Monday, February 8, 2010

Case Study #24

Dear Dr. Brian,

Does the chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?



And Dr. Brian Responds:

Dear Worried Hazel,

Don’t play games with me.

Although you might think that you’re being sly with this innocently-phrased question, you’re not. I’ve seen this feeble ploy thousands of times during my illustrious career spent patching up the damaged minds of countless souls who have strayed across the borders of reality.

And as is usually the case 99% of the time when people choose to use euphemisms in their pleas for assistance, this is really about sex. And, more specific to your case, the lack of sex. In other words, you’re not getting any, and you want to know why.

I just asked Lanae, my trusted assistant, to step into my office, at which point I made the international hand motion for “just got another email from a disillusioned nut job lying about sex, please get on the Internet and find out the real story”. Lanae motioned back with the international symbol for “why are you waving your hand like that, what does that mean?”. I sighed, handed her your email for review, recognition dawned on her face, and she scurried away to do the needful.

So while Lanae proceeds to violate your privacy in a number of electronic ways, I will offer you some preliminary advice based on your deceptive email and my own personal past experience with misguided sheep who wander into my pasture on a daily basis.

Firstly, you really need to change your name, or at least convince your friends and relatives to give you a more alluring nickname of some kind. I may be mistaken, but I don’t believe any newborn child has been given the name “Hazel” since the Truman Administration. This makes you sound very old. With very few startling exceptions, no one wants to have sex with someone whose “Use By Date” expired while “Leave It To Beaver” was still playing in prime time.

Secondly, I strongly suggest that you change your email address. “Desperateandlonely” is not a good user name, especially when coupled with the fact your account is with “”. I’m sure the folks at Yahoo are very nice people, but the company name brings to mind visions of inbred farmers at a square dance. Granted, there’s the slim possibility that you would LIKE people to associate you with friendless and needy people bobbing for apples while livestock is being auctioned nearby, but I seriously doubt it.

Ah, Lanae has just returned with a detailed profile of your life, which she was able to obtain by simply typing your name into Goggle and hitting “enter”. (Technology is amazing, yes?) Let’s see what we have. Hmm. I see. Oh? That’s intriguing. Really? Yes, I fully expected THAT bit. Uh huh. Okay, then.

Now, the very first thing you need to do is hang up the phone. I can confirm that you spend at least 14 hours of any given day talking on the phone or texting someone with your phone. Not only is this annoying to anyone around you, it’s also completely unhealthy. How did you get to this point? I am starting an intervention right now.

You don’t need to talk on the phone while you’re cleaning your house. That’s just ludicrous. How can you possibly expect for things to be “clean” if you’re only using one hand? And of course, texting usually requires the use of two hands. If both of your hands are frantically occupied in a frenzy of meaningless texting, you are NOT getting any house-cleaning done, and are therefore lying to yourself once again. The madness must end.

And for God’s sake, stop SLEEPING with your phone, clutching the device near your ear. Some things can just wait until morning. You cannot possibly be getting restful sleep if you keep jerking yourself awake every three minutes to ensure you didn’t miss an update from one of your friends that they did, indeed, have a successful bowel movement.

If you really desire some physical intimacy with a willing partner, you will need to put all of the electronics aside, even the one that you affectionately refer to as “Mr. Happy”. Especially THAT one. It may come as a surprise to you, but it is not mentally healthy to be having extended late-night conversations with something that has to be recharged on a regular basis.

Next step, stop going out drinking and carousing with that female buddy of yours that claims to be your friend. She is not. She is miserably unhappy in her own personal life, and therefore she is determined that no one in a five-mile radius should be happy, either. She is sucking the life out of you with her manipulative and vengeful ways.

You should not trust this woman. At all.

She may claim to have your best interests at heart, but these are just miserable lies. She is, in fact, doing everything she can to scuttle even the slightest possibility of you making a love connection with anyone on the planet.

