I'm in a waiting room at the dentist's. There is a circle of chairs, a TV on mute, and one other woman.
The woman and I chat on and off. She is waiting for her son, a 14 year old with many cavities, and some anxiety that began when a tornado touched down in New York State.
"I'd told him that tornadoes most certainly don't come to where we live. Wouldn't ya know it, next day, it's confirmed that one touched down here. He's been scared shitless ever since."
She takes the remote and unmutes the television. The newscaster describes a tornado in height, width, level of destruction, and velocity. Photos are shown, live footage slowly moves across piles of rubble. "This used to be a 3 story house. See here that it now is a pile of wood." I bite my cheeks, the woman sucks in her breath.
The reporter gets a gleam and says, "Now watch this."
Cut to a homemade video of a couple in their car as the tornado blows at them with speed and certainty, in agonizing force.
The sound of the car accelerating as they try to get beyond it.
The sound of her wimpering as she films with an unsteady hand.
Him clearing his throat repeatedly.
Her wimpers turning to pleas.
The woman in the waiting room turns to me, clucks her tongue. "And they wonder why kids are so nervous today, you know? Showing this stuff! As if we don't get it with the pile of a neighborhood, they have to show this."
I find myself nodding in agreement. "I wonder too," I say, "if it's desensitized us. Maybe we're so accustomed to seeing these images that we no longer feel..."
"Holy crap!" the woman points to the screen. "Have you seen this one. This is the one---watch this---that motor home right there---BOOM! Yup. He's not gonna make it."