By the time we made it to the parking lot, we’d taken tentative strides toward sobriety. Winter in the past day had snuck up on us. I squinted into the sunlight, dagger sharp and empty of heat. A wicked wind made swirls and eddies of dust and cigarette butts. Oliver thrust his hands deeper into his pockets and bunched his shoulders, but his coat remained unzipped. He looked at me; his eyes, behind the formidable newscaster’s glasses, were tearing from the cold. A blast of wind made him nearly swallow his words. “Did I tell you that I was recently dumped by my therapist?”
I shook my head, suppressing a shiver.
“I started seeing him about two years ago, when Sophia and I got involved. He’s really an excellent therapist, smart and insightful, a dead ringer for Gene Wilder. But gradually he became so fed up with my endless frantic rehashing of the same problems, so dispirited by my compulsive tendency to seek advice which I then ignore or declare myself incapable of implementing, so perplexed by my penchant for self-examination without profitable end, and so alarmed by my inability or refusal to restrain my thoughts, which overheat and go nowhere, like
bats flapping around a closed attic, that he recently began a session with the simple declaration, ‘I don’t think I’m helping you. I don’t think I’m capable of helping you.’ He apologized and we shook hands; I even tried to cheer him up—he did as good as job as anybody could have…”
Oliver smiled wanly and pointed a single finger toward his temple, not pistol-like, but as one might to a curious artifact in a museum: “Sick.”