Secret Life of Kitty Lyons: Nixon’s Shrink

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The Secret Life of Kitty Lyons by Maggie Cutler  


“I Am Not a Nut!”

How I, Kitty Lyons, end up in bed with Nixon’s psychiatrist is this:

We’re in California, my husband and I, shooting this lawyers-you-love-to-hate movie (Snakes) when Max loses his lens cap in the death penalty attorney’s office and blames the gaffer, the P.A. and also — most unjustly — me. So I roll my eyes upwards just the slightest bit and zzzzap! They land right in these gray-blue pools belonging to the cutest pro bono defender of murderers I have ever seen.

And he smiles. Knowingly. He can tell that I’m mad at Max for more than the lens cap, and he wants to lick me all over until I get a divorce.

How do I know all this from just one eye-zap? I just do. So I have to leave the room on the pretext of calling the bank before I slip this little killer-helper my number, along with a note saying, “There’s something about the way you push your hips out when you stand that makes my fallopian tubes want to take you to the closest motel.”

Once out in the hall I have my first-ever anxiety attack. It’s not that I’m attracted to somebody besides my husband that scares me; it’s that I want to do something so stupid about it. And as I’m standing there obsessing about his Matt Dillon lips, Guess Who bounds out and says, “You forgot something,” and presents my clutch to me, his finger in the crack.

I force the word “thanks” through my lust-clogged throat, take the purse and run. But that night as I lie abed skimming the latest biography of Richard M. Nixon, I can’t stop thinking about Zap planting one of those hard, deep, Tipper-and-Al kisses on my pout. And, though I know it’s wrong, I’m like Nixon bombing Cambodia — unable to stop. By the time I get to the part in the book where Tricky Dick visits a shrink, I realize that, like him, I need professional help.

“Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker.” I summon Nixon’s psychiatrist. “Save me! I am a person ‘in the grips of acute conflict,’ your avowed specialty. I am living in what you dubbed ‘the Age of Ambivalence,’ and I want out!”

Dr. Arnold, pacing his capacious Park Avenue office, is everything a journalist once described: a character composed of “the missionary zeal of Billy Graham . . . the cheezy optimism of a Norman Vincent Peale . . . the psychic beliefs of Jeanne Dixon and an accent reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove” — just the kind of creep who, thanks to my dad’s shining example, I get off on.

Observing that I’m as disoriented as Nixon became on non-prescription Dilantin, Dr. Hut takes my case. “Ve vill use ze behavioral conditioning techniques of Pavlov to cure you of your vandering eye!” he declares.

His idea is that for every minute that I can get Zap-eyes out of my mind, I get rewarded with a caress. For every minute I get aroused by thoughts of my husband, the good doctor will re-inforce my fidelity with actual penetration.

I’m remembering how hugely Dr. Hutschnecker’s Pavlovian method failed when treating Nixon’s addiction to the Vietnam War, and suddenly I feel a plump, firm hand on my breast.

“Vetty goot!” Arnold cries. You ver sinking about Me und Dick instead of Mr. Zip-Zap!” He kisses my cleavage.

I snuggle against the Doctor and feel his Viennese-pastry-enriched heft accepting my curves, while his hands roam my body and his thigh parts my legs. He goes on to assure me how discreet he is, how when Nixon came to him for psychiatric help, they agreed to lie to narrow-minded people about the nature of their relationship.

“You mean it’s okay to deceive people who don’t understand the truth?” I ask.

“If dey von’t understand de troot, are dey not already deceived?” he replies, tweaking my nipple, hard. I want him — now. But Hut is strict:

“Ve must concentwate on der husbant, or I cannot enter!”

I force myself to think about Max’s fine points, how his eyelashes stick together when he comes out of the shower (so sweet) and about how in bed he anticipates what I want before I make a move, the luv.

Hut rewards my appropriately mushy feelings with a sudden entering thrust of thrillingly masculine force.

“Katkin,” he says, thudding into me with Old World authority, “either you get dis husband to accept you as you are — a power-hungry fantasist, a vanker und a loving vife — or leave him, now!

My whole body ripples to the frightening truth of his loony words.

“I submit!” I wail, but mentally, so as to not wake Max . . . Not yet, anyway. Like Nixon, I’m going to try and get away with being secretly twisty until some Deep Throat forces me out.

Doctor Hutschnecker waits until my tremors subside. “Now, Ms. Ambivalence,” he chortles, “vud you like to tell me more about dis clutch purse you leaf mit a stranger?”