When we last saw Dr. Oliver Cuddles, he was preparing to embark on a sabbatical from his psychiatric practice of 23 years. The purpose of the sabbatical was two-fold: 1. To enter into intense psychotherapy of his own and 2. To explore a latent interest in camping.
Now, just several weeks into the sabbatical, Dr. Cuddles finds himself untethered and drifting for the first time in his life. His first choice for an analyst, Dr. Phil, wasn’t available due to an ongoing television commitment. His second choice, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, was not taking on new patients.
Feeling rejected, Dr. Cuddles resorted to using DexKnows to find a suitable therapist, settling on one Dr. Alan Brown. But the first appointment did not go well. Although well-versed in the ins and outs of psychoanalysis, Dr. Cuddles was not prepared for the stony silence that met his every attempt at small talk. He finished his first session frustrated and anxious and immediately went out to get high on LSD.
He wrote about this painful episode in his journal, aptly titled, What I Did on My Summer Sabbatical.
“Now the drugs are wearing away and I no longer feel as if my kidneys are rising up in revolt against my other internal organs. The skin is also an organ, which is not something many people acknowledge. I feel this is important to note – at no time did my skin feel threatened by my kidneys. In the mirror, I see that my skin has changed color, my mustache is electric, my clothes are on fire…
I am a failure on every level. The session went poorly; I was a cliche of a patient. No wonder he sat there smoking a pipe. A pipe! In a session! As if that’s not a terrible cliche in and of itself! But I sat there and tried to make conversation with him as if I was a first year grad student. ‘Do you camp? I find I’m rather intimidated by the woods,’ I said. ‘Why do you think that is?’ he said. ‘Don’t try to analyze me!’ I said.
What a disgrace I am to my profession. I actually got angry. And then I started to think that maybe I had a crush on him. And then I thought I would talk about that, about how I might be developing a crush on him. ‘Aren’t you getting a bit ahead of yourself?’ he said. ‘Erotic transference doesn’t usually begin until at least the seventh or eighth session. Or are you that easy?’
Yes, damn it, I’m that easy! I fall for anyone who shows even the least bit of interest in me. I’ve loved every one of my patients. I’ve followed them home. I’ve slept in my car outside their houses. I’ve memorized their phone numbers. I fell in love with the woman who sold me my toupee even though it looks like something she fashioned from an old shag rug. Or cotton candy. A kid asked me once if I had cotton candy on my head and if he could eat some of it. ‘Mike,’ his mother said. ‘You should be ashamed of yourself, talking that way to an old man.’ And I fell in love with her for saying that.
‘Yes, I’m that easy,’ I said to him.
‘We have our work before us then,’ he said. He sounded smug. ‘I’m on vacation next week but when I return…’
‘Where are you going?’ I said.
‘That’s personal information,’ he said. ‘We’ll meet again when I return from my vacation.’
But I didn’t want to meet with him again, ever. I can’t have this – meeting someone, falling for them and then not being able to see them? I don’t want that. I want to have a chicken dinner at his home on Sunday evening. I want to go to the movies and share a bucket of popcorn. I want… I want…
I ran out of there. I did. I’m ashamed to say it but I left right in the middle of everything. And I found Steve, the guy I know, because he’s always at the same cafe drinking coffee, and he had acid and I took some. And now it’s… I have no idea what day it is. The same day as the day of my appointment? A different day? I feel raw on the edges of myself; hot inside and cold outside like something reheated in a microwave.
I think I will go to the zoo.”