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

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