I seem to have started a therapist turf war. I’m in demand. I’m seeing a Therapist about a half an hour away in downtown Portland, but the local Therapist ain’t having that. Downtown Therapist has stepped on suburban Therapist’s patch, and it’s going to end only one way: in a violent and bloody shoot-out.

Or at least it would, if either of them knew the other existed. See, for a few weeks last month I was seeing two Therapists. This wasn’t planned – I’m not that messed up that I need a team of Therapists to fight my inner demons, like a nerdy croc-wearing version of Fathers Merrin andKarras. I just kind of got stuck with two Therapists. I was going to explain how this happened, but it’s quite a boring story involving the kind of clumsy, disjointed social awkwardness you only see from people with deep-set, OCD veterans, such as yours truly.

Long story short, I ditched local, suburban Therapist because, while he was professional, and clinical, and understanding, I didn’t really connect with him like I did with downtown Therapist. I think he actually blushed when I mentioned sex, which then made me blush. One awkward silence and a change of subject later, I decided he probably wasn’t my guy. By the time we finally made eye contact again, I was certain.

The first guy, my current Therapist, is a pretty cool guy. He talks a lot about acting, and truth be told, he nudged me to begin writing again. The outcome is my blog. So you can blame him for that. Personally, if I had to make a guess, I’d say he’s an ex corporate drone, who cut loose, moved to Portland (he’s from out of Town, just like everyone else from here, it seems; about 90% of people I’ve met in this town are from elsewhere), and began living his dream as a Therapist. At least I like to think so; I have no way of knowing this, because despite being privy to the very darkest moments of my life, I know little more than the dude’s name. Weird isn’t it, how you can strike that sort of relationship with someone because you’re paying them? He’s like a stress ball with legs, and a mouth and brain, nudging my verbose meanderings into some kind of revelation. It’s a very underrated and overlooked skill.

But one thing I have noticed, in my search for Therapists (plural) is that there are fucking millions of them. The market is flooded with them. That kind of competition must get vicious at times, right? You probably have inner city Therapists capping each other like 90’s rap stars. It’s like personal trainers. It’s like every fifth person is a fucking personal trainer. Where’s the demand? It’s getting to the point where PT’s and Therapists are going to be hustling on street corners, promising to fix your body and your brain “for fie dolla!!!”

Take Suburban Therapist, for instance, who went to great lengths to “squeeze me in next Wednesday at 11”. And every time we scheduled a new appointment, he would go to great pains to make it seem like he was struggling to find a slot for me. “Hmm, how does ten o’clock on Tuesday suit you?” No, I can’t do Tuesday. “Ok, well… hmm … hmm.” Pause. ”Hmm…” Long pause. “How about ten on Wednesday?” But then, two hours later, after I realize mine clashes with my Wife’s appointment – sorry Doctor, can we make it Wednesday afternoon? A flash of irritation, overridden almost instantly by desperation (We’re losing him!!! we’re losing him!!!) “Hmm…. How does Wednesday at four suit you?” Sure. “Thank fu… I mean, uh, see you then.”

I can afford it, fortunately. My co-pay is five dollars. I feel almost rude handing it over. “I can buy lunch today,” I imagine him wonder, as he snatches it Gollum-style from my hand. But I forget it doesn’t work like that here. In Ireland you either pay or you don’t. Insurance covers everything but a deductible, which essentially means you pay full price for a lot of stuff (medications, primary care visits, etc.). But when they carted me out here, my company gave me really good insurance. I’m not sure why; part of me thinks it’s because they are so awesome, but another, more cynical part of me thinks it’s so I didn’t run screaming for the nearest airport after the first brief flu season. Either way, it’s really good insurance. The problem with this, however, is that when I walk into a doctor’s office, I can feel them eyeing me up; I can hear them wiping the drool from their chin. I feel like a big roast chicken to their Sylvester the Cat.

To be honest, I’m not complaining. They can poke, prod, slice, crack, bend, and straighten all they want if it’ll make me feel any better. Five dollars? Just keep the Vicodin coming, Senior Doctor.

Fade to Black.

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