Now, I’m sure you’re a wee bit skeptical about me speaking so disparagingly of someone you consider to be a best friend, and I fully expected such a reaction. Therefore, I am attaching a video file that my assistant found on “”. This is surveillance footage of you and your bestie having drinks at O’Malley’s last Friday. (Why someone chose to record this, I haven’t the faintest idea, but we really don’t need to dwell on that, do we?)

Since you clearly haven’t been paying attention throughout your supposed friendship with this Lola person, I am going to point out certain time stamps where you should carefully review the captured activities.


Here we have you and Lola just arriving for the night of drinking. As you review the seating options, your friend is working her way around the tables, apparently greeting a surprising number and assortment of friends. You are slightly jealous that she is so popular, but you let it go.

In reality, Lola doesn’t know these people at all. Instead, she is making sure that all possibly-unattached males in the room are aware that your name is “Hazel”. Lola is using crafty psychology, fully aware that associating your face with an unattractive appellation will create a subconscious tendency to avoid social contact with you.

Now, some of these men are already so drunk that they could care less if your name was “Shrimp Salad” or “Pancreas”. You still have an outside chance with them. But several of the men immediately turn the other direction to avoid eye contact. And one particular gentleman, the one in the red shirt, will instantly have flashbacks of the mean-spirited grandmother who used to beat him with a blackberry branch. Notice how he then turns to the brawny stranger on his right and strikes up a desperate, fear-fueled conversation. Interestingly enough, they immediately fell in love and will be married in six months in Vancouver.

You simply walked into the bar and yet you’ve managed to turn another one gay. Poor girl.


As you finally take your seats, notice how Lola graciously offers you the better-placed chair so that you can survey the room with more ease. You think this is very kind of her. In reality, she has surreptitiously loosened strategic screws in the chair so that it will slowly come apart over the next several hours, eventually shifting dramatically to one side.

What this means, sadly, is that as you consume more beverages, you will not notice that your substantial breasts are no longer on an even keel. In fact, the degree of variance will become so distinct that you will take on a frightening asymmetrical look that will prove quite disconcerting to any lusty males who glance your direction. No one wants to sleep with someone who could have posed for Picasso.


Deceptive Lola is now happily prodding you toward one specific entry on the appetizer menu, speaking rapturously of the divine taste of the item. Again, you think she’s just helping you out. Rather, she has carefully researched the ingredients required for such a dish, and is fully aware that two of the main components will internally combine in such a way that you will develop a gas bubble the size of the Hindenburg.

She has also secretly snatched the GasX medication out of your purse while you were otherwise concerned with the consumption of an alcoholic shot bearing the curious title of “Pink Creamy Snapper”.


As the evening progresses, more beverages are consumed, and your hazy focus is not as crisp as it should be, what with the constant texts to your phone (“Cleaning the lint out of the dryer! Yay!”) and your growing physical discomfort, Lola becomes bolder. She knows you’re no longer paying attention, and she is swatting away the few men who have managed to get through her carefully-laid obstacles.

(If you turn up the volume, you can actually hear some of the outrageous phrases she whispers to these men. “I’m her probation officer.”, “She’s clinically insane. Would you like to see the papers?”, and “She’s had crabs so many times she might as well open a Red Lobster.”)

Of course, if any of these men are actually interested in LOLA, her game plan is completely different. In these instances, she jerks the man into the seat beside her and immediately shoves her tongue down his startled throat.


Despite all of Lola’s insidious efforts, one man finally breaks through and actually gets your full attention. He’s very cute, has a great smile, and just wanted to say hey. He politely reaches his hand across the table. You, beaming, and unaware that a line of drunken drool has just dripped off your chin, raise your own hand to meet him halfway.

Lola, watching all of this with a totally fake smile showing gritted teeth, nudges your chair leg with just a tiny little tap.

The chair collapses and you are plummeting to the earth. In your panic, you grab hold of the tablecloth, and manage to pull down a rain of plates, condiments, and beer bottles, creating a racket that stops traffic on the nearby Interstate. As the clatter finally levels off and the bottles quit rolling, the roiling gas bubble finally makes its debut, entering from both sides of the stage at once, if you will, and echoing about the room.

