DELUSIONAL or Who are you calling Anal-Retentive?
By Mel Goldberg
The other day my wife walked into the bedroom I use as a studio, where I have my computer and I write. “Who were you talking to?”
“I heard you. You were discussing philosophy with Bertrand Russell.”
“Russell said that a hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it.”
“Russell may be right but you are delusional. You should try to act more normal. Like Jane’s husband, Jerry.”
I know Jerry. I even like him. He’s is a retired CPA who has an office in his house. He has a cabinet with drawers that are labeled for different types of ink pens and pencils. He would never put a number 2 pencil in with the number 4 pencils. Once he cautioned me when I was about to put a pencil in a drawer with pens. That’s a bit anal but sometimes I think I’d like to be more normal, so I went to see a therapist.
”What’s the problem?” she asked.
I’ve been told I’m delusional because I talk to people who aren’t there.
“I see,” she said. “You sometimes talk to people who aren’t there.”
“And my wife thinks I need to act more normal.”
“So your wife thinks you need to act more normal.”
She sounded like an echo. “Yes,” I said. “That’s why I’m here.” I wanted to ask her why she kept telling me what I already knew. I wanted her to tell me what I didn’t know. When I explained that the desk in my studio had stacks of stories I had written and sometimes I would discover one after I had looked for it days earlier.
“Maybe you need to be more organized,” the therapist said. “I couldn’t function if I took notes and kept them in a pile and said, ‘Oh, I’ll put them in patients’ folders later.”
I asked, “How does that relate to me?”
“It’s called being organized. I think I can help you.”
I should have gone to someone who knows she can help me. I asked her, “Have you ever seen the movie The Fisher King with Robin Williams? Or A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe? They’re both about people who are really delusional.”
“No,” she said. “I don’t care for fantasy, only like real life.”
I told her fiction and movies are about real life. In fact sometimes fiction is more real than life but she ignored me.
She prepared a folder with my name and put her notes in it. Then she said, “We need to take a scan of your brain. Some of your signals may be getting mixed up.”
I wondered who she meant by we? Only the two of us were in her office. She sent me to see a doctor the next day.
The doctor took me to a room with a big machine and told me to lie down on the hard bed and put my head on the plastic covered pillow. Then he pushed me into the machine to look at my brain. The machine hummed and thumped like a Grateful Dead tune that I recognized so I hummed and tapped my fingers and nodded my head. He told me to be quiet and lie still and think about flowers in a meadow. I thought of my green and yellow cat that slept at the foot of my bed every night. My wife had told me the cat was gray and white, but I knew his true color. I even knew his secret cat name that only other cats know but he shared it with me one morning when I thanked him for bringing me a dead mouse as a gift.
I fell asleep in the machine.
The doctor woke me and showed me a sheet with squiggly lines. He pointed to one and said, “That’s your problem. This line should go up but it goes down.” Then he gave me a prescription for Risperidal. “Take one every morning with your breakfast. It will make your life more normal. And cut out coffee and alcohol.”
I told him I drank three or four cups coffee every day. And once a week I drank a few beers with some friends. After I left his office, I went to see one of my friends and told him about my experience with the therapist and the doctor.
“I took Risperidal once,” he said. “It almost made me crazy. I had headaches all the time. And they told me not to drive. It’ll make you dizzy and tired and you won’t be able to think clearly. Throw that shit away and try one of these.”
He gave me some of his special brownies and told me they’d make me feel much better.
“Will they make me stop talking to people who aren’t there?”
“No. But you won’t mind and you’ll like them.”
When I got home, I ate a brownie with my coffee and had a beer. Then I went into my studio and got into a discussion with Hemingway about William Faulkner’s work.
“Poor Faulkner,” Hemingway said. “Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
But Faulkner had a rebuttal. “Hemingway has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
Then I sat at my computer with my cat on my lap to help me and we started writing a science fiction story about space aliens posing as CPAs.