I may not be a psychotherapist, but I like to cure my patients’ psychoses whenever the opportunity arises. And I don’t do too badly for “winging it!”
This morning, I was stopped at the parking level entrance to my office, honking and flashing my lights at the red BMW in front of me. The driver had waited ‘til he drove all the way up to the ticket dispenser before he rolled down his window and stuck out his hand. Everybody knows you’re supposed to drive up with your hand already out the window, as it’s more efficient. Well, I was honking and flashing my lights and gunning my engine and yelling, “I’m late for my ten o’clock patient, you goon! Get out of my way!”
The driver stuck his head out the window, looked back at me and smiled a boyish smile. “Oh hello, Charles!”he called.
It was my 10 o’clock patient, an award-winning actor. “Hello Timothy,”I said. “How are you today? Think it’ll rain?”
“Golly,”he peeped, with a sideways tilt of his small, round head. “I sure hope not! I get awfully depressed when it rains. Why do you suppose that is?”
“Lot’s of people are like that, Timothy,”I said. “It’s your reaction to a shift in barometric pressure and it affects your brain chemistry. Don't worry about it.”
“Really?”he smiled hopefully.
“Yes,”I said. “Although you do have a tendency toward moodiness, so maybe it’s something we need to look at. It might have to do with the time your uncle fondled you and…”
A battered, old U-Haul exited from the opposite side of the gate, revving its motor loudly. Timothy looked at me, cupping his hand to his ear, as if to say, “Huh?”
I shouted louder this time, “It might have to do with the time your uncle fondled you! How’s the filming going on your new movie?” Four women carrying Clinique shopping bags stopped and gawked. “Move on, ladies!”I added, like the fierce protector that I am. “This is a private conversation!”
“It’s going just great, Charles!” Timothy called, as the U-Haul creaked away. “The director has no idea I’m sleeping with his wife!”
“That’s excellent!”I said proudly. I had realized early on that I could help Timothy by encouraging his self-exploration, and now he was making good progress. Two more ladies passed by with Clinique bags stuffed full of goodies. “And how’s the bed wetting, Timothy?”I said.
One woman mouthed these words to the other: “He wets his bed?!”
“Keep moving, ladies!”I shouted, leaning out the window and waving my hands.
Timothy’s eyes brightened and he craned his neck. “Oh my God, I forgot to tell you, I've almost completely stopped wetting! Those electroshock treatments you sent me for, they seem to be kicking in! I wasn’t so sure at first!”
“Excellent,”I said. Was there a sale at the Clinique counter that I didn’t know about? Three more women passed by with shopping bags ready to burst.
Timothy’s face darkened. “The only problem is, I get ringing in my ears and sometimes I forget where I am. And I’m having trouble remembering my lines.”
I waved reassuringly. “Don’t worry, dear boy. That’ll pass. It affects everybody differently. By the way, who is the President of the United States?”
He paused for a moment. “Gosh, I ... I ... I don’t remember!”
“Well,”I called, “I want you to think about it and tell me, the next time you come for your session. That’s your homework. I believe that just about covers it for today, Timothy!”
He smiled brightly. “Boy, we covered a lot, didn’t we?” he said.
“Yes we did,”I said. “Now pull that ticket from the machine, OK? Do a U-turn and then drive out, and they won’t charge you when you leave. I’ll see you next week at the same time.”
“But I wanted to ask you---”he started.
“That’s all we should work on today, “I said. “I don’t want to overload you.”Besides, there was obviously a sale going on at the Clinique counter and I had 40 minutes to check it out before my next patient showed up. I was almost completely out of T-Zone Shine Control. Who knew when it would go on sale again?
“Huh? Well OK, Charles. I’ll see you next week. Bye bye! And thank you!”Timothy drove off.
“Be good, be well, be safe!”I said. I’ve been trying out different send-offs and I kind of like that one. It seems to cover it all!