The man slowly withdraws his hand, glances at Lola (who glances back with a long-suffering “this happens ALL the time” expression), turns on his heel, marches away, and you never see him again.

Lola then helps you to your feet, wiping away the tears and the Teriyaki sauce in your hair. She helps you gather your things, waits slyly while YOU pay the entire check out of pure shame and embarrassment, and then escorts you to the door. Mission accomplished.

Poor, sad, in-denial Hazel. Please speak with Lanae about arranging your next appointment.

In Anticipation,

Dr. Brian

Friday, February 5, 2010

Case Study #23

Dear Dr. Brian,

Is beer ever NOT a good idea?



And Dr. Brian responds:

Dearest Tiffany,



Dr. Brian










Dearest Tiffany, Part II,

I have just been informed by my assistant, Lanae, that my original response was apparently in violation of some type of legal precedent in the state where you reside. It seems that if you PAY for a full counseling session in Texas, then you must RECEIVE an entire hour’s worth of treatment, whether you need it or not. Otherwise, Texans are allowed to whip out one of their many concealed handguns and use it as they see fit.

This saddens me slightly. Upon first opening your emailed submission, I was quite delighted to find a query that I could answer so concisely, concretely and, most importantly, quickly. I rarely have more than a few minutes to spare in any given day, since this world is jam-packed with hooligans needing clinical intervention, so I was ecstatic over the sudden opportunity for a nice cup of tea and some Facebook farming before my next patient.

Then Lanae, being the snippy little troll that she sometimes can be, snatched away my Earl Grey, closed the farming application window just as I was about to win some award for high-caliber radish collection, and then thrust a book of Texas bylaws under my irritated and borderline-offended nose. She pointed at something she had highlighted in yellow, then turned tail and marched back to the front office, where I could hear someone beating on the desk bell like the Titanic had just hit that damn iceberg.

Anyway, since I’m much more cautious of potential legal matters after the ugly incident with the vegetable and the can of Crisco in Paris, I suppose that I should give your question another run.

Normally, I fully advise the consumption of alcohol whenever possible. In moderation, of course, with moderation referring to how much you can afford. But I suppose I can come up with a few instances where sobriety might possibly be preferable, and thereby I can officially extend your counseling session to the point where you are not allowed to shoot me during a moment of dissatisfaction.

Let’s see. Scenarios where it might be best to turn down the proffered Jello shots. Hmm. How about:

1. Funeral services where the gathering of mourners is hillbilly-ugly, and most of them are wearing flannel.

As you originally hail from Missouri, I’m sure you’ve had plenty of opportunity to personally review such an assemblage. Hillbillies are notoriously stupid and are constantly getting themselves killed. If you hear a hillbilly shout “Hey, watch me do this!”, prepare to dial 9-1-1.

You want to remain sober as long as you can during the burial services. You know that you are going to be tempted to provide scathing social commentary as you survey the train wreck, and that you will need to stifle laughter when they pull out the instruments for the 21-banjo salute. You must not give in to these urges, and therefore it is advised that alcohol not touch your lips until Billy Bob is safely lowered in the ground and his 13 children are trying to figure out where to throw the handful of dirt.

Because, you see, hillbillies are not the sharpest catalog in the outhouse, but they do have a dim recognition of when someone is making fun of them. And they only have three emotions: sexual release, hatred of neighbors with surnames of either Hatfield or McCoy, and intolerance for uppity city-folk who suck back a cold one and then laugh at the fact the someone might not be wearing shoes.

Once provoked, the hillbilly will race in the direction of the offensive human, grunting and making noises that might be mistaken for a mating call, and then proceed to rip apart the weak city girl with the fondness for Miller Lite. You won’t have time to run away and leap into your expensive automobile with the fancy navigational system. The hillbilly, especially in his native habitat, can move at amazing speeds. Apparently teeth are much heavier than anyone realized, because when you don’t have any, you can run like the wind.


2. Church services where singing is allowed.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how such a situation could be marred by alcohol-fueled tragedy. Unfortunately, it happens much more often than you realize. And the whole ordeal is intensified by the unique societal conditions usually found within a church, where everyone is pretending to not pass judgment on their fellow man when they really are.

