Most of the time, Alex used his time with Dr. Simone to perform a freestyle rant he’d rehearsed in his mind over the span of time between the visit and visit before. A kind of Best of Alex Sunderland, he would edit the events in the space between and compile them into his performance.
“You’re being too philosophical,” Dr. Simone interrupted the piece halfway through it. Alex shivered. “At some point you have to just accept that this is the world that we live in. You need to be more practical.”
Alex and his roommate were keeping a jar in the living room for every time someone told them they weren’t being practical. It was halfway filled with quarters.
Simone wrote him another prescription for Prozac and Ritalin.
He tried to get back into the piece. “I’m ill-suited for success in the context of the machine.”
It was like Simone distilled the behavior of shared rhetorical interactions to math. Although Simone wasn’t the first to perfect the distillation of psychiatry; so much so that Alex was finding it hard not to see his therapist as a wildly exaggerated caricature of a shrink. He almost enjoyed toying with Simone. Alex knew the formula too.
(c-lw) + ? = Ph.D
c = client’s last sentence
lw = last word of sentence
Sometimes Alex noticed that more suave practitioners would gussy up lw by adding extra words but really, when you strip it all down, the indivisible component was still lw combined with a question mark.
I could be a shrink, Alex stared at the slick sheen of saliva that dribbled out around the pen in Simone’s mouth, down his chin and onto his lapel. I should be a shrink.