Please place a “1” before any of the following statements that cause an improvement in your mood:

_ We all have problems.
_ It could always be worse.
_ Everyone feels that way.
_ This, too, shall pass.

Now, add your scores.

Despite my lack of psychic abilities, I predict you scored zero. Therefore, you’re probably considering paying a visit to a psychiatrist. Guess what? You’re right: Paying is one thing you’ll definitely be doing, and plenty of it. Meanwhile, you imagine being treated by a person who practices what Merriam-Webster calls “a branch of medicine that deals with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders,” a/k/a psychiatry. It sounds like some kind of love. It sounds astonishing. It sounds like it’ll take your breath away… and it just might!

But before the breaking of your brain’s hymen, remember that, in layman’s terms, once fucked by a psychiatrist, your mind will never be a virgin again. Therefore, aim for abstinence, the only form of mind control that’s 100% effective in preventing brain impregnation by drugs for which the average psychiatrist has never bothered reading the manufacturer’s prescribing instructions, much less the truth.

We understand you may have passed the point of caring. For whatever reason, you’re determined to sacrifice your virginity. You’re only human.  So, assuming that you’ll act upon this decision, you shall now be guided through the process of brain impregnation and, we hope, avoid getting pregnant upside-down.

First, let’s get real. Psychiatry is only rarely practiced in the United States. The goal proved too difficult and the profit margin too slim for almost anyone to bother trying. Psychiatry was abandoned for easily-attainable and profitable goals, that being guesswork, drug dice throwing, abject apathy, and, of course, check cashing. Derived from Freud’s daughter Anna, this brand of malpractice is unknown as capitalanalysis. This has never been disclosed, and no one will admit it, yet capitalanalysis has been and remains the almost-ubiquitous form of “mental health care.” They even still call it psychiatry! But it’s still capitalanalysis, and the only things analyzed are the degree to which any psychiatrist is not a doctor and the degree to which any psychiatrist is not a psychiatrist. A minus sign precedes almost all such ratings.

You shall now be walked through your first visit to Johnny the capitalanalysist. You’ve come this far, and you might as well come all the way. However, surrendering your virginity need not equate the surrendering of your self-authority. Tell yourself, “If you’re going to stick it to me, buster, you’d better treat me real good.”

So let’s begin with the proper greeting. Upon entering the capitalanalysist’s office, which capitalanalysists call “the brain’s bedroom,” immediately shout, “Where’s the mustache, Adolf?” Now you’ve told Johnny, “I know the facts, Jack:” Exactly what do you know? That you’ve accepted the risk of entering the bedroom of a “medical field” born in Nazi “medicine.”

Next, while being “evaluated,” you must evaluate the psychiatrist. The latter carries all the weight, while the former bears none. The purpose of this process can be easily remembered by the acronym ASIF (Avoid Sadistic Ignorant Fascists). The odds of your accomplishing this task have been estimated in Vegas as approximately 1 in 9,234. Whether you ever accomplish that mission depends on how much money you can blow. Capitalanalysis entails the fact that only the wealthy can afford psychiatry-psychiatry, not psychiatry. Don’t try to keep this straight in your head; it’s crooked on purpose.

As the evaluation continues, interrupt one of the “doctor’s” boilerplate questions and state, “Just to be clear, I’m employing you, not the other way around.” You’re the authority figure. You take charge even in the capitalanalysist’s own bedroom. After all, it’s your virginity on the grill.

Soon, you’ll be diagnosed. You may or may not be told your diagnosis. The diagnosis is the capitalanalsyst’s theory. From this point forward, the capitalanalsyst’s sole concern is proving his theory correct. No capitalanalsyst can feel what you feel, nor would any capitalanalsyst care. Your treatment is entirely designed to prove the capitalanalsyst’s theory, and you will be blamed if you fail to assist in proving that theory. The theory is never wrong; you’re wrong. Otherwise, the insurance companies might cost Johnny his virginity in the last place he wants to lose it.

