Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Case Study #33

Dear Dr. Brian,

I know you are very busy and are working with people who are much more disturbed than I am, but I was hoping you could find the time to help me with something I find troubling. My co-workers insist on calling me “Eeyore” all the time, and I don’t know why. I try not to let it bother me, but it does, and I cry a lot when they aren’t looking. I don’t like to cry because it makes me puffy. Please help.

Confused and sad,

Swisstine Chapel

Dripping Springs, TX

Dear Person, Place or Thing,

I must say that I myself am confused, not about your apparently painful nickname, we’ll get to that in a minute, but by the manner in which you closed your email. Are you living in an apparent place of worship, or is “Swisstine Chapel” your actual name? If you have indeed gone through life with such an architectural appellation, I suspect that you have always had identity issues and that your current co-workers are not entirely responsible for your hidden tears.

Nevertheless, I shall try to assist, despite my relative ignorance of your individual circumstances. Since you are a new patient, and the records indicate that you have only made one payment, I can only make a minimal diagnosis at this time. (Translation: I am not yet monetarily invested in your troubled psyche. Once the payments become regular, we will grow much closer and I may start to actually have measurable interest in your well-being.)

Since we’re on the financial angle, I should also point out that you made that first payment using a personal check. While this is indeed a perfectly legal transaction, I should mention that Lanae, my personal assistant and office manager, does not really care for personal checks. Such things require that she fill out deposit slips, and Lanae greatly abhors doing so. (Suffice it to say there was a past relationship with a banking employee that went terribly awry, and restraining orders became necessary.)

Lanae much prefers sliding a bit of plastic across a scanner and then handing it back to you, transaction complete, no running about with zippered bags of checks and then standing in line at those horrid financial institutions where they charge you outrageous fees for things like actually speaking to a teller or using a pen that is not your own. So if you have any intention of developing a healthy relationship with Lanae, I’d suggest you leave the checkbook at home, even if you find the Garfield-themed checks to be greatly amusing. After all, Lanae controls the donut supply, and that’s the real source of power in this establishment.

Back to your missive, where you have been branded, so to speak, with an animal-like moniker due to unexplained actions and/or crimes. Since I am not privy to what you may or may not have done to incite these people to an agitated level of name-calling, I can only make my diagnosis based on the name itself, “Eeyore”, and the visions that fill my complex head upon reading this word.

If memory serves, Eeyore was a character in those Winnie the Pooh books of childhood. I should caution you that I did make a valiant attempt as a child to usurp at least minimal pleasure from the series, as many of my acquaintances at the time were in rapturous swoons over the volumes. I forced myself to read them all, dissatisfied and disturbed the entire time, and once I finished the final chapter I tossed the entire lot into the incinerator, much to the chagrin of one of my sisters (I forget which, there were so many of them and they stupidly chose to dress alike) who had been waiting patiently her own turn with Winnie. I calmly explained to her that the exercise would be pointless, but she cried anyway and reported me to the parental authorities.

But I do believe I still retain the basic details concerning the adventures of Winnie and Eeyore and all the other whimsical characters that inhabited Hundred Canker Wood, or whatever they called that bit of forest where animals could talk and have over-inflated issues that could be resolved with simply saying things that rhymed. Perhaps I should briefly review my memories, searching for clues that may assist in my educated evaluation of why people may choose to taunt you in such a mystifying manner.

There was that Winnie creature, with his insatiable lust for fresh honey leading to predicaments of one nature or another, usually requiring intervention from others who had been less careless. I remember being very disturbed that, at least according to the illustrations, Winnie apparently had no need for pants or undergarments. He did have a shirt, but that was simply not enough coverage in my mind and the damage was done.

We had a tiger character, who was clearly manic-depressive, probably because his parents had been so disinterested in his birth that when it came time to select a name for their offspring, they simply took the name of their species, threw in an extra “g”, and called it good. Thus they created a monster who would do anything to garner attention in social situations, mistaking the applause as a misconstrued replacement for the love he never got as a child.

Of course, this Tigger animal had an annoying habit of bouncing about on his tail. I failed to see the slightest appeal in this ability, but scores of other children marveled at this means of transport and strove to duplicate the action. Needless to say, emergency room visits were soon necessary, with howling youngsters bent over examining tables whilst anxious parents and increasingly-disgruntled doctors milled about the exposed tender buttocks, stitching up the damage and offering rewards of ice cream if the little urchin would just stop screaming.

There was the pint-sized character, a smidge of an animal that went by the name of Figlet or Wiglet, some such. I don’t recall his particular skill set, other than the ability to wear a striped shirt all the time. I have a vague memory that Giblet was getting lost all the time, or perhaps facing life-threatening situations that were the direct result of his clothing choices and his tiny stature. (Although the same could probably be said of Paula Abdul, I’m sure.)

And the human boy, what was his name? Christopher Robin? Did the illustrator really intend for him to look like a young drag queen? At least they bothered to cover his nether region with clothing, but was it necessary that they do so with what looked like training pants? The little buckled shoes, the clutching of pretty balloons, the incessant need to lead parades of singing animals all over the forest paths. This boy was just not destined for a heterosexual lifestyle.

