You may remember a few years back when I attended the farewell party for Dr. Oliver Cuddles, psychotherapist extraordinaire. Not only was he retiring but he was heading out on some travels to exotic places around the world. Luckily for me, he’s back in town, just in time to provide me with some pro bono counseling in my time of unemployed need.
We had an emergency session this morning. He came to my house, stretched out on my couch and ordered a turkey sandwich. After much fussing over what to serve him instead, since we’re vegetarians in this house (except for the dog, who happens to adore eating flesh), he ended up with scrambled eggs and toast with a shot of whiskey on the side. Not much has changed, I’m afraid, except he did buy a new hat in Taiwan.
Eventually, we got down to business.
Dr. Cuddles: HELLLLOOO!
Rebecca: Hi, Dr. Cuddles.
Dr. C: Well, you’re looking frightful, my dear.
RC: Yeah, well, you know… I’m pretty much just home all day so I figure…
Dr. C: Your hair is in a state, you aren’t wearing a hint of make-up and this toast you served is burnt.
RC: Could we maybe just talk about my…
Dr. C: I’ve been all around the world, you know, since my retirement. You do know that I’m retired? And I’m doing this just for you?
RC: It’s kind of hard to forget about the retirement thing, since you wear it on your shirt.
Dr. C: While I was away, I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, I captained a ship in the Caribbean, I climbed mountains in Tibet and I saw the Oak Ridge Boys perform in Branson, Missouri.
RC: That’s great. It truly is. Meanwhile, I was working…
Dr. C: And now you have no job. How awful!
RC: It’s not that bad. But everyone has their down days…
Dr. C: I have just the thing. We’ll make a gratitude list.
RC: Like, kind of like… on Oprah?
Dr. C: Who’s Oprah?
RC: I mean, I should make a list of everything I’m grateful for, of everything I have, right?
Dr. C: Not exactly. You should make a list of everything you’re grateful you don’t have. Like cancer. You don’t have cancer, do you?
RC: Not that I know of.
Dr. C: Number one – That I don’t have cancer. Number Two: That I was not bitten by a shark.
RC: That I don’t have to work at Rainbow Foods.
Dr. C: Number four – That I did not unwittingly marry a gay man like author Terry McMillan. Number five – that I am not being sued. Number six – that I am not currently being trampled by elephants.
RC: I don’t think this is exactly what I had in mind…
Dr. C: That I do not live in some Godforsaken holler in West Virginia.
RC: See, this could go on forever but it’s not concrete enough. I think it would be better if I focused on what I have.
Dr. C: I have a Ph.D. You know that, right?
RC: Thus the ‘Dr.’ before your name.
Dr. C: So is it possible that I know more about this than you do? Or was all that time at the University of Guam for nothing?
RC: How come you’re the one on the couch? Shouldn’t I be on the couch and you be in a chair?
Dr. C: I’m retired. You can’t expect me to sit upright all afternoon. Darling, let’s get to at least fifteen on your list and then we can play cards or go to the Dollar Store.
RC: I don’t… OK… Let me think. I’m not a professional clown?
Dr. C: Splendid! You’re not lying in a ditch somewhere with ravens picking away your flesh while a gigantic search party scours the fields just a mile away but moving in the opposite direction?
RC: I have never been attacked by a bear.
Dr. C: Oh my God! I’ve been attacked by a bear! It was awful. It happened on Easter Sunday while I was in Rome. A grizzly attacked me on the Piazza Novona as I was hunting for Easter eggs with the Pope.
RC: Dr. Cuddles… I hate to be rude but I’m getting the sense that you’re exaggerating in order to impress me.
Dr. C: Nothing could be further from the truth. Here. Here’s a photo of it happening:
Dr. C: As you can see, the beast is moving in to attack me. I’m a sitting duck! Luckily, a monsignor shot him at point blank range.
RC: That’s an odd picture. Rome isn’t as picturesque as I’ve heard.
Dr. C: Never mind about that! Look at the giant beast!
RC: Yes, that’s scary.
Dr. C: So, I guess you want to add, ‘Never been attacked by a bear while hunting Easter eggs.’
RC: Yeah. I’ve also never had a tooth knocked out by a falling rock.
Dr. C: How about struck by lightening?
Dr. C: Been caught posting inappropriate photos on Facebook which then ruined your chances for a great job that paid $80K?
Dr. C: Of course not! That was me! I think our work here is done for the day. Let’s go hit the Senior Center and see if we can scare up a game of mahjong.
RC: This has been no help at all and yet I feel better.
Dr. C: A skilled therapist will make you feel that way.
RC: Thanks, Dr. Oliver Cuddles.
Dr. C: I live to serve. On my own time, of course. I’m retired!