Sunday, June 27, 2010

Case Study #31

Dear Dr. Brian,

If people from Boston are called Bostonians, and those from San Francisco are called San Franciscans, what are the ones from Dallas called? Dallasinians?

Your friend,


Dear Larua,

No, that is not a typo with your name. I must confess that it was originally so, but after carefully analyzing your submission, I feel that a minimal adjustment in the spelling of your name could prove beneficial. It is now a distinctive name, it will advance you slightly in those irritating lists where people are alphabetized, and it’s more fun to type. (Try it on your keyboard.) Therefore, as your physician, I am advising that you change your name immediately. I’ll have Lanae send the legal forms shortly.

Now, to more firmly address your query, it is important that we minutely analyze each element of your email. Even a small alteration in grammar, spelling or wording can change things in an astonishing manner. (To continue my previous thread, an online posting about someone named “Laura” could prove somewhat entertaining, while a posting with a free spirit named “Larua” becomes an instant bookmark, with its tantalizing possible details about tropical islands, or rock groups with fervent groupies, the kind who enjoy flinging their undergarments during concerts and living in communes where everyone helps make real butter.)

So, I must keep an open mind concerning the manner in which I can assist you. An initial observation would be that you have a geographical fixation of some kind. (This is a very real malady, with people over-using Google Earth , especially that “zoom in” feature, resulting in nightmares where troubled souls envision themselves slamming into the planet, suffering uncomfortable body realignments as country and city names whiz by them in a terrifying blur.)

Sadly, because EarthSlamPhobia was mentioned on the Oprah Winfrey show, it has become very popular of late, and some trendy physicians are quick to misdiagnose patients who are actually suffering from something that has not been publicized on talk shows that will be ending in 2011. In a related trend, there is a misperception among the populace that the cure for EarthSlamPhobia is an Intervention.

I’m sure you’ve heard of these ghastly things, where friends and family trick you into attending a dinner party or an outing to the zoo, and then they all gang up on you, demanding that you stop doing something that they don’t care for. These things never work, not only because you instantly hate them for their pushiness and subterfuge, but because your friends and family are not trained specialists. If they were, they would be appearing on TV, not sitting on your couch and bellowing self-help quotes from some odd website they found when Facebook was down and they were bored.

And really, all these platitudes along the lines of “We love you and we are here for you.” What is THAT? Seriously. If they are there for you, then they should have been around when you first mistakenly assumed that Percocet was an antihistamine, discovered that taking the cute little pills made things pretty and you no longer cared about troublesome facets of your life like relatives who intervene, and then began selling household appliances to insure that you kept not caring.

Anyway, I do believe I can eliminate the possibility of you having a geographical neuroses, simply by reviewing the cities you mentioned in your submission. You have listed both coasts, as well as a city smack in the middle of the country. This means you do not discriminate, which is a fine thing in itself, but also eliminates you from qualifying for any of the Mapsco family of maladies. People who suffer from such tend to focus on specific regions, like southern towns where folks speak with too many vowels or Colorado resorts where caretakers snap in the winter and get abusive with axes.

No, your particular diagnosis lies elsewhere. Yet still, my extensive training in the world of the mind and the many ways in which the brain can twist off into surprising roads of discovery leads me to believe that there is something behind the names of the cities you selected. Let’s go there, even if it proves fruitless, and I end up charging you for another session. (Somebody has to pay for the new linoleum in the remodeled break room in our suite of offices.) To wit, your cities:

Boston. Have you ever been there? It’s quite surprising. My first exposure to one of our founding cities occurred in the month of July. Such a time of year is excruciating in the place where I currently live, a little burgh by the name of Dallas. The word “steamy” does not even approach reality, with sweat getting into crevices you never knew you had. Things melt, and tempers flare. (You NEVER want to question the roadway decisions of your fellow citizens. This can result in rude gestures and the use of concealed handguns.)

But I never imagined that Boston could have the same July climate. It’s so far north, I just assumed that the igloos did not melt. Yet indeed they do, with a vengeance that is startling. I was quite amazed to learn that the fresh seafood in the fish market would grill itself as you stood there and perused the options.