Or so you’re told. Demand your diagnosis. Johnny might refuse. He cares even less than the average capitalanalysist, if that’s possible. Are you going to stand for this from the first Johnny who fingers your frontal lobe? Of course not. Repeat your demand for the diagnosis. When Johnny finally belches the diagnosis and code, and no matter how accurate the diagnosis may seem, say, “Bullshit!” If Johnny runs, he doesn’t even care enough to despise you for stopping him at third base. Congratulations: You’ve terminated your first capitalanalsyst, and you’re still a virgin. It’s too late to abort the capitalanalsyst, but at least you won’t have to terminate Johnny again.

If Johnny doesn’t run, he will produce his prescription pad as if it’s a magician’s rabbit. Where was it? On the desk the whole time; you’ve been duped by Johnny again. Didn’t you know Johnny slips everybody mickeys?

Stop!  Pause and refresh your memory. What was that diagnosis, again? Oh, yes. Odds are it was bipolar disorder. That’s because almost no other disorder “requires” so many drugs as bipolar disorder, making it a very appetizing theory indeed for capitalanalsysts. In fact, it’s their favorite excuse for cocktail hour, but you’ll be the only one swallowing anything. Get used to it. You may swallow a hundred different cocktails and never get to where you planned. Don’t worry: You can’t get your brain pregnant by swallowing, silly!

More than likely, you’ve been misdiagnosed. You’ll notice this after two years of a depression six feet deep: You might as well be dead. Hopefully, just in the nick of time, you’ll finally figure out what’s been making you “sane” made you disappear! Now you’re Johnny’s rabbit, and you’re all but pulling tricks unless you confront that dirty rotten son of bitch. You tell Johnny, “You’re not getting to home plate with me! And use your fingers on yourself, fuckface.”

Yes, even after all this time, your brain is still a virgin no matter how many time’s it’s been fingered. By now, you’ve probably figured something else out, too: You weren’t bipolar, just anxious. But you have to prove it to a capitalanalsyst, and words won’t do the trick. You wanted it, so get naked. Act exactly the way you feel. You might consider smashing the capitalanalsyst’s degree over his head. Don’t fret: That won’t hurt any capitalanalsyst. There’s nothing in their heads!

Learned your lesson yet? Rather than giving it up to any old Johnny who calls himself a doctor when he isn’t a doctor any more than he’s an Olympic athlete, keep that abstinence until you can’t stand it any longer. Your brain deserves love, not just a lousy lay Johnny will give anybody in town who calls him “Doctor.”

Finally, whatever you do, keep your eye on those mickeys. Some are worse than heroin, but don’t expect a capitalanalsyst to tell you that! With the best mickey he can give in his self-interest and the worst you can take in your self-interest, a capitalanalsyst supports whole industries, from drug manufacturers to rehabilitation centers.

Have you learned your lesson? Abstinence first! And even then, swallowing might catch you a virus they call addiction. We call it capitalanalysis, and we don’t take dick from Johnny!

Southwest Florida, 1976: at sixteen Kathy and I are not quite there. We are half girl and half woman. Our knees still bear the shadows of scrapes from roller skating falls while our hips and breasts swell and curve beneath our batik cotton sundresses. We kiss boys with skin as hot as toast, their tangles of sun-bleached hair longer than ours, whose surfboards hang out the back of their dented el Camino’s and who want more than we are ready to give.

When we aren’t at the beach after school we are at Kathy’s house where our time is not governed by parental law. Kathy’s mother left when she was five. She lives with her father and an older brother who returned from Vietnam to sit in a green webbed lawn chair in the middle of their backyard where nothing but scrub pine grows gnarled and deformed in a sandy soil of crushed shells. His chair faces away from the house and ringed around the base are empty cans of beer. When he first came home his head was shaved but it has grown back into long dark ringlets. He looks like Jim Morrison from the Doors and I tell Kathy this but she frowns and tells me she doesn’t see this even though I know she does. The only time he leaves the chair is to go to the 7-Eleven at the end of the block to purchase more beer. If you didn’t know that fact you could easily imagine the beer magically replenished itself.

