It’s gorgeous out; an unseasonable 70+ degrees (F). I walked into the psychiatrist’s office a few minutes early. Being neurotic, arriving anything other than a few minutes early would be a contradiction. I always feel a sort of elation walking into a new psychiatrist’s office. New staff, who talk to you nicely because they haven’t yet determined how crazy you are; they always start their conversations in the way that people in customer service should, but rarely do. They are probably more nervous than me. After all, I have a) been in many such offices, and b) have a full grasp on how crazy I am. We can deduce that they have been in at least one psychiatry office, and b) have no idea how crazy, or what kind of crazy I am. Daunting.
There is also the other theory that they work there, where as I am a patient there, so possibly this diversion of dynamics is simply because they don’t think about these things at all- they could be….normal. Also daunting. People who don’t worry make me nervous. What dangers could come to their life, or mine if in the right proximity to theirs, if they are not thinking about all the dangerous possibilities; preferably concurrently, and really, really fast?
I look around, as one will do in a new venue. Basic office, sparse furniture, the only art I can recall was a painting of some bears. They were not in a hunting situation; there was no redneck in camouflage lurking in the corner with a rifle. Check and good (so far). The picture was instead, one big bear, presumably the mother, with 2-3 (maybe 2.2) smaller bears behind her. This is also good. It implies nurturing. Motherhood. Or, does it imply issues with mothers, and this is the way I’m supposed to start focusing on those issues so we can get right down to it when I see the doctor? Or, did the doctor merely pick bears for their lack of being donkeys or elephants, which definitely have political affiliations? It’s hard to tell. Bears are relatively neutral in that even in the super neurotic population that enters the office, probably few, if any people would break out into even a psychosomatic allergic reaction to bears. I’ve known people who are seemingly allergic to everything, but bear seems to be a non-issue with most. Naturally, they do cause a reaction, but more people are worried on a daily basis about wheezing or throats swelling from the evil peanut or wheat product than they are the dangers of bears. There just aren’t that many of them (bear-allerics), so even the greatest hypochondriac would find few situations where it would be appropriate to bring attention to themselves by loudly announcing, “I’m allergic to bears!” Disparaging; but will save me one eye roll episode because I hate being upstaged by dramatic bear-allergics.
The doctor comes out in a Polo shirt from 1986. No; Polo shirts haven’t really changed since 1986, but that many washes will alter the integrity of even the venerable Mr. Ralph Lauren. I know for a fact that the first thing on a medical history, specifically in this particular arena, is “general appearance”. What they mean, of course, is; are you sitting in front of a patient who is, say, naked? Or are they wearing a winter coat in Boca in August? Sporting a tube top with no discernable boobs to hold it up? Mismatched shoes, particularly when one might be a high heeled stiletto and the other a penny loafer? These are what doctors look at when you enter- it’s part of your chart, so never hesitate to take a few minutes to make sure your shoes match before you pay your co-pay.
I had been thinking a lot about this because we’re currently in the season where you need a decent coat on your body and a car heater in good working order first thing in the morning; but, by quitting time, you need a tank top and air conditioning. As my appointment was in the afternoon on such a day, I still had my leather coat (because it’s nice and I didn’t want it stolen out of my car), and it was about 75F outside. I needed the tank top, and was wearing one under another shirt, but if I had only that on, my bra straps would show, thus creating another psychologically notable fashion dilemma. So, I kept coat with me and sweater over tank. Screw it. If I wasn’t nuts, I wouldn’t be there, right? Let them write!
The inner office where we were to have our session was a larger room that looked like it could accommodate “group therapy”. A frightening term where people get together and with the egging on of a kook-with-a-degree (a KWD if you will), get to tell each other what they think of each other’s problems, OR be quiet, listen and think, ‘there but for the grace of God….’ I’ll pass on both of those luxuries, thank you.
The most notable thing in the room was the entire theme. Old, with a dichotomous combination of sturdy anchor pieces, and Allen wrenched sub pieces. Chairs and sofas make of and weighing as much as, a California Redwood, with cushions covered in the fabric that they were chosen for about 25 years ago or more. All along side random bookcases that came in a flat box that an MG Midget (now defunct AND politically incorrect) could have “hauled” home 10 of in one trip without rolling down the windows or letting the top down. In 1976, I’m guessing this may have been how this went down, right around this time.
Now, the old shirt and the “décor”, I quickly realized, was a ruse, a distraction, a sign that the doctor had a good time in 1976 and didn’t want to let it go. There was, however, a neon sign that I thought had to be a test of my either my tact or my sanity… it was in the form of a dark brown toupee jauntily placed upon the head of a man who was almost entirely gray from the ears down. Brown on top, then BANG(!)- A loud conversion to gray. You could hear it like the cannons in the 1812 Overture, you could taste it like a bad piece of meat in a Taco Bell taco, you could feel it like the wind; it touched you, but you weren’t touching it (eww).
This person, who I am to trust with mind-altering medications, cannot see the forest through the trees. I know he owns a mirror because I used the bathroom (how do you rate YOUR doctors’ offices?) and there was one in there. Mystery not solved. He mentioned a wife who is sometimes jealous, (I learned more about him than he about me in this first session). Is she, perhaps blind? I did not see a dog, but now I’m starting to think that this doesn’t mean I can take for granted that there wasn’t one there. If he couldn’t see this follicle faux pas, then it’s certainly plausible that I couldn’t see a guide dog. What else in life have I been missing? I vowed to go home and scrutinize my hair in the mirror. After a couple of prescription mood altering pills of course.
Copyright Suki Eastman 2010