It usually starts very innocently. Maybe Aunt Cleo thinks a little nip of the cooking sherry in her satchel would be just the trick for her splitting migraine. Or maybe cousin Rowdie just found that bottle of hooch he stashed in his boot at the barn dance the night before, and hopes that a quick swig will get rid of the fertilizer taste in his mouth. Or maybe the saintly president of the Baptist Quilting League is nursing a bottle of Dayquil, telling herself that she just needs it to get over the flu, but still loving the fact that she’s starting to feel really pretty.

Then evil things start falling into place. The pews are overly crowded, the air-conditioning isn’t working quite right, someone has doused themselves in so much foo-foo cologne that people are nauseous and there’s a real threat that the gas stove in the Joyful Snack Bar could explode. Tempers flair.

Next thing you know, there are shouts of ungodly sentiments, dresses are ripped, small children are screaming, and the offering plate comes sailing out of nowhere and beans the second deacon as he is lowering little Lyla Mae into the baptismal waters in the giant bathtub behind the pulpit. (Subsequently, little Lyla never learns to swim and lives in constant fear that dinnerware might suddenly become airborne.)

And while the faithful are clawing each other apart and rolling around on the marble floor, here comes yours truly, sashaying down the main aisle, still liquored up from a midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, burning with the need to sing a song about the plight of intergalactic transvestites. I shake the rice out of my hair, toss aside a roll of toilet paper, and then…

I’m sorry. I seem to have confused my own experiences with yours. Perhaps it’s just ME that should avoid houses of worship while crocked. Let’s move on, shall we?

3. Zoos.

The temptation is already there to feed the animals. Throw Jack Daniels into the mix, stir in the stupidity of proffering a banana to a gorilla, and next thing you know the hairy beast has snatched you over the railing, dragged you in to the love cave, and is affectionately checking you for head lice and whispering sweet nothings in your ear. And if the zoo attendants are drunk as well, they might even put Barry White on the public sound system.

4. It’s late at night and you are still on Facebook.

If you’re tired and drunk, you will invite anyone to be your friend. ANYONE. Then there’s all those insipid comments that you post, thinking you are being incredibly witty and that everyone will love you. And you stupidly download tons of game apps that you never intend to play, allowing everyone from George Bush to the Soviet Secret Police access to your personal information, hitting the “OK” button with a drunken yell of “hell, YEAH!”.

The next morning, you awaken innocently, humming a little ditty about flowers and kittens as you put the coffee on to brew. As the aroma fills the air, you log into your PC, chirpily signing in to your account. Then your scream of horror and wretchedness echoes throughout the house.

Your friend count has doubled, there are 15 somewhat aggressive emails from people who did NOT accept your invite and want to know who the hell you are, you have “gifts” from total strangers playing something called “Balls of Steel”, all of your nonsense comments have sub-posts with concerned people asking if you’re okay, and there’s a marriage proposal from someone named Ignatiev in Moscow.

You quietly turn off the PC and begin filling out change-of-address cards. You let the phone go to voice mail when your mother calls 7 consecutive times in a total panic. Yes, you friended her last night after an especially tasty margarita, added porno links to her wall, and then sent a Flair button reading “Mommies = Pain”.

Sound familiar? I thought it might, especially since I just spoke with your mother, who is under heavy sedation as the result of a strange man with a foreign accent calling her in the middle of the night, demanding a dowry and wanting to know when she would be available for the goat herding.

This is the REAL reason for your email, isn’t it? The truth always comes out.

By the way, I’m having your mother flown in for your next session. I would imagine that this encounter will be a very lengthy ordeal. You might want to pack a lunch. And no, beer would NOT be a good idea.

In anticipation,

Dr. Brian

Monday, February 1, 2010

Case Study #22

Dr. Brian, 

I am heading to Dallas in two days and will be staying with my mother for five weeks. Should I humor her and go to church or sleep in and be true to my heathen self?


