Friday, October 22, 2010

The Doctors Are "In"

We started our first day back from our foliage tour with a delicious full English breakfast, but lacking some of the things an American such as I finds weird, like baked beans and a cooked tomato. Claire puts a lot more butter on things that I, fearing a myocardial infarction, would even consider, but I’m hoping that in view of how seldom I over-indulge in this way, my arteries and veins and what-not will cut me a few inches of slack.

Vistaprint is forever sending me news of irresistible printing bargains, and often I am unable to resist them. In one such moment in 2009, I designed a lawn sign, of the sort fans of certain political candidates will stick in front of their houses. I thought, as I designed it, that Claire I would sit in front of our house, rather in the manner of Lucy Van Pelt, administering psychotherapy to visitors to Beacon who’d just visited the Dia:Beacon modern art museum, and who had to walk past our house to get to Maine Street, with its endless art galleries and chic eateries. To sweeten the deal, we offered cold lemonade along with the psychotherapy, at an irresistibly low price — $1/per cup, or $1.25 with the little metal badge the Dia gives people in lieu of ticket stubs. I’ve been receiving psychotherapy off and on since I was 18, and Claire’s seen both seasons of HBO’s sublime In Treatment, and we’re both kind, empathic, and perceptive people, so I figured we couldn’t be any worse than several of the licensed good-for-nothings who’ve taken my money over the years. Claire tired of the USA and returned to her native United Kingdom, though, before we could help with even one patient’s emotional crisis, and the sign languished unglimpsed in the garage.

Yesterday, though, was the day of the Beacon Sloop Club’s gala annual Pumpkin Festival, at which, for the most part, ancient hippies shuffle around in ugly sandals buying local delicacies and signing petitions and picking up informative brochures and what-have-you from tables manned by community activists. St. Pete Seeger is commonly seen, and earnest folk music sung and played with great earnestness by his acolytes. In early afternoon, we went down with a couple of collapsible chairs, our sign, and a couple of cartons of Minute Maid lemonade from Idolatry, put out our proverbial shingle, and waited. Eventually a man with two young sons came over. When he explained that his spouse was herself a shrink, and that he therefore had no need of anything beyond lemonade, I pointed out that it was unethical for her to be treating members of her own family, but he only smirked at me as though to say, “What a dickhead.”

Claire found us a better, more visible location, and several passers-by grinned with delight at our sign, but the only person who spoke to us at length was another shrink, a 75-ish guy in dark glasses and a baseball cap who just stared expressionlessly at our sign for so long that I was sure we’d attracted a real head case until he finally revealed that he was a retired shrink. By and by, we decided to stop trying to fight city hall.

Later, our friends Nathan and Janet (not their real names, but someone’s) came over for a dinner of vegetables that Claire had roasted in the English manner, and disclosed details of their recent visit to the United Kingdom, one of the many countries from which “Nathan” holds a passport, and that in which they'd visited Claire mere days before. Because he was still feeling jet-lagged, or for reasons unknown to us, "Nathan's" fatigue was such that he fell asleep halfway through his ice cream and berries, whereupon we woke him, guided him to his and “Janet’s” car, and wished them a safe journey home.

They live about 90 seconds away.

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