There were other animals, to be sure, but I just glanced at the clock and realized that it’s almost time for my monthly wax-and-rip at Keiko’s House of Slickness. Therefore, let’s move right along to your specific character, that of Eeyore. As expected, most people who view this donkey for the first time are alarmed by the fact that his tail has been nailed on to his hindquarters. It doesn’t seem possible that this could have been a pleasurable experience.

However, I’m assuming that this bit of business does not apply to your particular situation, Swisstine. I’m surmising that you do not have any appendages that have been nailed back on, or you would have mentioned this in your submission. Because if you DID have broken body parts that have been repurposed, then surely you would have the wherewithal to figure out the “Eeyore” angle, even if you do work for a mega-corporation that strives to numb its employees with repetitive, menial tasks that slowly drain your life force down to a dried husk of nothingness.

Of course, it’s possible that you may have really large ears, but one would think the go-to Disney character for that condition would be Dumbo. I’m also going to assume that you don’t wear pink bows in your tail, since pink is not your color and you most likely don’t have a tail. Now, there is the possibility that you shamble when you walk, moving lethargically and waiting for devastation and destruction to befall you.


In fact, I believe I’ve finally hit the mark here, despite my basic unconcern and general disdain for spending any quality time with a patient until their fees have paid for at least one piece of furniture in my tastefully-appointed abode. It’s not your physical structure, per se, that has resulted in workplace heathens taunting you with derogatory slurs. It is actually, I’m afraid, your demeanor and attitude that the world is a dark place and there will never be light in your life again.

Despite the highly-probable statistic that your global assessment is spot on, you really can’t let this affect your daily functioning. Your co-workers have not yet reached the point where they simply assume that anything that happens in their lives is a sure sign of the apocalypse. They don’t need to watch as your sour expressions turn your face into a mask of despair and angst, or to come back from break and find you writhing on the floor because one page of your job aid has a smudge on it and now you have to print the whole damn thing all over again.

With all due respect, Swisstine, you really need to relax. Try not to spend your time looking for the one tiny thread of something that might possibly go wrong, and then raising that thread high and wailing for redemption and savior. Yes, the world might end tomorrow. Let’s worry about it then, shall we?

If all else fails, somewhere in the office I have a gross of bull tranquilizers left over from our ill-advised attempt to provide group counseling to some agitated cattle at the Forth Worth Stockyards demanding that bowls of green M&M’s be placed in each stall. I’m sure Lanae, who has a special fondness for beastly creatures, knows where the shots are located and can provide them to you. For a small fee, of course.

And if you happen to run into that Christopher Robin in the future, tell him to butch it up, will you? Thanks.

Best of luck,

Dr. Brian

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Case Study #32

Dear fervent followers of this online repository for the treatment of the twisted and needy,

I must once again convey my utter dismay at what would seem to be my lack of interest in keeping you breathlessly updated with the goings on at our fine medical establishment. It appears that it has been over a month since my last submission, which would normally send any reader into a tizzy requiring medicinal assistance, but in my defense I must posit a few delimiting factors.

Firstly, as many of you are aware and have kindly sent sympathy cards concerning, there is still this tawdry mess surrounding my ongoing legal situation in Paris. Things there have become entirely complicated, especially since the goat has chosen to go with a new legal team, headed by the illustrious but slightly vicious Lisa Wines who will stop at nothing to ensure her clients receive daily treats of the gourmet variety, lots of grass to run about on, and healthy retirement funds. We are working with Miss Wines, and shall keep you posted, gag orders permitting.

Secondly, I have been stewing over a patient submission that has caused me some alarm, mainly in the fretting about how to properly respond. You see, as most of my patients realize, when I respond to the critical needs of my acolytes, I generally heap generous amounts of lightness and folly on my words, thereby allowing the bitterness of my actual advice to be less unpleasant. However, I occasionally receive emails wherein it’s not clear if the sender is “in on the game”, so to speak. This latest missive falls into that category.

As you can see by the sad tale presented below, this person has been suffering miserably, encountering maltreatment, disregard, and, worst of all, non-validation. It is quite daunting. Only toward the end is there a bit of fun, but by then my tears were many. How, exactly, does one respond to this without causing further harm and the lessening of kinship among the family of man? Quite a quandary.

So I kept pushing the email aside, procrastinating with practiced ease, until my faithful assistant, Lanae, grew tired of having to dust around the neglected printout whilst she tidied my office nightly. Snatching up the paper, she thrust it into my startled face, and proffered her ultimatum: “Answer this, NOW, or I will never bring sushi into this office again!”

I trembled in fear, and then booted up my netbook.