Bowletta Dingleberry

And Dr. Brian responds:

Dear Bowletta,

  What an extraordinary name. I’m assuming that this is not an appellation that you selected for yourself, as some rebellious young people are prone to do upon discovering that they have a boring personality and need to mix things up a  bit. I mean really, no person of sound mind would willingly name themselves after something you might encounter at the Sunday brunch table.

  Therefore, this name had to have come from your one or both of your parents. I’m assuming one, since I can’t imagine two people in strong agreement that naming their child “Bowletta” would  be a smashing idea. And regardless of who came up with this hideous name, I hope they came to their senses and stopped the madness after brandishing you in the way they did, and that your younger siblings were spared.

  However, if you do indeed have a sister named Tureen or perhaps a brother named Gravy Boat, please have them contact me immediately. Severe therapy is in order, assuming that they have not already been institutionalized.

  But let’s bring this back to you. As is typically the case, children are usually given names by their mothers. The fathers, assuming that they can be identified and held at least minimally responsible for the upbringing of the squalling new life form, generally are not much interested in what to call the creature that belches and poos.

  Instead, the fathers are much more invested in things like motor oil, grass clippings, and viewing national sporting events where people are engaged in athletic maneuvers that the father could never hope to exhibit. But this does not stop him from loudly proclaiming, often with the encouragement of alcohol, exactly what those players should be doing, and when they should do it. (These fathers often have a mystifying hatred of men dressed in black and white stripes, but that’s a whole other neurosis.)

  And this is the basic setup for the remainder of the child-rearing cycle. The mother, who has already suffered enough with the ugly maternity outfits and the awkward discomfort of strangers gathering between her wish-boned legs for impromptu consultations, must continue bearing the burden of keeping you alive.

  One would think that, post-delivery, the man would step up to the plate and take charge, allowing the exhausted woman a lengthy downtime wherein she can re-introduce herself to her toes as well as contemplate the fact that her girlish figure has gone the way of her virginity.

  Sadly, this is rarely the case. The father, in his near-sightedness and testosterone-fueled stupidity, assumes that his 7 minutes of heavy breathing during conception has somehow paid in full his contribution to the raising of the child. After that point, any questions, concerns or complaints should be directed to the mother, since she was the one in charge of the processing plant where the urchin was assembled.

  Anyway, the mother, along with all the other formidable duties surrounding offspring, is typically the one who assigns your unit name. As such, the given name of any child is a direct reflection of the mother’s state of mind and well-being up to the point of delivery. If she is mentally healthy and had a relatively pleasant experience during product development, she will christen the child with something lovely like Emily or Preston.

  Therefore, sad and unfortunate Bowletta, I’m afraid your mother did not extensively enjoy her internment as a vessel for continuing the human race. Apparently there was some extensive and growing resentment concerning the beast within. Perhaps you kicked a bit too much during amniotic playtime, or maybe you kept arranging for Chinese food to be delivered and she grew tired of having to answer the door while her favorite soap was playing on TV.

  In any case, some frustrating factor or another caused enough aggravation that your mother chose to punish you with an outlandish name that normally would be reserved for characters on Saturday morning cartoons or nasty pole-dancers at low-rent strip clubs where the appetizers are questionably prepared.

  What’s this? Ah, Lanae has just handed me an update for your budding file. It seems, Bowletta, that you were adopted by your parents, clutched from a potentially different fate and raised by parents who were not directly responsible for the blood flowing in your veins. Well, then. That introduces an exciting new mix of possible mental ailments.

  However, the underlying issue is still the same. Whether your name was chosen by your adoptive parents, or you arrived on their doorstep with a predetermined designation, it’s clear that someone, at some point, was not happy about something that could feasibly be blamed on you. Thusly, you were christened in a slanderous manner, and you bear the scars of such an episode to this very day, wincing every time you sign the credit card slip when Chinese is delivered to your door.

  So, having rambled on about all that, hopefully providing you with some psychological insight into why you have felt dejected and lonely most of your life, let’s return to your initial query. I always find it best to carefully evaluate each turn of phrase that you commit to paper so that we can get to the true root of your many and varied issues.

