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Therapy

This is a short story I wrote for my creative writing class a couple semesters ago, but I never handed it in because I’m pretty sure my professor was gay.

“Good morning, Mr. Carole. Tell me your most disturbing experience,” Dr. Holland said while crossing his legs. He pulled out a notepad and pen from a nearby drawer and began recording the session.

Mr. Carole was slightly unnerved by his new doctor’s unorthodox greeting. “What?”

“Mr. Carole,” the psychotherapist stated matter-of-factly, “in order for me to understand the cause of your insomnia, I need you to recall a significantly disturbing memory.”

“Um, okay…” mumbled Mr. Carole as he slumped onto the chaise longue. He was uncertain about his most disturbing memory, for he led a normal, trauma-free life. “I guess my most disturbing experience was… the day my father died.”

“No, no, we’re not going to discuss that,” Dr. Holland said. “I never like to speak of death. It’s a bad omen.” He retrieved a small gong from the drawer and hit it with his pen. “Ohmmm.”

Mr. Carole was bemused, but open to discussing something else. “Alright…”

“Mr. Carole, visualize a disturbing memory and describe it to me with as much detail as you can,” Dr. Holland instructed.

“In high school, I asked four girls to the senior prom, and all four said ‘no’.”

“No, something else.”

“Ok, the only thing more disturbing than that was about 20 years ago, the day I found out my father used to be an underwear model for Calvin Klein. My sister and I were cleaning out the attic as part of our punishment for forgetting to clean out the attic, and we found an old cardboard box filled with photos and magazine clippings of some guy’s butt. We assumed it was our mom’s because underneath all the photos, we found several historical romance novels. My sister made gagging noises because they all had Fabio on the cover and she didn’t like men with long hair. I followed my sister down to the kitchen where my parents were making dinner, spaghetti and meatballs. My sister angrily confronted my mom as to why she was hoarding a box of butts when she was a happily married woman. Mom started giggling and smacked my father’s butt, which caused him to drop his stirring spoon into the spaghetti sauce. Christmas and I were both confused.”

“And who is Christmas?” Dr. Holland asked.

“Christmas is my sister.”

Dr. Holland looked up from his notepad. “Your sister’s name is Christmas?”

“Yeah. Her friends called her Christy but around the house we always called her Christmas. She hated it, though.”

“And why do you believe she hated it?”

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Mr. Carole replied. “I mean, would you want to be named ‘Christmas Carole’?”

Dr. Holland nodded and instructed Mr. Carole to continue.

“Well, my father started laughing and my mom giddily announced that the butt in the pictures belonged to him. I was shocked. ‘Yes, Honey!’ my mom squealed. She was way too proud of him. ‘Your father’s tushie was plastered all over Times Square!’ My father went on to say that he did some modeling work in his 20s and used to be the face, or rather butt, of Calvin Klein.”

Dr. Holland nodded. “Go on.”

“I found it completely disturbing, and I guess the only thing more disturbing than that was hearing my mom use the word ‘tushie’. Then they embraced and she shouted, ‘You’re my Fabio, Darling!’”

“Hmmm. And how did that make you feel?” Dr. Holland asked.

“It made me feel pretty worthless.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I’d just found out that my father’s backside was so beautiful it was put up on a billboard for all of New York to see! Not to mention the endless catalogues and magazines that printed it.”

“So it made you feel inferior?”

“Wouldn’t you feel inferior being in the shadow of your father’s derrière?”

“Not really,” Dr. Holland said, “I have nice buttocks.”

Mr. Carole looked at him inquisitively.

“How did your sister feel about the situation?” Dr. Holland queried.

“Christmas was horrified. She kept saying, ‘This is so embarrassing!’ and holding her head in her hands. My father laughed and told her to be grateful because that was how he could afford her future college tuition.”

“How old was Christmas at the time?”

“Fifteen.”

“And when did you realize you were homosexual?”

“What?”

“Homosexual.” Dr. Holland pushed his glasses up on his nose. “Homosexual, gay, queer, same sex relations, friend of Dorothy’s, ‘cake boys’, the Village People, rainbow bumper stickers, men in fishnet shirts dancing together in a nightclub getting sweaty and waving glow sticks and…”

“I know what ‘homosexual’ means,” Mr. Carole interrupted firmly. “What I don’t know is why you think I’m homosexual.”