For a while his high school girlfriend, (who he had promised to marry before he enlisted), came over in the afternoons. We hear them fighting and then having sex until they scream or cry or both. The roar of their pain crowds the narrow hallway of Kathy’s house that leads to the chain of bedrooms occupied by Kathy, her father and her brother. Their cries are like a fire given oxygen: his deep and guttural and hers high and reedy. They cut through The Stones You Can’t Always Get What You Want and force us out of Kathy’s room to the galley kitchen where we sit on opposite kitchen counters and eat Skippy out of the jar, (an anomaly for me since my mother insists on the peanut butter from the health food store that tastes like sticky dust, but Kathy shops for her family and so the choice is hers) the room is so narrow we can stretch our legs all the way out and rest our bare feet on the opposite counter.

When Kathy’s brother left for Vietnam he gave her his record collection. We worked our way into an appreciation of the Doors, Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, and the Rolling Stones. With the music playing we closet ourselves in Kathy’s room where she has lined the walls with Indian tapestries from World Bazaar and burns sandpapery cones of incense and we talk about how far we might let the surfer boys go, not as far as they want, but we want, oh how we want, and how that wanting is in danger of unraveling.

One afternoon her brother’s girlfriend walks into the kitchen for a glass of water and tells Kathy loving her brother is like fucking a ghost before she drops the glass onto the plastic sink mat and walks out the door. Instead of leaving she sits in her car on the street parked next to the mailbox. We know she is waiting for him to come out but when an hour passes and his bedroom door is still closed, she leaves.

The first phone call comes on a rainy afternoon. We are sitting on the carport, waiting out the storm, talking about the waves, about who might be surfing, about the possibility of thunder and lightening and riding our bikes in a storm to the beach. We dash out into the yard and hold our faces and arms up to the rain. We spin in circles like children yet our bodies ache for something else, for something more, to go back but at the same time to go forward. My skin, the hair on my arms, the blood coursing through my veins: everything quivers from the power of wanting.

We are soaked, my patchwork skirt clings to my legs, and my bikini top is visible through my t-shirt as Kathy runs to answer the phone. I see her through the window twirling the long black floppy cord stretched out now from years of pulling it down the hallway to her room. Her face is dark and then light, the fingers of her other hand flutter around her breasts, holding the thin wet material of her tank top away from her body. I press my face to the sliding glass door and she motions me forward, holds the phone out to me and opens her mouth as if in shock or surprise.

When I get there she presses the phone to my ear, I smell her musky shampoo on the receiver, I hear the sharp intake of breath on the line, a low moan, like the sounds Kathy’s brother makes when he is having sex with his high school girlfriend.

What are you wearing? The voice rasps. Are you all wet?

Who the fuck is this? I ask.

Kathy leans closer and tilts the phone so we both can hear. The guy moans again.

Fuck off, I shout and push the phone out of Kathy’s hand. It dangles a moment on the long loopy cord before it smashes against the table and we laugh out of nerves and fear and excitement. We are standing there like that when we notice her brother walking up the driveway with a six-pack. He is shirtless and shoe-less and his chest looks remarkably like those of the surfer boys we like to kiss. He disappears around the house and reappears in his lawn chair. It doesn’t matter that it is raining. He settles himself and the beer in his usual position.

After that first afternoon there is a pattern to the calls. A half an hour after we get in the door from school the phone rings. The caller asks what we are wearing. He tells us what he will do for us. He tells us things that we have to guess at their meaning, he tells us what we can do for him. There is a lot of heavy breathing on his part. We are scared and thrilled by the game because we are newly sixteen and virgins and the idea of sex is ever present. We lay on the floor in Kathy’s room shoulder to shoulder with our feet pressed against the door in case anyone tries to come in, the cord squeezed between the frame and the latch. The calls last no longer than ten minutes and after my nerves jangle, my legs feel like rubber, and in my chest nests an apex of anxiety. After several calls Kathy acts funny and says she wants to be alone. As I leave, her brother twists around in his lawn chair and stares as I take my bike from the crumbling concrete slab. I wave, but he turns back around before my hand is even in front of my face.

One day I ride my bike to the beach after leaving Kathy’s house. I find Daryl, the sweetest of the surfers, the one that I have the deepest crush. His mother is a teller at the bank where my parents have an account. He tosses my bike in the back of his car along with his surfboard and we go to the apartment he shares with his mother and he shows me his room with the surfing posters and the blue plaid bedspread. He kisses me and opens a beer and takes a sip and hands it to me and I do the same. We kiss again and our teeth are cold when they accidentally hit. We laugh and readjust positions and when Daryl tries to kiss his way down my neck I start to cry. Embarrassed I make my way to the door. Daryl jogs after me outside and says: Hey, I like you. Did I do something wrong? I can’t even look at him as he lifts my bike out of the back of his car and holds it steady until I get on.