  “I am heading to Dallas in two days”

  WHY are you heading to Dallas? The fact that you have to head here means that you are NOT here at the moment. You live elsewhere. You have escaped the overheated land of your shameful upbringing. You have left behind the people who knew you as Little Bowlie, the girl with emotionally-distant parents that cried a lot and never seemed satisfied with her choice of snow cone at the state fair.

  I strongly heed you to reconsider your apparent decision to return to the scene of the crime. Is there really any benefit in doing so? Perhaps you should let the screaming of the lambs finally fade away, yes?

  “and will be staying with my mother for five weeks.”

  Are you out of your shame-ridden mind? Five WEEKS? There is absolutely no reason for this. Even the mentally-healthy Emily’s of the world wouldn’t dream of returning home for that length of time after finally leaping from the comfortable nest. This is madness. I strongly urge you to find or fabricate a scheduling conflict of some kind, thereby reducing your availability and vulnerability.

  If you’d like, I can sign some legal papers forcing you to attend one of our intensive on-site, minimal-restraint seminars here at Bonnywood Manor. There are many lovely options to choose from. Might I suggest “Cold Mommies and Cold Food” or “Daddy Makes Me See Ugly Visions”. Both programs have very high success rates.

  “Should I humor her”

  You cannot humor her. She finds nothing amusing in any way. If Lanae’s speedy research on the Internet is sound, this woman has not laughed since 1954, when there was that notorious barbecue at the Smithfield’s wherein the aperitifs were a bit too strong coupled with somebody making a critical error with the ingredients for the Planter’s Punch. There’s a footnote that your mother had all photos from the party destroyed because she was caught smiling.

  “and go to church”

  Do not enter a church at this time. I cannot stress this strongly enough. There’s far too much drama surrounding your maternal relationship as it is. Why would you want to invite further turmoil by prancing into a house of worship filled with righteous prigs who will take one whiff of you and immediately sound the gong signaling an Emergency Prayer Circle?

  Do not give your mother fodder for further humiliation. The church is her territory, she owns this hallowed ground, peopled with an overwhelming number of disciples who adhere to the like-minded principles that a properly-raised child must constantly cower and wail and endlessly beg for forgiveness of imaginary sins.

  And that’s just too much work. Take her to the park instead. Sit on a bench, and admire the trees and the calming reflection pool. If she starts to ratchet up into her craziness, you can always race down one of the nearby jogging paths, claiming to have noticed a mugging in progress. She will not be able to keep up with you, because she’s old, and you will have a few moments to regulate your breathing and refrain from slandering her gilded reputation. Mommy will never change, so avoidance of issues is the only recourse.

  “or sleep in and be true to my heathen self?”

  Yes, let’s do that.

  Heathen or not, there’s only so much time in the day. Why waste valuable minutes rehashing long-standing issues that will never be resolved? Your mother is your mother, and you are you, no matter how sordid and twisted things may be. Sometimes you can bake brownies together, where there’s a least a minimum of warmth and everyone can pretend that each of you doesn’t know the exact two words you can utter to send someone else into an apoplectic frenzy.

  Other times, you’re just not going to win. Suck it up, wait for the tenseness to pass, and look forward to those special times when nobody has an agenda, everybody manages to be decent, an exquisite wine is uncorked, and the delicious meal that all helped to prepare is peppered with amusing stories, the nice kind, where people chuckle instead of seethe. Family, for now. Hold on tightly to that.

  However, because reality has a history of intruding on all familial gatherings, and enhanced by the fact that you graciously pre-paid for your future counseling sessions, I have instructed Lanae to activate the First-Response Unpleasant Mother Protocols (FRUMP). Take this medic-alert necklace with you, and wear it at all times.

  If you encounter a motherly situation where you just can’t handle it anymore, just press the designer panic button. Immediately, a black-ops helicopter will be dispatched from the nearest rescue center and race to your current location. When you hear the approaching buzz of the chopper, simply lift your arms in the air, grasp the descended ladder, and the team will whisk you away into the night. You do not have to leave the recuperation facility until you feel fit enough to do so.

Enjoy your visit,

Dr. Brian