“I know coming out of the closet can be difficult,” Dr. Holland said gently, “but it’s alright. Everyone has to do it some time.”

“Everyone? What about people who aren’t gay?”

“Now is not the time to blame others for your gayness, Mr. Carole. You brought this on yourself when you fantasized about licking whipped cream off your father’s buttocks.”

“What?!” yelled Mr. Carole. “I would never do such a thing! What kind of doctor are you anyway?”

“A good one,” replied Dr. Holland, “and if you know what’s good for you, you will listen to me and believe you are gay.”

“How can I be gay? I have a beautiful fiancé whom I can’t wait to marry.”

“Prove it.”

“Prove it?”

“Yes.”

“Fine.” Mr. Carole removed his wallet from his coat pocket, took out a picture of his fiancé, and handed it to Dr. Holland.

Dr. Holland studied the photograph carefully. “I see.”

“Good. Now do you believe I’m not gay?”

“On the contrary,” Dr. Holland said, “this is proof of your homosexuality.”

“What?!” Mr. Carole shouted. “That is my fiancé, Wendy! See how beautiful she is? Why would a woman that striking agree to marry me if I were gay?”

“She’s not that beautiful,” Dr. Holland retorted.

“Excuse me?”

“Look, look at the way her nose…bends…like that.” He ran his finger up and down Wendy’s nose. “It’s all crooked. It’s quite disgusting, really. You could do much better with a man.”

“Wendy is beautiful! So what if her nose is a little crooked?” Mr. Carole snatched the photograph out of Dr. Holland’s hand and placed it safely back inside his wallet.

“Furthermore, I don’t understand why you would want to marry someone named after a fast food restaurant, and a poor one at that. Their slogan is entirely inaccurate. ‘It’s better than fast food, it’s Wendy’s’ is a hoax—their food is enormously substandard to oh, say, McDonald’s, for instance.”

Mr. Carole gaped at Dr. Holland. “McDonald’s? McDonald’s?! First you accuse me of being gay, then you tell me my fiancé is ugly, then you go on about some second-rate eating establishment?!”

“Second-rate? How dare you. McDonald’s is a classic.”

“You’re insane!” Mr. Carole stood up from the chaise longue with such force he knocked it over.

“Insane?”

“Crazy!”

“Crazy like a box,” Dr. Holland replied smugly.

“What did you say? Did you just say ‘crazy like a box’? The expression is ‘crazy like a fox’.”

“You say potato, I say tomato.”

“Do you even listen to yourself talk?” Mr. Carole roared, exasperated.

Dr. Holland looked at his watch. “Time’s up.”

“What?” Mr. Carole looked at his cell phone. “It’s only been twenty minutes!”

“It seems our session has ended. Pay the receptionist before you leave.”

“Pay you? Why the hell would I do that? You’re a quack!”

“That’s simply ridiculous. Only ducks are quacks.”

“I wouldn’t pay you even if I had all the money in the world.”

“Mr. Carole, I’m not asking for all the money in the world. I’m asking for a mere three hundred dollars.”

“Three hundred dollars!” Mr. Carole exclaimed. “I won’t pay you three dollars, let alone three hundred!” He grabbed his jacket and burst through the door.

“Hello, Mr. Carole, will that be cash or credit?” the receptionist asked politely.

He flipped her off as he exited the building.

Dr. Holland sauntered out of his office and looked at the waiting room full of people. “Next,” he announced.

Outside of the office building, Mr. Carole furiously marched to his car and peeled out of the parking lot. He soon ran into a standstill traffic jam when it appeared that the Second Annual Gay Pride Parade was clogging up Main Street.

“Oh great, just great,” he said to himself, “a parade of fags.” He rested his head on the steering wheel and tried to relax. Hearing cars begin to move, he lifted his head to see several shirtless men holding signs and walking toward his car. Mr. Carole’s eyes widened as he admired their rippling muscles and raw masculinity. Suddenly, he screamed in terror and sped away from the crowd.

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2 responses

  1. Absolutely wonderful! Not just great writing but wow- what a shrink! – Your alter ego? As a therapist I’m known to be a little ‘way out’, very direct & definitely funny – but not that outrageous! LOL

    August 5, 2010 at 8:23 pm

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