Moved to a new town, so (as one does) I got online to find a new psychiatrist. After spending entirely too much time sifting through profiles, Dr. Cronenberg rose to the top with this one-star review:
“At best pompous, at worst incompetent and narcissistic”
Boom. This is my guy.
I arrive early for my 7:00 p.m. with Dr. Cronenberg. In the waiting room, across from me is a mother-on-her-phone and her grade-school-age son. He looks at his homework, then when she hangs up, he asks, “What do the Marines do?”
She says, “They’re kinda like the Army, but, like, really, really good.” Her phone rings, she answers and I go off on her. In my head.
One. You don’t know anything about the armed services. Two. The answer is “They get rides from the Navy.” Also acceptable, “I don’t know.”
I feel bad for the kid. He got a bum deal. Dragged to his sister’s appointment, then treated by his mom as a nuisance. The doctor asks mom into his office, so the kid is left alone in the waiting room.
I want to whisper a joke to him, but I do not. He doesn’t seem interested in me.
His sister’s appointment ends and Dr. Cronenberg calls me in. While rubbing his eyebrows, he mumbles, “Some people just don’t get that I’m not a therapist.” I’m a bit relieved. Two decades into this diagnosis. Just want a refill on my meds and be on my way. The doctor is-—I’m going with—mid-sixties and seems to be eking out the last days of his career.
I sit down. He sits, yawns, pauses, looks around and sighs. He restarts his rant on the perils of being a psychiatrist. It’s like when someone is mowing their lawn and they stop. Then they start again. Red tape, licensing boards, ridiculous requirements from the state, etc. I settle in, listen, nod, agree. I guess I’m his therapist now. It’s fine. I’m used to it. I have a face that makes people want to tell me their problems.
This is a five-hundred dollar appointment. If I leave now, I can schedule an appointment with someone else. Do I have five hundred dollars? I don’t know.
“Which pharmacy do you use?” he asks. I respond. He replies, “Oh—that’s the only one that won’t accept prescriptions from me, due to the fact that I’m not certified with the state.”
Or something like that.
“If you want, though, you could be my test case and see if it works.” He looks exhausted and tired. He leans back, looks to the ceiling, rubs his eyes and leans forward with his elbows on the desk.
He’s going to pass out.
“I haven’t eaten all day.” he admits. He swivels around and calls out to his receptionist, “Could you get me a burger or something?” She hurries out and returns with a bag of fast food. After taking a big, sloppy bite of his gigantic burger, he starts picking out strips of bacon from his mouth. Looking at the rest of the bacon-double-chee, he remarks, “She doesn’t know I’m Jewish.
Even I know that the cheese/meat combo is a sin. Bacon on its own, well, that’s a downright cardinal sin.
He’s amused by her fast-food faux-pas. He looks downtrodden by the burger. He sighs. Turns his head to me. “She’s new.”
He is the character I imagined from that one-star review. I’ll bet that Dr. Cronenberg goes through receptionists like Spinal Tap goes through drummers.
It’s now an hour-and-a-half since my appointment should have started. I haven’t said anything. Inside, I’ve got a big grin on my face.
This is great.
1981. Called the local radio station to request Urgent by Foreigner. When it hit the airwaves, I did a cartwheel to celebrate my newfound power (I was twelve).
2011. Tried out Pandora. It presumed that because I listen to Peter Gabriel, I might want to hear from a lesser-known artist named Phil Fucking Collins.
When I first used Spotify, it didn’t even have Peter Gabriel. It did, however, allow me to make a playlist of every album recorded by Fleetwood Mac, chronologically. (You really need to hear the first one.) When I make my own playlist, I’m creating. I’m grabbing colors from my palette and making something new. Now, I’m the DJ. I find Billboard’s Hot 100 for every year and play each song, in order, every day. I scrounge around looking for the first rock ‘n’ roll song. (No two agree on this, but now I have a playlist of contenders.)
Spotify still tries to show me things I might like. The best of these is Discover Weekly. It takes the tracks I’ve played, throws them into a blender and makes me a playlist. 90% of the songs are spot-on. The others are based on songs I was playing for other people. If I play the worst songs of all time as a joke, Spotify’s algorithms only know what I played, not why I played them. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Are the other “Made for You” lists really made for me?
Clicked on Daily Wellness. First track: Here’s your Daily Wellness….” Second track: “Welcome to your Tuesday Wind Down…we can slow down the incessant need to go off on wild adventures….”
They did it. Spotify hit a trifecta of things I hate: redundancy, pointless narrators, and someone telling me to wind down. I’m pro-yoga, meditation, all that stuff. It’s just that when I do yoga, I call it stretching and I listen to TOOL.