It was with true resistance that I stepped through the doors of the medical annex. And it was with mild delight that the man seating there when I walked in made me feel at home instantly. All this for $29, I thought. I should try Groupon more often.
“What’s your name?”
“Myra. And you’re…”
“James, I’m sorry, I thought you were going to be a woman named Carol.”
He just patiently smiles at me, then speaks.
“So, tell me. What’s going on with you?”
“Oh my God, where do I start? I’ve had no one to talk to about this for so long. My parents are fucking nuts. And I feel so guilty for saying this, because they’ve let me stay with them and deep in their hearts I know there is kindness. But, they’re fucking crazy. I’m so sorry to keep cursing.”
“No please. Be who you are.”
“Thank you.” (Tears start flowing down my eyes). “All I want is to be self-sufficient and live in the city again and HAVE MONEY. I’m trapped in the same prison of my childhood.”
“Those Wall Street fuckers.”
“I know, right! But, I can’t entirely blame them. I drank on the job. And called the manager a Dipshit behind her back.”
James grabs a bunch of tissues that are sitting on the coffee table next to him. His office looks like a waiting room, I notice. And he didn’t even bother to start with paperwork, which is really nice of him.
“Thank you. Sorry I’m crying, I’m such a baby.”
“Never be sorry for crying, Myra.”
I practically curl into his arm, when a door opens and an icy blonde 52-year-old woman walks through.
I look up. “Yes?”
“Right this way. Thank you for waiting.”
I’m confused. “I’m sorry, wait…”
“I’m Carol. We have an appointment at two, right?”
I get up and look back at James who winks at me. WTF???
I walk into Carol’s office.
“Um, Carol, who was that? I thought that was….”
“That’s the waiting room. I think that guy is Doctor Wallace’s patient. Personality disorder, but I’m not sure. Anyway, what brings you here, Myra?”
“So, he acts like a therapist?”
“What do you mean? Oh, before I forget, I just need to get a copy of your Groupon certificate, if you don’t mind, and then we can proceed.”
I sit there stunned.
She comes back from the copier in her tight skirt suit that looks like it was bought from Kohl’s in the pseudo designer section and sits down with the cold efficacy of a divorce lawyer. I prefer talking to the schizo in the waiting room.
I proceed to tell her about life with my parents. How I got there. How a Bichon Frise tried to hump Vito and it escalated into a fight and I broke my arm falling down the steps to stop it. How my dog is always blamed. Pit Bull profiling. How my job used it as an excuse to fire me. How I couldn’t find a cheaper apartment because no one wanted my dog. How my last resort was to move in with the parents I hated and was ashamed of. How I was a victim.
“So, you’re a victim?”
“I know. It’s pathetic. And I shouldn’t think of myself that way. I’ve bought books on gratitude and I try to be grateful for everything.”
“Let me stop you right there. You’ve told me a lot about your parents, but let’s turn to you for a minute. Let’s talk about your patterns.”
Carol in the beige Jennifer-Lopez-for-Kohl’s outfit proceeds to show me how I’m the one with the problem. How Thank God I found her, because it’s about time I started doing “the work.” It’s hard for me to take advice from someone in her attire, but I try to listen respectfully. “The only reason I should be thanking God, Carol,” I think to myself, but not out loud, “is that I only paid $29 to come in here.” I start to think about the other things I could have bought with that $29. A pitcher of margaritas at the local Hooters. The new Sheer Cover make-up. A deposit on the next Norwegian Jewel sailing. A new squeaky monkey for Vito.
“I think you should come in again. Routinely. There is a lot of great work we can do together. This is only the beginning of a long road, but the good news is, it’s starting now.”
Wow. So, that’s how you make your money, Carol? A cheap Groupon. Make people feel like they’re fucked up, so they come back. You can’t fool me, honey. And your bra strap is showing. I should give you a session on having more class. So what if I’m wearing jeans with stains and an old Black Keys t-shirt I haven’t washed since January. I have an excuse. I live with my parents.
“I’ll certainly consider it, Carol. Thank you for seeing me.”
“Should I put something on the books for next week, same time?”
“You know, I’m going to think about that. And call you.”
“Okay, Myra. Until the next time I see you, I want you to consider one thing: You are not a child anymore. But the child inside you needs you.”
Dude. Come on. I’m half way out the door. Let me be.
“And I’d like you to consider one thing: Target features Missoni.”
I walk out to the honking horn of my parents’ Honda truck.
“I see you. Stop honking!!”
I get in the car.
“I’m late for Walmart now. Tell me, how much did this cost you?”
“You waste your money, Myra. Tell me something, when are you going to pay me back the money you owe me?” He tears out of the parking lot and onto the main road lined with palm trees and American consumerism in all its franchise glory.
“Ivan stop it! Don’t listen to him, Myra” my mother beckons from the front seat with her still pronounced Colombian accent.
“I’m not, don’t worry.”
“Do you know how much money I waste in gas schlepping you around?”
“I’ll pay you back.”
“Enough, Ivan! You’re pathetic you know that?”
“Is that Wendy’s?”
“YES IT’S WENDY’S!”
“Stop screaming at me or I’ll send you to the shrink with Myra. Should I stop?”
“Ay Jesus Christ. I don’t know. Do you want to stop?”
“I want to get a Frosty.”
“Then get one! Stop asking me stupid questions.”
A sharp turn off the busy road, more honking horns, and we’re in the Wendy’s drive through.
The child within me wants to get out of the car, get my dog and walk all the way back to New York City. But the child within me also wants a Frosty.