Monday, October 6, 2014

Stupid Cupid Part II

“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” 
~Margaret Atwood

I never fail to be astounded when intelligent people make tragic decisions with their eyes wide open (and plenty of warning against it). "Lisa" is a psych tech at a state mental hospital on the east coast and begins our first telephone session by telling me that she has fallen deeply in love with one of the patients whom, she is convinced, has been misdiagnosed by the system and misunderstood by nearly everyone in his life. Yes, it's true that he is a gang kingpin, responsible for murders, rapes and drug trafficking, but he had such a terrible childhood, it really isn't his fault (and those teardrop tats on his face are a huge turn-on!). She assures me that "George" is different from the other inmates and her heart melts when he brushes against her in the hallway.

According to Lisa, George is a kind, soft-spoken gentleman who has promised to treat her like his queen once he is released from the psychiatric hospital. They plan their beautiful, carefree life together in bursts of whispered conversation as she takes his vital signs and mentors him in the Basic Living Skills class. He draws flattering pictures of her and woos her with cryptic poetry that she doesn't understand, but feels is a sign of their many lifetimes together as star-crossed lovers.

Sowing the seeds of her own destruction, Lisa masterminds an elaborate plan for his early release. She is flying high on her adrenalized dreams of idyllic togetherness: cooking wholesome, organic meals for George, reading Shakespearean love sonnets to each other by a roaring fire and riding horses through green meadows.

Fast-forward to our next session one year later. George is granted early release, Lisa quits her job at the hospital and walks out on her disabled husband and their three teenage kids. They move in to a ramshackle Airstream trailer on a rural property where pit bulls are trained to fight to the death in a dilapidated barn. George resumes his meth habit and thoughtfully delivers a raging case of herpes and a few black eyes to Lisa as thanks for her kindness and loyalty. Since she is now fully aware of the severity of the situation and is living in constant fear, she asks for guidance on how to escape the life she has devised for herself.

About a week later, I receive an email from Lisa telling me that George was snuffed out by one of the pit bull fight club goons in a drug deal squabble. Relieved to be free of the nightmare she created, Lisa informs me that she has sent her resume out to other psychiatric hospitals and is eager to work with patients again.

Burning Man: one woman’s search for the perfect sperm donor

The nature of my business attracts many clients from the fringes of society who tend to not only think outside the box, they are not even remotely aware that there is a box anywhere in the universe. While I am all for creative, intuitive problem solving, the harebrained schemes I often hear about in sessions seem to come from either bad acid trips or extraterrestrial abduction and brainwashing.

"Sally" is a returning client who has made some big changes in her life. When I first met her, she was a 35 year old psychologist from Newport Beach who seemed to have her shit together despite a stormy, competitive relationship with her mother (just fourteen years older than Sally).

It has been two years since our last session, and I barely recognize the woman standing at my door. Gone are the J. Crew loafers, pink Izod polo shirt and precise blonde salon cut; Sally now resembles a Godspell cast member/Woodstock survivor with long, ropy dreadlocks, mismatched gypsy fortuneteller clothing and shaggy armpit hair peeking out from her embroidered tank top. Also, she looks to be about twelve months pregnant and I nervously envision this bohemian poser birthing a purple unicorn in a patchouli-scented explosion right here on my couch.

(Semi-related side note: over the years, people have brought some curious items to sessions including used sex toys, a box of newborn kittens, a stack of legal contracts, cremated remains in a Mason jar, shockingly awful sugarless chocolate "candy", extensive collections of supplements, creams and suppositories, photo albums, artwork, suicide notes, a gallstone the size and color of an avocado pit in a zip-lock bag and a metal crucifix pendant which had mysteriously twisted itself into something resembling a Bavarian pretzel stick.)