Herewith, the original submission:


Dr. Brian,

I feel a little strange writing to you about a problem that is actually
true and I'm not trying to be funny. But I could see where it might seem
funny to other people. Here goes:

I retired from the Postal Service about 8 months ago, after working there for 24 1/2 years. During that time I got a work related injury which causes the post office to treat you worse and try to make you quit or wish you were dead. But no matter what they did to me or where they sent me, I'd always end up back up with the position and the supervisor I'd begun with (who by the way always seemed to hate me but I'm not sure why.) This was not my choice by the way.

Well, to get to the point--when it came time to retire I was working two different positions at two different post offices (1/2 day at each place) and one of the places was the position with the supervisor who didn't like me. On my last day with the good old U.S.P.S., neither place gave me a retirement party. Even the stupid little plaque everybody has given to them by the postmaster on their last day--my evil supervisor MAILED to me, instead of having the postmaster give it to me. They had a big party for another lady that retired on the same day, but didn't include me in on it. Some people signed a card and one lady bought me a little gift. That was it. I was pissed but I tried to put it behind me because well I didn't have to go back there any more and that was worth it. Right?

Well recently I've started having bad dreams about the whole thing. Weird things happen in these dreams. Last night the evil supervisor finds out I'm upset about the lack of a retirement party, and buys everyone at the workplace Happy Meals and says this is my party. I tried to eat the hamburger in the dream but it made me feel sick and I couldn't finish it. I left feeling just as bad about the whole thing as I ever had.

What do you suggest I do to get over this? It's not the party 'per se' I'm mad about, it's the obvious slap in the face...

Hatin' the P.O.


And thusly, my response, because the thought of never receiving hand-carried sushi again is something that I just can’t live with:

Dear Hatin’,

Well, now. After careful analysis, I feel I must get right to the point. It seems that the reason you have endured such outrageous behavior on the part of your former co-workers and management staff is simply this: You are actually the last surviving member of the royal family of Crustalina, a tiny but immensely wealthy nation where there is lots of sunshine and everyone keeps their yards very tidy.

Due to a murky political situation that took place many years ago, you were sent to live in obscurity until those responsible for the murkiness could be located and deported, making the streets safe once again. For your own safety, you were not informed of your illustrious lineage. However, word eventually got out, as it always does, resulting in the abusive and neglectful actions on the part of your fellow postal people: They were simply insanely jealous of the fact that you would one day get to wear diamond-drenched crowns and participate in festive pageants where people get to toss fruit about.

Now, I’m sure you are tempted to look askance at my interpretation of your plight, which is quite understandable, so let me show you in greater detail how I came to this conclusion. We shall closely examine your own words, and I will then translate.

after working there for 24 1/2 years”

This time frame, believe it or not, is an exact duration referred to in your exile papers from long ago. It seems that you must toil this length of time in an atrocious working environment, so that you can better understand the plight of the common people. This was one of the demands of the “murky people”. (They also fought to have your diet consist solely of papayas, but this requirement was tossed aside as simply preposterous and boring.)

I got a work related injury which causes the post office to treat you worse and try to make you quit or wish you were dead.”

This was another conditional demand from the murky people. How could you, as supreme ruler of the entire land, understand the proper way to build charitable hospitals if you had never lived in one, however briefly, and had to consume tasteless, institutional pudding while people prodded you with things? Ergo, the physical trauma and endless hours of boredom while various body parts were urged to recover.

This was not my choice by the way.”

Of course it wasn’t, this much is clear. The murky people are just mean and demanding. There’s no getting around it.

neither place gave me a retirement party.”

How could they even begin to dream of coming up with an adequate celebration, knowing that you would soon be in your palace, where even a simple event like afternoon tea would greatly outshine any festivities your close-minded heathen co-workers could plan? So instead, they all went bowling, where you have to shove your feet in shoes where so many other feet have been, making you uncomfortable with this unsanitary thought regardless of the beer intake.

Even the stupid little plaque.”

It IS a stupid little plaque. You have statues in your honor back in Crustalina. A measly wooden board pales in comparison.

one lady bought me a little gift”

This person is actually in the employ of the government you will soon rule, having been sent into exile with you to keep an eye on things. The gift was a subtle acknowledgement of your royalty. Be sure to reward this person with land and livestock when you return home.

Weird things happen in these dreams.”

This is why I have a thriving medical practice. If people didn’t have odd nocturnal visitations, half my clients would be well-adjusted and not sending me monthly checks.

I tried to eat the hamburger in the dream but it made me feel sick”

It’s because the people of Crustalina are vegetarians. (Okay, there’s some seafood consumed from time to time, as such things can’t be avoided when you live in an island nation, but all the travel brochures say “meatless”, so we’ll go with that.)

the obvious slap in the face”

Trouble yourself notly about the slappage. All of your travails are about to become pointless, as there will soon be a knock on the door, and a royal page will present you with a proclamation that all stipulations of your exile have been met, and the people of Crustalina are lining the streets, awaiting your glorious return.

Until then, comfort yourself with this: Once back on the throne, with all the resources of the land at your disposal, you can then exact revenge on those who chose to act unkindly in your past. After all, with a quarter century spent in the postal service, I’m sure you can deliver just the right package to settle the score…


Dr. Brian