Friday, June 19, 2009


Photo from

I had a no good, horrible, very bad stomach ache last week.

It lasted two no good, horrible, very bad days and then went away.

It took me back to my 11th grade Spanish class - the day that I discovered that a dull, constant stomach ache was actually not a stomach ache, but a no good, horrible, very bad ulcer. Our family doctor could not figure out what would cause such a young patient to develop an ulcer... so he recommended I visit a psychiatrist.

Do you know what this does to a teenage girl? Thoughts raced through my mind as the day of my appointment drew closer. Am I crazy? Is something wrong with me? Will he have a couch for me to lay on like they do in the movies? Is he going to try to get me to divulge things that I don't want to talk about?

It was certainly not like I had imagined. When I walked into the office, alone, the lady at the front desk asked for my name and then told me to have a seat. Next, the craziest thing happened! She asked if I would like something to drink. What kind of doctor offers you something to drink? I wondered. It was probably some kind of truth serum to get me to loosen up and share all the secrets I kept tucked away in the innermost corners of my mind. I wasn't going to fall for it. "No, thank you," I answered as I sat and thumbed mindlessly through a magazine I had no interest in.

After a few minutes, I was led back to The Office.

He began with small talk, asking about what I was interested in at school, how many kids were in my family - pretty basic stuff. And then he thanked me for coming and told me he was looking forward to the next week. What? I thought to myself. My parents are paying this guy to just sit here and talk to me? What a total rip off!

I told my mom as much when she picked me up. "The doctor says you need to do this," she insisted. "To figure out where your ulcers are coming from. Just give it a chance." I reluctantly agreed.

The next week was mostly the same... only worse. Another offer of a drink (Ha! I thought. I'm totally on to you! You won't get anything out of me!), another awkward visit with a 50-something man who asked me a bunch of stupid questions. It went something like this:

Dr: So, what do you think is causing this ulcer?

My thoughts: That's why I'm here, stupid! So you can figure it out.

Me: I don't know.

Dr: Hmmm. Interesting. Do you get along well with your parents? Your brothers and sisters?

Me: Yes.

Dr: Do you have good relationships with your friends?

Me: Yep.

Dr: How about your boyfriend?

Me: (turning red) I don't have a boyfriend.

Dr: Is there someone you have your eye on? Someone you would like to have as your boyfriend?

My thoughts: Shut up already, Mr. 50-year-old-doctor-guy-I-hardly-even-know! This is so embarrassing. Can an enormous black void please just open up here and swallow me whole?! What do I say? Will he know if I'm lying? Don't they train these guys to know this stuff? What should I do? I don't want to talk about this with him. Okay... I'll be vague. I won't lie, but I won't give him what he wants. I WILL NOT TALK!

Me: I guess.

Dr: Tell me more about him.

My thoughts: You have got to be kidding me, old man! This is personal stuff. There is NO WAY on God's green earth that I will tell you anything about him! I didn't drink any of your truth serum. You can't make me talk! I'll sit here and not answer. I'll pretend I didn't hear the question.

Dr: (looking at me, waiting for my response)

And the next thing I know, I'm spilling my guts. Truth serum or not, the awkward silence got it out of me. My thoughts and dreams of Thatguy over the previous 5 years were filling the empty space between us until there was nothing remaining. Before I could take it all back, it was over. This perfect stranger knew things that I hadn't even told some of my closest friends, and I was sick with myself. My ulcer hurt like never before.

And then he made The Assignment.

"You like drama class, right? Well, I want you to write a script for your own Life Play. Write out what you and Thatguy would say to each other if everything went the way you wanted. And bring it with you next week. Okay?"

Inside, I was seething. My parents pay you to assign me homework now? I thought to myself. Here's the script for my Life Play. I don't need a week. I've had it written out for years now.

Me: Hey, hottie.

Thatguy: (winking) Hey, gorgeous.

Me: I have loved you for 5 years. I write about you in my journal and dream about you all the time. Want to make out?

Thatguy: I thought you'd never ask.

(making out ensues)

The end.

What do you think about that, Dr. Quack? Can you diagnose my ulcer now?

But what I said was, "Okay."

When I met my mom down in the parking lot she asked me how it went. "Awesome!" I lied. "He says I'm totally normal. Everything's fine. I don't have to go back anymore!"

"Well, that's a relief," she signed to me. "Our insurance wasn't covering these visits. I'm glad we won't have to pay for them anymore."

And that was the last I saw of the no good, horrible, very bad psychiatrist.

The End.


Anaise said...

First of all, we love Alexander and his "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." I guess that means I caught your literary reference. :)

Secondly, I'm sorry you haven't felt well--your last post about everything there is to do to get ready for girls' camp left me exhausted just thinking about it. In spite of your excitement, are you a little overwhelmed with all the preparations in addition to your regular life's work?

Thirdly, you have the most amazing memory! I know my teen years happened, but they are like another life that is all rather misty and vague in my brain. Your ability to recall details is remarkable.

And, I'm glad you didn't go back to the psychiatrist again!

NoSurfGirl said...


I'm sorry.

Did your ulcers clear up?

My mom had real anxiety issues when I was a child, and so she saw a therapist pretty regularly. She dragged me along on a couple of occasions and I HATED it. It's so funny... kids, and how matter-of-fact they are. Why are you asking me these stupid questions? I totally remember feeling like that.

So did your ulcers clear up? :)

Did you ever say anything to thatguy?? I"m on pins and needles here.

Gerb said...

Anaise- 1st: That is a great book.

2nd: Absolutely overwhelmed. But it is all totally worth it. I told Allen the other day about how I am like a kid waiting for Christmas and he was glad to hear it because he was sure I was NOT excited about camp this year with all the stuff I've been doing the past couple of weeks. But I am super excited. There's nothing like the peace I feel up there at MIA Shalom.

3rd: Certain occasions in my life play out like a novel or movie in my mind. It's a good and bad thing - some things I'd rather not remember so vividly, you know?

NSG- The ulcers did clear up after a couple of years. They stopped hurting after a year or so.

And, re: Thatguy, we were friends the entire time I was in love with him, but he never knew the extent of my feelings. He was in the large group of church-friends that I hung out with in my teenage years but nothing ever happened between us. Apparently stalking doesn't always work. :)

Gina said...

You are such a CODA!

Rebecca said...

I found out a couple of guys in our neighborhood are therapists. And now, even though they seem like really nice guys, I'm scared of them both. I'm scared to talk to them, because I don't want to be analyzed. (Don't we worry enough about the way regular old nobodies analyze us, let alone those who are trained to do so?!)

But then, I'd really like to know what THEY're thinking sometimes. So who's the quack, him or me??

Gerb said...

Gina- I will take that as a compliment, and say Thank You.

Bec- Him. Totally him. Because us girls are therapists for each other and don't need no stinkin' doctors.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Alexander--don't we all have a guy from high school just like that whom we were complete idiots over for forever, but they were just...oblivious? Mine called me Speller for 6 years (because I went to Scripps Howard 2x), fondly tweaked my waist length hair, was angry when I chopped it off to spite him, and loved to flaunt his beautiful girlfriend at me. We must be Nuts, is all I'm saying.

Gerb said...

L- Amen to all of it. I hope to raise my girls to not be so stupid over a guy, but (unfortunately) I think it's like some rite of passage we all go through.