And this thing with the pennies on the graves in that one cemetery. I tried to read the historical marker that explained the copper abundance, but I couldn’t keep the sweat out of my eyes long enough to learn the tale. Complicating all this was the horde of belligerent tourists who did not appreciate my non-movement and blindness. They were hurling pennies like The Rapture was around the corner.

But around that corner was the Parker House Hotel, where they make those rolls that apparently cause certain people to change their entire way of life so that they can consume these things on a regular basis. I failed to see what the fuss was all about, mainly because said hotel was very pricey and I couldn’t even afford the appetizers, let alone an entrée featuring the famous bread. Northerners apparently make more money than Southerners. Didn’t we end that pesky war? Poor Scarlet, she rolled around in that turnip field, getting mud on her couture and vowing never to be hungry again, but I’m assuming she wasn’t clutching a menu from the Parker House Hotel.

Finally, did they ever end that mess with the Big Dig? The massive roadwork project where they were building an underground tunnel to China or some such? I understand the need to garner support for the usage of tax-payer dollars. But really, the billboards and the campaign buttons? It’s a road, not the Stairway to Heaven. Especially if you’re just a visitor trying to find the North Church without getting re-routed to Detroit. And it’s a little unsettling to realize that the earth is being moved under my feet.

Speaking of, let’s move on to San Francisco, where I understand that you’ve spent some time whilst trying to keep your sanity and a firm grip on the things that are really important. Therefore, I really shouldn’t pontificate too much and risk corrective commentary, other than to share a formative experience I had whilst a youngster still finding my way.

In the mid-70’s, my mother and her best friend dragged their four collective offspring to this city by the bay. I was much too young to fully comprehend all that we saw, but I do recall seeing men holding hands, and homegrown newspapers seeking rights for people who just wanted to love as they wished. I was in awe, feeling tiny tendrils of validation for my burgeoning awareness of who I might be, but still scared. The rest of the country did not share this vision, or so it seemed to my naïve young mind. Soon I would be back in a land of closed minds and pain. But briefly, I yearned. Hope springs eternal.

Okay, I do recall a few other things. The hills, of course, because how could you miss THOSE? The trolley cars, which are enjoyable until someone’s posterior is shoved in your face while they are pointing out Coit Tower. Or some stranger requests that you take photos of them and their unruly brood as the Gap-clad little hellions swing on poles and wave. I don’t WANT to take pictures of other people. If I did, I would have gone to a different school, training to be a clerk at the DMV or perhaps a processing agent at the police station.

Oh, and the exquisite chocolate from that Italian-sounding place, and all of that business with the Wharf. The rows of houses, with the character of another time, standing proudly after so many years, despite the Starbucks on the corner and everyone muttering into little handheld things of metal and glass. And the people. The wild mix of people.

And finally, we have Dallas on your short list of proper names for residents. There are many ways I could go with my commentary on the local inhabitants. But really, this should be saved for another time. The nexus is you, and how I can assist. Despite my rhetoric, despite my fun with snarkiness and twisted interpretations, there are times when all this falls by the wayside, and you get real.

Searching for an answer that actually means something, I did let a bit of the whimsy back in. The first letter of your three cities is B-S-D. But I’m going to assume that you put a challenge in there, and that I should reverse the order. D-S-B. I only know of your personal situation peripherally, limited detail, but I hope this helps with your journey. DSB = Don’t Stop Believing. Don’t. In whatever your belief and hopes may be.

Best of luck, Laura, spelled correctly, and there really won’t be any paperwork in the mail about the name change. Unless my assistant Lanae has been especially productive, though I seriously doubt that she has. I’ve been waiting for her to change the paper in the copy machine since 1987.

As for the rest of you fine folks, who are used to sarcasm until the end, it’s not going to happen this time. A rare moment of heart, and some time to reflect. Think of the people you love. Tell them that. Again and again. And then maybe one more time. Then go take a walk, somewhere quiet where you can prioritize and breathe. Well, maybe skip the walking bit for now, considering the heat out there and the potential for sweaty crevices. But keep the breathing. And the realization of what’s really important…

Peace In,

Dr. Brian

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