The first time I threw a shoe at my shrink was right after he claimed I was “prone to fits of irrational behavior.” That was his opinion after a year of therapy. Considering his fee, I expected more than what my mother had told me every day since I was six.
So I threw my shoe at him and hobbled out of the office. He emailed me a bill for a full session. I responded, “You owe me one wedge sandal.”
I returned for my regular appointment as if nothing had happened, except I wore heels as a warning. He had placed my sandal under glass on his shelf with his diplomas, awards and trophies.
He stopped being my therapist soon after that and we began dating. I suspected he was writing a book about me and needed at least one sex scene in order to sell it to Hollywood.
Six months later, he had enough for a sequel.
It’s amazing how quickly a relationship develops when you’ve already shared your deepest insecurities with a man who’s heard so many stories he considers your particular brand of lunacy more amusing than neurotic.
When he opened up to me about his own weirdness, especially his fascination with toes, I tried my best to listen without judgment, but I didn’t have his training. So I laughed.
After a long silence that included the first time I had ever seen him blush, he admitted he had always wanted to laugh when his patients confessed their secrets.
“Most of our deepest secrets are really silly to others, aren’t they?”
We became friends as well as lovers. Laugh partners, we called it. He’d unwind by telling me about his day, and I’d make fun of it. I’d share the frustration of being the only woman in a law firm and he’d talk psycho babble until I giggled. One time, as I ranted on office politics while I sat on the toilet, he barged in wearing a funny nose and mustache. He nodded, drummed his fingers on an imaginary cigar, and muttered, “Mmm. Verrry interhesting.”
Of course, we had our share of fights. Some of them doozies, but both of us understood how much we enjoyed and needed each other, so we never let our fights go too far.
At least that’s how I felt.
This particular winter evening we were in bed, naked, when he propped himself up on one elbow, put on his most serious face and said, “We gotta talk.”
“Uh-oh,” I said. “The only sentence worse than that is twenty to life.”
He ignored my witticism. When he has something on his mind, he has a way of staying focused. I guess it’s the shrink training. I tried to distract him by playing with Sigmund, the name I gave to his penis, but he stayed limp and on topic.
Uh-oh. All this fun was too good to be true. A series of past break-ups flashed through my mind. I knew where this was going and I didn’t want it to go there. The fact is I had fallen in love and wanted it to last forever.
So I jumped out of bed, ran to my closet, grabbed a shoe and threw it at him. Repetitive behavior, I know.
But he remained adamant about wanting to talk.
I didn’t want to cry. I had to change the mood. Fast. So I shouted, “Get out and take Sigmund with you!”
I knew I wasn’t making sense, but I didn’t care. He wasn’t going to break up with me. I’d do it first if I had to. I hated the smug son-of-a-bitch. I also loved him so much I’d jump headfirst into a meat grinder rather than see him hurt. Which was why I always missed with my shoe.
“Look,” he continued, as if nothing had happened. “If you can put your insecurities and past history aside for a moment, you’d realize Valentine’s Day is coming up. And I just might want to do something romantic.”
That stopped me dead. His train had switched tracks and I had no idea where he was headed.
“You’re the smartest, funniest, sexiest woman I’ve ever met. You’re also the most exasperating, the most frustrating and the craziest female on earth.” He reached around to his nightstand, opened a drawer and pulled out a diamond ring. “If you promise not to change, I promise to be your faithful and loving husband.” He paused. “Until you improve your aim and knock me dead.”
Now I really wanted to cry. But I regained my composure.
“Does this mean there’s no hope you’ll ever be my therapist again?”
“Good. A shrink who sleeps with his client can’t be trusted.”
“You can trust me.” He wasn’t in a laughing mood.
I crawled back into bed and kissed him. “I’m beginning to think so.”
I put on the ring and wiggled my finger in the air. “It’s beautiful.”
“Does this mean you’re saying yes?”
“Now who’s showing insecurity, Doctor?”
Wayne Scheer has locked himself in a room with his computer and turtle since his retirement. (Wayne’s, not the turtle’s.) To keep from going back to work, he’s published hundreds of short stories, essays and poems, including Revealing Moments. He’s been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net. Wayne lives in Atlanta with his wife and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.