“I’m sorry if I seem a little preoccupied today, Zhayden is getting his academic aptitude test results back today and it’s really important to both of us that he gets into a good academy. Zhaden, you look a little warm buddy, you want me to unzip you?”
Zhaden, which she pronounced “Jayden”, was the Pomeranian sitting in her lap. This was my last appointment of the day and I was trying my best to focus on ways to engage my client’s better judgment in the pursuit of her mental health and daily functioning, and not of the bottle of bourbon in my lower desk drawer. Knob Creek, very smooth with just the right amount of heat. Dammit, focus.
“Katheryn, I’m concerned that these ‘puppy academy’ folks are taking advantage of your vulnerability. No amount of dog training is worth what they’re charging. Do you remember how you fell for the Puppy Sports leagues? Most of those people are in jail now.”
A darkness passed over her face so quickly that I almost didn’t catch it. A microexpression of absolute terror. Immediately she painted a smile over it.
“I know, right? Zhaden hated chasing that ball around almost as much as he hated the diet. Gluten-free was such a fad.” She forced out a laugh. “Zhaden, I almost forgot, I’m gonna unzip you, is that better?” The Pomeranian did not seem to notice the small degree of freedom from his performance fleece, but instead continued trembling like all those little purse dogs do. His eyes never seemed to focus on anything, like a baby’s. I can’t tell if they mirror the mental illnesses of their owners, or if they’re just born that way, or what.
I paused. Katheryn also looked a great deal like a baby, with her wide eyes, flabby cheeks, and squished-up face. Her infantile mind left her wide open to the flourishing fraudsters who predated upon the mentally ill which, according to a recent study, now included 86 percent of white American women. If such a thing as human spirit exists, the trauma of losing the child had clearly broken hers. But I suppose her trauma couldn’t compare to that which her child had experienced in the six months between the kidnapping and eventually succumbing to her injuries.
Only seven years old. I decided it was time for the bourbon.
“Why don’t we call it a day? I’m sure Zhayden is very excited to get his results.”
She agreed (happily?) and fussed over the Pomeranian for a minute on the way out the door. He trotted out the door with his performance fleece askew, which inexplicably filled me with disgust and revulsion. I waited until hearing the doorbell, indicating Katheryn was safely in the strip mall’s parking lot, before quickly knocking back a shot of the Knob Creek. To this day I don’t even remember doing it, not even the burn. But I saw the glass was wet and the aftertaste was in my mouth.
I calmed myself and poured two fingers into the glass, taking only a small sip this time. The court had ordered the assailant to attend therapy sessions as well, in prison. Actually wait, he was on parole by now. Violent ideation flashed through my mind, which I chalked up to fatigue, convincing me once more that policy makers had been wise to mass produce restraining orders for all parties involved in violent criminal cases. The problem with society, they said, is that there are too many moving parts.
I took another sip, then pulled out my checkbook on a whim. Payable to the account of Raymond Schiffler, $100. Less than the insurance premium for Katheryn’s weekly half-hour sessions. I pulled up Microsoft Word 2020 and began drafting a letter.
I hereby concede our little wager on the question of evolutionary psychology and the sexual impulse, even though according to our terms I have not yet strictly lost. But I am not quite foolish enough to need a study to tell me what my eyes can see well enough. It is obvious that we will have no predictive general theory of sociosexual diversity by the end of the decade.
Though lacking specifics, we in the scientific community understand that the sexual appetite may be fully explained as necessary to the continued vitality of the animal races. However, the infinitely diverse epicycles of this mechanism (which you describe as “mental illnesses” in flagrant disregard of social progress) elude our best efforts to square the circle. The recent, shocking revelation that geneticists will never be able to predict homosexuality with greater than 30% success (that it is not merely implausible, but a statistical fact of the genome) serves to illustrate this failure.
I also concede your point that unusual sexual activities are “perversions” in the most technical sense of the word, though I still ask you to refrain from using such language when “epicycles” communicates the meaning just as well without alienating your religious institution from the modern scientific literature.
Dr. James Hummel
Microsoft Word suddenly crashed, and it took half a minute to reboot the computer and restore the draft from the solid-state drive. Seizing the opportunity, I quaffed the last mouthful of bourbon. My nervous anxiety had abated by now, but my stomach was still unsettled. It was an awkward contrast of sensations. Fraud. No, it was from drinking without eating. I decided against a third glass. Impulsively, I added a postscript.
P.S. It is a mystery to me how you regularly win our bets regarding esoteric matters of the mind, yet science has repeatedly failed to observe any effect at all of faith and prayer except on the well-being of the believer. Perhaps our next bet should concern the paradox of the “is/ought” dichotomy, which our most recent conversation did not resolve to my satisfaction.
I printed the letter, dressed the envelope, and tucked it into my jacked. Then I called my wife. “Honey, I’m in the mood for bad food tonight. Meet me at Granite City? Good, I’ll order us a couple beers.”