I pass the 7-Eleven and notice Kathy’s brother outside the store. He is leaning against the glass, and his eyes are closed. He lazily strokes the skin below his belly button with his fingertips and my stomach squeezes and then as if he senses someone watching him his eyelids flutter open and he disappears inside the store. Through the glass I see him remove a six-pack of beer from the cooler and put the money on the counter. I pedal fast to beat him to his house and when I get there I follow the phone cord down the hall to Kathy’s room. I press on the door with my full weight but it doesn’t budge. Kathy, I whisper, let me in. When she doesn’t answer I push harder and say her name louder. Again, there is nothing and I slump down on the floor to wait. It is crazy to feel jealousy but I do. The guy has chosen her. I try to think hard if she has better responses to his questions and I realize I am mostly mute, always listening, slightly embarrassed by the way my body is reacting to the sound of a stranger’s voice asking me the color of my underpants. It is Kathy who is always ready with an answer, Kathy who always seems to know the right thing to say and I wonder how she has gotten so far ahead of me when we started in the same place.

I get up to leave because no matter what my mother expects me home for dinner. I know what I will see before I get there. My father will have arrived home from work and taken a shower after a long hot day fixing pools. He will be on the carport having a drink while he pokes whatever is cooking on the grill while my brother runs soccer practice drills on the patch of adjacent grass calling out to my father over and over again: Are you watching? Dad, are you watching?

My father will look up at me and wink and the ice will rattle in his glass as he raises it to his lips. Nice to see you sis, he will say. How was your day?

I will drop the kickstand on my bike in the shade of the carport. I will allow him to tug on my ponytail as I pass although I will pretend to hate it and squirm away. I will enter the coolness of the laundry room, slip through the landing strip of a kitchen, and push wide the swinging doors into the dining room where the phone sits on a desk. I will lift the phone while my mother, still in her white uniform, asks me to please make the salad. I will dial Kathy’s number. I will hold my breath when I hear the busy signal. Before I put the phone back in the cradle I will whisper: light blue with lace, just to hear myself say it out loud and then gently, quietly, I will hang up the phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Nick Cave know about my love life?

I found out my wife was cheating on me. Not the greatest feeling in the world after a decade of marriage. I admit, there were times when I met another attractive woman and thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could just…but I put that thought right out of my mind and went home a committed guy.

Not that sex was the only thing to the petit mess that our marriage was. There was me, the writer, and what she thought the writing life style would bring her.

When we dated, I was the quirky artist guy. She thought listening to Nirvana made her alternative and Nora Roberts was literature. We’d go to my place and make out to Tom Waits on the turntable and I’d send her home with a Bukowski book. Did I mention we were Jehovah’s Witnesses? A woman who read anything other than a Watchtower publication was pretty alternative in my universe as a 25-year-old virgin. I was seen as quite a threat to the congregation elders for not keeping up in my bible reading and spending many nights at the public library reading Burroughs and educating myself in the world of literature. Unfortunately the belief system of God’s day of judgment entangled the synapse of my brain, so I had to keep my alternative reading and music cravings on the down low in those days.

A couple of years into our marriage I made a lot of money in the computer industry, which in turn paid to kickstart her career. I gave up the job early enough, before it sucked my soul, to pursue writing. The computer career only worked because I was smart and understood operating systems, not because I actually pursued it in school or anything. I had a tendency of disappearing from my cubicle for an hour reading Tolstoy in the bathroom or sneaking out to Gregg Araki’s latest film. I was excellent at my job at a hands on level, but not a corporate guy who really gave a crap about the future of Sun Microsystems.

In my ex-wife’s mind, my decision to become a writer meant that we would frolic with Danielle Steele at society events. I would make Stephen King caliber money and the film adaptations would pay for her shoe-buying habit. We’d both survive the upcoming apocalypse because I’d write under a pen name.

Let’s back up.

