such high hopes for her. As the eldest child she was very responsible. She did exceptionally well in academics. And she had a real future in music.
Her grandmother had offered to pay for the procedure as if it were as routine as her sister Andrea’s orthodontia. “I know that Jeanie’s a lovely girl,” persuaded her grandmother, “but she’ll never attain her true potential if she stays in her shell all her life. Think of her music. How will she ever be a good performer? This procedure is just what she needs.”
She always found these conversations infuriating. It wasn’t so much their content as the fact that they never included her. Comments would be made to her face but the real discussions and decisions were completed behind her back. It was as if they thought her social incompetence inhibited her ability to think for herself. No one would think that anymore.
The doctor walked in with a crisp white lab coat and clipboard in hand. Her mother listened to all of the side effects, warnings, things to expect and look forward to. Jeanie stared at the one defiantly upturned blind covering the window fighting back her tears.
“I hope you’re ready for a new and improved daughter Mrs. Pine”. She had heard it all before having fully researched the procedure months before scheduling the appointment. She knew that her daughter may have difficulty adjusting to her old life with a new personality but she was willing to make allowances for that.
She would enroll her in a new school if need be. Sacrifices were easily made for one’s children. She was doing this in Jeanie’s best interest after all. She had prepared Andrea for the changes to expect in her sister. The mother fully believed that this procedure would improve all their relationships. The doctor assured them both that it was very safe.