If little else, the brain is an educational toy. While it may be a frustrating plaything---whose finer points recede just when you think you are mastering them---it is nonetheless perpetually fascinating, frequently surprising, occasionally rewarding, and it comes already assembled; you don’t have to put it together on Christmas morning.
The problem with possessing such an engaging toy is that other people want to play with it, too. Sometimes they’d rather play with yours than theirs. Or they object if you play with yours in a different manner from the way they play with theirs. The result is, a few games out of a toy department of possibilities are universally and endlessly repeated. If you don’t play some people’s game, they say that you have “lost your marbles”, not recognizing that, while Chinese checkers is indeed a fine pastime, a person may also play dominoes, chess, strip poker, tiddlywinks, drop the soap or Russian roulette with his brain.
One brain game that is widely, if poorly, played is a gimmick called “rational thought”. And like the games in grade school, I was last to be picked for the winning team.
I also had Klaus as my caseworker again and I explained the recent events in my life. He suggested that maybe I should schedule to see the psychoanalyst that visits and treats several of the cases at the mission. Klaus assured me that he didn’t think I was crazy, but having a check up couldn’t hurt.
The following day, I was to see the psyche-doctor at three. Klaus explained to me it would only take about twenty minutes. I said hello to Dr. Guzman. He wanted to ask me a few questions. Guzman and I sat alone in Klaus’s office. Dr. Guzman was a thin Mexican with round gray eyes, speckled with flaws and opaque spots like damaged marbles.
“This will be brief. From talking with you in the hall…I doubt if anything is wrong.” Guzman noted.
The session went on for two hours. Guzman recently graduated from the psychiatric department at the City College and I started to wonder at his medical modis operandi.
When I complained of a lack of purpose in life, Dr. Guzman had yelled, “Purpose! Purposes are for animals with a hell of a lot more dignity than the human race! Just hop on that strange torpedo and ride it to wherever it’s going.”
When I had expressed a wish to overcome my alleged irresponsibility, Dr. Guzman had said, “The man who considers himself ‘responsible’ has not honestly examined his motives.”
When I expressed outrage, Dr. Guzman shouted, “Don’t be outraged, be outrageous!”
When I told him I thought I was a failure, he stared at me and sneered: “So you think that you’re a failure, do you? Well, you probably are. What’s wrong with that? In the first place, if you had any sense at all you must have learned by now that we pay dearly for our triumphs as we do our defeats. Go ahead and fail. But fail with wit, fail with grace, fail with style. A mediocre failure is as insufferable as mediocre success. Embrace failure! Seek it out. Learn to love it. That may be the only way any of us will be free.”
Dr. Guzman was all right. And after all this he diagnosed me as manic-depressive schizophrenic II. Whatever the hell that is. And prescribed me on Prozac and a whole galaxy of other mood depressors.
So, I am confined to the mission and fill my time with intaking new clients. After a couple of filthy intakes, a thin Indian looking boy with a large hooked nose sat at the desk dressed in surfer shorts and a red tank top. I studied the way his nipple poked out of his shirt; I always did have a thing for nipples.
“Can I help you?”
“I need to get a bed for the night.”
“Have you been here before?”
I reached in my desk and took out another intake form.
“Have you talked with the guy up at the front desk?”
Santiago made a pattern over his face with his hands. “The one with the scars? He’s helping out my wife.”
“Yep…he’s a real bitch.” I quipped.
Sienz bent forward lowered his voice, and said jokingly, “He is a queen, huh?”
“Yeah, he’s just bitter because somebody dropped a house on his sister."
We both laughed. I continued with the standard questions, using my wit along the way. Except for that big nose…he’s kinda cute.
I handed Santiago his ticket and told him about the showers. At one last joke, I referred to the bag of tacos that Santiago was holding and said pointing at the bag. “You gonna eat that?”
“No.” Santiago said placing the bag on the desk. “Go ahead and take them.” And with that he walked off into the dorm.
Monty, who was sitting and watching television whirled around and cocked his head, “You are a roguish tramp! Took the mans last tacos and him with a wife!”
The people nearest started to laugh, I turned red. “I was only kidding! Here you want them?”
Monty put up a hand, “No, child! It was your greedy ass that asked for them…you eat them!”
“I was only kidding!” I said in defense. Later I gave them to an old man that looked like he hadn’t eaten for days.