OT Self-Help for the People Who Need It Most
- My last therapist tried to get me to express my feelings through hand puppets. Nothing ever came of it. It wasn't really my way. My new therapist is better. He encourages me to write. To be honest, he doesn't seem to have the strongest grasp on the English language. His name is Fyodor (yes, it rhymes with Theodore).
"Sit down," he told me recently.
I sat down on the couch. I looked at him. Had he read my story?
"I read your story, "he said, putting an end to my doubts, "I would like to read it to you."
He began from the top of the page, "'My Roommate, the Barrow-Wight' by Mahiruha Klein.
"'Mahiruha, why don't you go to sleep?' asked my roommate" my therapist began, reading out in his thick Russian accent.
"'You're a barrow-wight,' I said drily, `If I sleep, I die.'"
My therapist paused then, scanning the page.
"Before I saw signs of literary genius. Now I think it sign of troubled brain."
"Oh keep reading!" I insisted.
He put the manuscript down.
"I am sorry, I read more later. Tell me, how was self-help retreat I sent you to last week?"
"Oh, it was fine," I said.
"What happened?" he probed.
"It's just the moderator started us off with a community building exercise. We were supposed to go around the circle and share with the group the most salient fact about ourselves. I started, actually. I announced, "Well, I guess the most striking thing I have to share is that I am the reincarnation of William Shakespeare!"
"And then, what happened?" my therapist asked.
"Well, the woman to my right said, "So am I!" And then this old man across the room said, "Me, too!" And before long, complete pandemonium broke out, people kicking and screaming at each other, trying to establish their own indisputable claims to being the Bard of Avon!"
"So, what did you do?" he asked.
"I tried to leave but then the moderator suggested that we all sit down and try to "feel our common existential emptiness", and then dixie cups were passed around which of course lightened everybody's spirits and before long people were laughing and hugging and crying about how wonderful it was that all of us Shakespeares could be reunited at last. It was beautiful. But I know, I am the only true Shakespeare."
"Well, maybe you were Shakespeare in a past life. Who knows? But you might turn people off by making that claim now."
"You're right, gosh, Fyodor, I never thought about it that way, and by the way did we go to college together and is your name really Sandesh? And are you still working on the fell doomsday chemical that will SILENCE US ALL?!"
"NO!!" Sandesh screamed, running to the "bookshelf" which slid aside as he touched it, revealing a tiny but hidden laboratory full of steaming beakers and bubbling test tubes.
"I will excise your literary brain and use it to write sonnets so I will have occupation after I have-"
"After what, after you have what- you diabolical arch-fiend?" I rose up and began beating him with my manuscript.
"And you wouldn't even act out my short story! And how much are you charging me?" I screamed.
"Hah, let me find hydrofluoric acid and you never write pseudo-Tolkein rip-offs ever again! Kha! Kha!"
Just then I heard a pounding on the office door, accompanied by a sing-song chant of "My lucky charms! The only shamrock cereal you will find on the market!"
Then the door fell in, only to reveal the slight but menacing form of Nirbhasa, in a white lab coat and bright green boxing gloves.
"Russian bear is no match for Irish leapin' leprechaun!" he screamed.
Sandesh hurled beakers and petri dishes full of sizzling noxious concoctions at Nirbhasa which he deftly and expertly dodged.
"Yer time is up, yer BA in chemistry is no match for my physics PhD!" Nirbhasa yelled.
He landed a vicious left-hook which sent Sandesh sprawling.
But yet, my former therapist and current psycho seemed unphased.
He ran and put on a sorcerer's cap and started chanting in Russian. I felt the air crackle around me. Nirbhasa put a hand over his eyes and seemed to be uttering a counter spell in Gaelic. I grabbed my briefcase and case history and whispered to Nirbhasa, "Thank you, O Tom Bombadil of the Emerald Isle."
I went back the next day, but the building wasn't there anymore. Only a crater remained. In fact, nobody I asked could even remember the Chicago Mental Health Alliance. Only I remembered. And that was enough. When I got home after work, I looked in the phone book to find a new therapist and found an ad for one who specializes in deep dish fettuccine casserole. Sounds promising.