There isn’t really anything else to look at in this office. Greg doesn’t have any personal pictures on display, or self help books stacked haphazardly in a corner somewhere. He does ,however, have one of those pendulum things on his desk. I lift a ball on the right side and send it into motion. I do this every time that I am here because it irritates my therapist. He makes me wait in this dreary office because he knows it irritates me. This is our way of bonding. Every week it is the same routine. I come into his office, swipe peppermints out of the mesh container on his desk, and look at that stupid poster and think, “Really? Why on earth would the people who designed this poster put penguins on it?”
It makes no sense. They aren’t even the cute little black and white penguins. They are those ugly ones with the yellow sticky out things on their heads.
Greg comes into his office after I have been waiting for ten minutes. He is drying his hands on a paper towel; it looks like an expensive brand.
Greg isn’t married, and I don’t think he is gay. I haven’t quite figured him out. From the waist up he looks like a Ken Doll. His hair is perfectly combed over, and his shirts are all very starched, but once you begin to look below his waistline everything begins to unravel. There is a small stain on his khakis, and he is wearing white socks, black shoes, and one of those hideous braided belts. It’s brown
“Hello, Lucinda. How are you today?” I don’t know why he asks me this every time.
Of course I try to deflect any questions with humor, “I would be doing better if my boobs were bigger.”
I say this to shock him. It worked for the first month, but I think he is used to me now.
He sits in the chair across from me and crosses his leg ankle over knee, notepad ready. He rubs his hands over his eyes, and looks at me.
“You know that I am hear to listen. You don’t have to entertain me. This joking about your breasts isn‘t healthy”
I shrug my shoulders, “Who said I was joking? Probably, I would be in a better mood if my breasts were larger and higher up on my body. That’s all I’m saying.”
He puts his glasses on. This is about to get serious.
“I know that your less than ample breasts aren‘t the problem because you are actually talking about it. The things we don’t talk about. The things that we suppress and keep inside. Those are the things that cause us the most discord in our lives. You must learn to speak the truth. Whether it is tiny, insignificant things that you believe to be true or big secrets from your past. Speak your truth.” The clicking of his pen is the sound that signifies that it is now my turn to speak.
I’m not sure how much time passed before I said anything. It could have been five minutes, it could have been fifty. I pay for an hour and a half, and I am pretty sure that I annoy the hell out of him. He is probably happy that I haven’t said much today.
“So, what? So you want me to tell you things that I know to be true? Okay-Well, um…the sky is blue. I’m not sure if you know this, but you have a small stain on your pants that, actually, is in such a place that it draws attention to your crotch. Your socks are both white, but they don’t match. I hate that poster on your wall, with the penguins. It doesn’t make any sense. You should really decorate more in here.
You expect people to talk about their feelings and you don’t have anything personal of yours on display for us to look at. It’s kind of crappy, I think. I know you aren’t married, but I haven’t decided if you are gay. You have very effeminate hand gestures, but at the same time manage to have a very manly stance, and I am pretty sure that I saw you looking at my cleavage the first time I came here. I hate commercials with a burning passion. I hate the sound of the Oxy-Clean info-merical guy’s voice, and I actually feel bad about it now because he is dead. I feel like I am disrespecting him because I hate his voice. I hate it that I wasted so much of my life working at the jewelry store. I have a terrible ability to just say things without thinking about them first, which is usually never a good thing. I wish I could talk to my husband more, and that he would really listen to me. I love my children, but wish I would have waited longer to have them.” I stop speaking suddenly, because I realize that I don’t really want to talk to Greg anymore. He didn’t write anything down which is a pretty good sign that he was listening to me talk.
I can tell when he is really thinking hard about what to say because he begins making a sucking sound on his teeth. This, in turn, causes my eye to twitch. When he does this, I could kick him in the forehead and not feel bad about it.
He uncrosses his legs, leans forward with his elbows resting on his knees, and removes his glasses.
“I don’t have anything personal in this office because I don’t have much of a personal life. I’m not gay, but I have kissed a guy before. The stain is from my hot dog that I ate at lunch,” he takes a deep breath and rubs his hands across his face, “I was married, but we were both too young and it didn’t work out. I hate it when you play with things on my desk, and when you crunch on peppermints during our sessions. I feel really, really sorry for your husband. I like long walks on the beach and fruity, frozen drinks when I go to the bar.” He says the last part with a half smile on his face. He sits back and crosses his arms across his chest.
Like a challenge.
What is this? Some sort of psychological dance-off?
This is weird.
I have to go. I stand up and gather my things.
“So, um- thanks for listening to my…you know. I’m sorry, about the…I’m sorry if what I said about you was somewhat inappropriate, but it was all true. I guess that’s a start.” I gather my things and turn to leave. I have tears in my eyes, and I just don’t understand why I am crying. I have never been a graceful crier. Demi Moore, in Ghost, now that was graceful crying. A little red nose, and one tiny tear, just trickles down her cheek. Perfect. I, on the other hand, cry like Julia Roberts.
Snot literally flies out of my nose when I cry. It isn’t pretty.
I grab a handful of Kleenex from the small table by the door and shove one up each nostril. I feel like I have to tell him something more. It’s like a pull from within me, and I can’t stop it. I try, but something inside of me spews the words out against my will.
Vomit of the mouth.
“I try to make everything a joke. I figure if I can make people laugh then they won’t see my troubles. I am really insecure about everything that I do. I look at my life, and say, “What have I accomplished?” I haven’t been anywhere, I haven’t done anything that will change the world. I’m twenty-three and I feel like I have nothing to offer anyone, but I do a great job of making it look like I do. I actually like coming here. I look forward to it even though I try to tell myself that I hate you. I think you are really nice, and even under different circumstances we could be friends. I don’t want to talk about my childhood. At least, not for a while. I’m- um…I’m going to go home now.”
I leave. I shut the door too hard, by mistake. I should probably go back in and tell him that I didn’t mean to shut the door so hard. I decide to stop by the receptionists desk and just tell her.
I tap on the glass window, with rapid, Morse Code like taps. Janet, the receptionist slides the glass back and is looking at me strange. I’m still crying, sort of. I’m trying to stop, but it isn’t working.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but could you just tell Greg that I didn’t mean to slam the door. The window in his office was open, and I guess it just shut louder than I expected it to. So, could you just let him know that I didn’t mean to slam the door.”
Shut up, Lucy. You are an idiot. Just go home. Stop talking.
I don’t. It gets worse.
“I mean, I could go in there, but I got really emotional and I’m afraid if I look at that poster in his office again I may just have to rip it off of the wall. I think I am going to go and get some ice cream, and just calm down. So, yes, please let Greg know that I didn’t mean to slam his office door shut, and that I am fine. I am of sound mind. I will not be drowning my children in the bathtub today. Ha, ha, ha…hee, hee…um, okay. Have a nice day!”
I wince as I realized that I sort of shouted the last part.
I turn quickly to leave, but am stopped by the sound of Janet opening her little side door. I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn around and she hugs me. Janet releases me from the embrace and holds me at arms length, and then very gingerly she removes the tissues from my nostrils, pats me on the cheek and says, “I don’t think you are crazy, but other people might. It would be better not to have the Kleenex dangling from your nose, just in case.”