Shrinky Dink Shrink
December 16, 1999
For most of our lives, nothing happens. You know that Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times? In interesting times, you might get raped, pillaged, your children become orphans, the weaker sex might suddenly start voting and refusing to have sex with you when you’re drunk. It’s no good. If life were topsy-turvy all the time, society could not exist. U.P.S. would never be able to deliver on time. What I’m trying to say is, I did not have sex with the mental health worker in this week’s entry, so don’t get your hopes up. The man did, however, say “breasts,” and I did reflexively grab mine when he said it. So if that’s enough for you, dear reader, then step into my office . . .
My friend Rachel was going to a behaviorist about whom I was dubious. He only knew her for two hours before deciding she was bipolar and needed medication. He called her promiscuous!
“Well Rachel, you are weird,” I admitted. “You dance with brooms, you make me bring you your pizza because you’re afraid the delivery boy will rape you. Your quality of life might be improved if you could order pizza any time you wanted. But why is that doctor in such a hurry to drug you? Just because someone has a degree doesn’t mean they’re always right, you know. Some people decide to get revenge on their mothers by becoming dentists and over-drilling the ladies, or on the cheerleaders who rejected them by becoming psychiatrists and drugging pretty girls and calling them promiscuous. I’m going with you to your appointment today!”
Poor Rachel was crying and apologizing (for bringing me without telling him, for being one minute late, for crying, for saying sorry so much). He didn’t tell her not to worry about it. He seemed to feel it was his due that women should weep for wasting a minute of his manly, doctorly time. Rachel once pepper-sprayed two muggers (even while the second was on his knees throwing her money back at her, begging for mercy). She’s stood up to me and told me when I’ve done wrong. She’s brave. How had she been reduced to this small wet ball of a woman?
For the next half-hour, we discussed feelings not one fact was brought up. He kept repeating the word “felt,” and I wondered if he was trying to slyly plant “get felt up” into our heads. Finally, I blurted out: “What symptoms led you to the bipolar diagnosis?”
“Let me refer to my notes,” the doctor said, looking annoyed and lust-filled and horribly unattractive all at once. “Rachel stayed up all night a lot as a teenager . . . wrote poetry. That describes a manic state.”
“She was on No-Doz. She wrote poetry because she writes.”
“You obviously don’t want your friend to have a mental disease. After seven years in this business, I think I’d be able to discern the meaning of symptoms a little better than an unqualified person such as yourself.”
“I just don’t think staying up on nights you took uppers, or writing poetry, are symptoms. And that was fifteen years ago.”
We stared at each other. I thought I heard a clock tick, though there wasn’t one. And then: “Did you cut your breasts?” he roared. The force of it felt like the hot, unhealthy wind that blasts out of those metal chutes behind laundromats.
“Rachel told me a group of you cut yourselves as teenagers, and you were one of the group,” he said, back in his normal voice. “I’m wondering if you cut your breasts, too.”
“Oh, that. Rachel cut between her breasts,” I explained. “She had a beauty mark there and I guess when you’re 16 years old and a drama queen, something that looks like cat scratches is
preferable to a . . . well, to a mole.”
He snorted with his face, then mentioned some tests Rachel needed. He leered at me and said, “Surely you know what those are, since you’re so well versed in the field of psychiatry.” When Rachel said she couldn’t pay the $180 they’d cost (her H.M.O. wouldn’t cover it), he said he’d “bring it down” to $150, like we were haggling over a carpet. Rachel said that actually her family could pay, at which point the good doctor suddenly remembered that it was two tests he wanted her to take, not one, and in fact the cost would be $380. Then he started listing the different drugs he was going to prescribe.
Rachel explained, tentatively, that she didn’t want to go on more medication because the low-dose Zoloft she’s already on for anxiety interfered with her sex drive. “Your ability to orgasm?” the doctor interrupted. (Who uses “orgasm” as a verb? Only sick, perverted people.) “So sex is very . . . important to you. Sex is an important . . . component of your life.” He laced his bloated fingers and looked at me. I, without meaning to, nodded.
I was thinking about tying him down naked, arms to the desk, one leg to that potted plant, the other to the couch. I’d take my shirt off, squeeze my breasts together. “Oh these breasts?” I’d ask. “Did I cut these precious things?” I’d make fun of his penis size, then take off my shoe and rub his penis with my nyloned foot and squeak his chair right in his face.
When her fifty-five minutes were up, I dragged Rachel out the door and told her that man will never again gaze upon her brave and lovely face. You know, not getting jokes is a sign of insanity. I took her down the street to my old shrink’s office, a nice man who laughs at jokes, and told Rachel: “This is your new man.”
Lisa Carver and Nerve.com, Inc.