Sally has prepared a PowerPoint presentation about her trip to Burning Man nine months ago, explaining that she would prefer that I see actual images of her adventure so that my intuitive guidance will be crystal clear. Since I was not prepared with a projection screen and laser pointer, we hunch over her tablet to view the spectacle she has cobbled together from hundreds of photos and hours of video footage set to a soundtrack of Weezer and the Dave Matthews Band.

I will say right up front that I'll never, under any circumstances or coercion, attend Burning Man. As delightful as it all looks in Sally's production, I know that I wilt into a grouchy mess when temperatures climb above seventy degrees. At one hundred and twenty degrees (average daily temperature on "the playa"), my brain stops functioning and I would no doubt expire in the orgy tent under a pile of writhing, Kombucha-swilling strangers. I do not relish the thought of daily sandstorms that will blast the paint off a Winnebago. I appreciate certain types of art, but mimes in wedding dresses and motorized Barcaloungers tooling across the furiously over-baked landscape of the Nevada desert do not enchant or inspire me.

Sally has not revealed the purpose of our session, so I watch the show and try to imagine the questions that are sure to follow.

The first images are of Sally arriving at Burning Man, clutching a pink parasol and modeling her suede bikini and some kind of furry caveman boots. She speaks directly to the camera and announces that she has come to this event to find the sperm donor for her as-yet-to-be-conceived child (a young man wearing a top hat, goggles and a g-string steps into the shot and announces that his baby batter is free to anyone who wants it. What a surprise.) and holds up her ovulation chart with the optimal days circled in red and smiley face stickers in the margins.

The video continues with snippets from the event:

~Sally opening the door to a porta-potty to reveal a dude in a dress blowing another dude in a horse head mask
~Naked people covered in glitter dancing to trance music on deep-pile shag carpet in a geodesic dome
~Re-birthing tent in which one can experience a kinder, gentler entrance into the world by pushing through a maze of heavily-oiled Slip 'N Slides and being doused with a bucket of flower petals and Tootsie Rolls by a naked woman wearing angel wings at the end of the ordeal.

At this point in the presentation, Sally explains that her offering to Burning Man is a "Divine Conception Tent" in which specific men (supposedly there was a qualification process) will be allowed to have a shot at impregnating her. What follows is a tag-team progression of guys in absurd costumes who are interviewed briefly on camera before they get down to business discharging their glurky man-sauce into Sally's wanton womb (copulation not shown on camera, thank you Jesus).

The thirty minute show concludes with Sally straddling a bicycle, wearing what was once a frilly red tutu but is now a grubby, tattered suggestion of a kicky fashion statement. In the background, the burning man is blazing away against the night sky and drunken people are cavorting in a ritual frenzy as she announces with a serene smile that she knows in her heart she is pregnant.

All of this leads (at last) to the point of our session. Sally wants me to intuit which of the seven dudes she had sex with that week is the father of her baby. I tell her which man I feel it is, and she begins to weep and nod her's the same one she had a dream about after she came home from Burning Man.

Three weeks later, I receive an email from Sally telling me that she gave birth to a ten pound baby girl. She contacted the fellow who spermatized her and he dropped everything to hitchhike from Idaho and move in with his new little family. She's not sure she can live with his habitual pot smoking, three a.m. Gregorian chanting or spastic colon issues, but the baby seems to like him.

In other session news:

~High School teacher marries freshman student with her parents' full consent. inadvertently unites long-lost brother and sister (not realized until they compare family photos after a month of round-the-clock screwing).

~Thirtyish woman marries rich old man on his deathbed. He rallies and goes on to live another five horrific years. When the will is read after he finally croaks, she learns that he's left all of his money to the Catholic church.

~Eighty year old female client gets scammed out of $500,000 by the "Prince of Ghana" whom she meets and falls in love with on Plenty of Fish.

Choices are the hinges of destiny. 
~Edwin Markham


  1. Gotta LOVE the Burning Man visuals!!

  2. Haha...a vivid reminder that Burning Man is not for the faint of heart!

  3. ............ among other "goodies", newborn kittens? are you kidding me? oh susette......