Our first date was a Nick Cave show…don’t tell the elders. There was a silence in the crowd when I yelled for Nick to play one of my favorite songs, Hard On For Love.

“What?” Nick turned around to our side of the stage and walked in our direction.

“Play Hard On For Love!”

“We have our set taken care of, thank you,” Nick replied and hearts spilled out of my eyes and onto the floor. Nick Cave was my favorite musician and I had just had a conversation with him.

From there:

  • Marriage. Sex. Wow, it’s warm in there.
  • I keep writing and taking the wife to see live bands. Don’t tell the elders.
  • I make more money than I ever make in my life and she spends it well.
  • I drop out of the religion, she freaks out and double times as a Jehovah’s Witness to get us both through Armageddon.
  • I go to Nick Cave shows alone.
  • She hides my “worldly” books and places Watchtowers on the table when her mom comes around.
  • I write a novel loosely based on my experience growing up a Jehovah’s Witness teenager. Scared that her gay fashion friends will find out she’s a JW she wanted me to use a pen name. Uh, no.
  • She cheats on me.
  • She repents to the congregation elders for her adultery. They understand. I was such a bad influence.
  • She does her best to take everything monetary.

After three months of grieving, utter shock, weeping in cafes while trying to write, and drinking myself into a stupor, I finally gave it a go with a girl in bed.

Wow, it’s warm in there.

Nick Cave was scheduled for two shows at the Warfield and they were in three months. I made calculations of the women I had been seeing, kissing, dating, and really enjoying. I picked a few to test and see if they were Nick-Cave-date-worthy. We would dance and sing up front and touch Nick’s hand as he’d sweat on us. Oh, the glory of all that is Nick Cave.

I scored an interview with Nick at his hotel since I’ve been a writer and covering the entertainment scene for years. Nick Cave. My favorite singer and me at his hotel.

I interviewed him over the phone before, but never in person. I didn’t tell him about my divorce. Or how I held a personal contest to win a date with me and go to a Nick Cave show. I did tell him I asked him to play Hard On For Love years before at one of his shows.

“What did I say?” Nick asked.

“Our set’s taken care of, thank you,” I replied, remembering every word, every smell of our history together. I told him I stopped yelling out songs at his other shows because I didn’t want to interrupt.

“We probably just didn’t know how to play it,” he said and told me how the version they had in their set for the tour is a lot harder than the recorded version.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds hadn’t played Hard On For Love at any show for twenty years. They wouldn’t play it when I was with my ex-wife, and it took him until 2008 to put it in his set.

None of the ladies were Nick-Cave-date-worthy. I went to the show alone. Dateless.

Inside the Warfield I saw some friends at the front of the stage and stood behind Lia, a girl I had been a friend with for a while. We danced and we sang and Nick Cave sweated on us.


Then, Nick said, “This next song is for you in the hat.” I was wearing a hat and he pointed in my direction in front of everybody at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. I pointed at myself and said, “Me?”

“Yeah, you with the facial condition,” referencing my bushy mustache.

The girls next to my friend in front of me yelled, “His name is Tony, His name is Tony.”  They didn’t know I interviewed him earlier and we talked about Hard On For Love, giving the illusion that Nick and I were really tight. The band went into the song and my friend Lia held my hand and everything flashed before my eyes.

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Marriage. Betrayal. Divorce.
  • The animal drive in my life that craves literature, music and film.
  • Holding hands with Lia. It’s not a date, but a great person to share the moment with.

Lia and I hung out a lot after that show. Still high on Nick Cave. Bar hopping and meeting up as buddies until one night it hits me…..there’s more to us than friends. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s strong and I wasn’t used to someone like her. I messed up our friendship, but she agreed to mess it up as well and now she’s my girlfriend.

I reflect on how Nick Cave wouldn’t play my request for Hard On For Love when I was with my ex-wife. How he never played it through my whole marriage. Then, when I’m there with the right girl…whom I didn’t even know was in the romantic running, let alone the perfect date for a Nick Cave show….then, not only does Nick Cave perform the song, he dedicates it to me.

I am the fiend hid in her skirt
And it’s as hot as hell in here
Coming at her as I am from above
Hard On For Love.

Hard On For Love performed in Croatia on YouTube