This week, I’m riding the funny wagon off of Take 28. “Romeo”
was funny, but more like middle school funny. This week’s edition
“Therapy with Carl” is funny, but it’s 20-something funny. I’ve
gradjiated! (Yes, I meant to spell it that way. Sound it out.) So
here you have it. “Therapy with Carl.”
“Exactly when was the last time you were in a
relationship?” That’s Carl. Carl is my therapist. And not a very good one, because what therapist starts a session with a bombshell question like that?
My hands are folded in my lap. I think back to
the last break up. It’s disgusting how clearly I can see it. Orange lights. Half full coffee cups. A filled Starbucks. He said we didn’t match anymore. He said there wasn’t anyone else. But of course there was someone else. And the first thing I thought of when he said it was over? How I had already bought his Christmas present. Gag. I silently push a finger down for each year it had been since that day. When I look down, there are four fingers pressed into my fist. Four years. Four years since that two-bit, half-cocked “relationship” came and went in less than 48 hours.
Does it even count?
“Four years,” I say.
Carl sits there. For a therapist, he’s not very emotive. He says he’s a blank page for all our trials. Makes you wonder how dull his life must be outside of therapy.
“And how many romantic ‘opportunities’ would you say you encountered during those four years?”
When Carl says “opportunities,” he says it with air quotes. He means, how many chances did I have for potential relationships but squash with my overbearing, insistent and perfectionistic tendencies. I start to think of any potentials, and I actually arrive at a number — too quickly. I realize I can’t actually answer him because saying “two” out loud will only make me feel exactly like the only word I can’t get out of my head right now: failure. Maybe I could throw Bob the Builder in there for good measure.
I sigh and Carl is all over it.
“Why are you sighing, Perry? What are you thinking? Did you come up with a number? Talk to me, Perry.”
“Two, Carl, there were two.”
“And why do you think those two never came to fruition?”
It could have been any combination of things. Distance, timing, shared friends, basic personalities, nothing in common, desperation?
“It could have been anything,” I say. “Distance,
timing, shared friends, basic personalities, nothing in common, desperation?” I trail off. Carl purses his lips.
“Those are excuses, Perry. Now tell me why they really didn’t work out.”
What the hell, Carl? I can feel my face turn red with angst. I want to spit in Carl’s eye. Instead I blurt out,
“Well, Vern was an asshole who thought a relationship was a string of booty calls and Ron
couldn’t get it up.”
I feel better. Instantly. Carl smirks. He opens his mouth to say something but scratches his chin instead. He can’t wipe that smile off his face, but he won’t look up. He keeps looking at his notepad on his lap. He can’t hold off the grin anymore.
“So what you’re saying is,” he says, smile widening, “things might have worked out if they had each other’s problem?”
Carl is beaming with pride at this joke. Still looking down, he scratches the back of his neck and gives a chuckle.
“That was very good, Carl,” I say. I feel like I’m encouraging a first grader who just learned to write his name.
He smiles and shakes his head, still not looking at me.
“Yes, yes,” he says, “if only every session was that simple.”