I was recently reading Hugh Honour’s Neo-Classicism (part of Penguin’s excellent Style and Civilization series from the ’60s and ’70s) and not enjoying it very much. The book is fine, but the topic was less than scintillating. I guess it depends on your tolerance for sentimental art about civic duty. Then I was jolted awake by a short passage in the epilogue:
Sabine: The kitchen sink is leaking, can you call someone to fix it?
Me: I’d like to try to fix it myself.
Sabine: How would you do it?
Me: I’d twist the thingie.
Sabine: Won’t you need tools?
Me: I can use our [makes ambiguous gestures with hands].
Sabine: I think you better call someone.
Me: I think I better call someone.
My friends were recently sharing instructions on how to eat sushi on Facebook. Well, I’m here to tell you that not only were they eating sushi wrong, if they follow those instructions they are STILL eating it wrong.
Here’s the deal: You don’t need to use chopsticks. Ever. Not for Japanese food, not for Chinese food, and certainly not for Thai food.
I guess the Washington Square Institute thought they were making up for my previous therapist when they assigned me a new one who looked like Jay Leno. I wasn’t a fan of the TV show but found it encouraging that my new shrink seemed more amused than concerned by my problems.
Things went well enough the first few months. Sure, he had a few annoying quirks, such as only taking notes when I happened to mention a dream, or always pointing out with a titter the double meaning of the expression “it’s hard.” (To this day I still say “it’s difficult” because of him.) But such are the hazards of psychotherapy.
Not long after moving to Brooklyn I was introduced to two women at an art opening–a blonde and a brunette. They asked why I had come to New York. Embarrassed to say, “to be an artist,” I jokingly answered, “to be a poet.” The brunette pointed to the blonde: “She’s a poet!” “I’m sorry, I was kidding,” I said. “I came to New York TO BE A DANCER!” The blonde then pointed to the brunette and said: “She’s a dancer!” I skulked away.
The first time I sought therapy was as a student in a small liberal arts college in Texas. I had high hopes the school counselor would be able to untangle my messy life (I had to, considering that I was majoring in Psychology).
I told him the sordid story—I was dating my housemate’s ex-girlfriend, and she cheated on me, with him. Now I was trapped in a painful jumble of regret, resentment, and despair. Plus a very uncomfortable household.