The Good Doctor

I started this yesterday. Then I found my fingers paralyzed. Or my brain. Or both. Why is it that intellectually, you can talk about a subject, removed…even if it was you in the middle of it? Yet, when asked to tap into the well and actually Be There with it…there is some sort of saran wrap going round and round and round until you can’t even make out what’s inside….

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“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.” –Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art” Pg 40

When I sit down to write, before typing a word, I ask God, the angels, the universe or the laptop to please direct my fingers to help me communicate honestly, authentically and with clarity. Invariably, a subject pops up and I reject it. Oh no, not that. I want to be able to tell a story like they are supposed to be told. Beginning, middle, end. Structure. A frame. But I have to honor whatever fragment of my spirit waves it’s hand to be called on. This one was waving a white flag. It was time.

I made a geographical escape from my family after narrowly graduating from college. In my mind I got terrible grades and made no impact at my small Catholic college, though the evidence suggests the opposite. I hated myself and I threw away everything I had ever written. As if to pretend I was never there. I still have nightmares that I haven’t finished college, where I wake up from a drunken stupor, sickened with the realization that I am a few credits short, or that I missed my final, final. A week before graduation I met a boy who worked at a bagel shop. I was smitten from the first encounter and would show up daily (stalker) and somehow, like a kid playing Double Dutch, jump in line at just the right time to have him be the one to ring me up. Such a slicker.

On a day when it felt like my last chance to make a move, I bought one of those miniature cards typically stuck in a bouquet of flowers. I purchased several, actually. And remember penning a note and somehow ruining it with a heart, or a swirl or a star that didn’t quite fit. Everything had to be perfect. My final card said something about making him dinner, and included my phone number. Where did that courage go?

And so began a feverish and turbulent love affair beyond my wildest dreams. I actually believed his love might be able to cure me, to take away all of the bad memories, to erase who I was. He wanted to move to Los Angeles and pursue an acting career. I was thrilled for the convenient escape hatch. Our family house had burned down in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire while I was a freshman at college, so the “home” I was supposed to return to after graduating was not “my home” anyway. So glad that place burned. I hope it burned a thousand times.

The Actor Boy turned out to be a pathological liar of epic proportions. I never know if I am going to see him accepting an Oscar or smoking crack on an episode of Intervention. I did see him standing in the background as an extra, on Friends one year. Double lives and monstrous lies were acquaintances of mine, but somehow, this one managed to truly stump me like a riddle with no solution. It was however the first time I ever stood up for myself. The lies had fueled a desire in me to take LA by storm and make something of myself.

I kicked him out. My family was over joyed, because they assumed this meant I would return “home.” I’m laughing on the inside 17 years later. Thank God for that lying bastard. Fantastic actor that he was.

I was working full-time for a Hollywood “Health” guru doctor at the time, answering phones, scheduling appointments and manning the front office. Our patients were nearly all famous people. Movie stars, game show hosts, models and the stereotypical movers and shakers of nightlife in Los Angeles. Famous to someone anyway.

I was dirt poor. The Actor Boy had pilfered my credit cards, hawked my TV and had my car stolen so he could sell it for parts. The money I’d been giving him for rent was going God knows where, so by the time he left I owed 3 months in arrears. I was sleeping on the floor in an empty apartment drinking cheap white zinfandel to turn off my brain. Despite the financial struggle, I felt capable, strong and excited to begin a new chapter in my life.

The Doctor used to call me from his car. “Darlin’, I forgot my gun, can you bring it down? Cover the box with some files.” You read that right. His “briefcase” was a brown open faced box. Full of patient files, notes, pills, prescriptions pads, vitamins, medical samples, and resting atop this glorious display was a big fat black hand gun. I was in survival mode, so I just plain old pretended it didn’t exist. And I brought it down to his shiny black mercedes, dozens of times, waving him off like a treasured husband. Bye dear, have a nice day.

Some of our big wig patients met privately for weekly high stakes poker games at a posh cigar club nearby. I knew that our office manager, who had taken me under her wing, went and ran those games on Monday nights, making hundreds of dollars in “tips.” She knew I was in big trouble financially, and had been buying me lunch, worried I was getting too thin, watching out for me like a big sister. Looking back, I think she was trying to keep me from digging too deep into the underbelly of this storefront operation we worked for. Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.

One night after work, I stayed late to ask The Doctor if I could run a few of the poker games to earn rent money. I can still see his shit eating grin. Chalk white teeth. His voice as smooth as hot chocolate. Sure, Darlin’. Anything you want. In fact, I’ll give you a raise. What are you doing for dinner tonight? Let’s go talk about it over drinks.

An hour later we were sitting at a booth in a swank Beverly Hills tiki lounge. I remember ordering a really beautiful Mai Tai. Just like you imagine while sailing on a cruise ship. Served in a fresh coconut, umbrella, frothy, pink and not too sweet. A far cry from boxed white zin guzzled from a plastic cup. We shared appetizers that cost more than I made in a day, and I felt like a princess. All of the waiters and staff knew The Doctor, of course, and they treated me like royalty. He had offered me a $5 an hour raise, and agreed that I could take over Poker Mondays. High stakes.

I remember feeling so special and excited. Like I was part of the in-crowd. I fantasized about being able to afford flamenco lessons again. I was going to make something of myself after all. The Doctor told me I was unbelievably beautiful, talented and had the world at my finger tips. My chest filled with light and pride. I had never eaten such good food. He reached for my hand, big fat gold rings, and fed me what I wanted to hear. That maybe one of our patients would cast me for Beverly Hills, 90210. I basked in the glow of his affections. He was acting so different from the gruff, gun toting cut throat I saw in the white jacket at work.

At the end of dinner, good and drunk by now, we were laughing and telling stories. I was all smiles. He must have had this dance down to the nano-second, because it was as though he snapped his fingers and the music stopped suddenly. The restaurant emptied, the curtains whisked back and all the light and life sucked out of the room. I was too drunk to notice.

He leaned in closely and gestured with his finger as if he had a huge secret revelation to share with me. His eyes sparkled and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what was coming.

“Darlin’, let’s face it. You Were Made For Fucking.”

And everything went to black.

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

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~ by kissingthecockroach on March 2, 2012.

13 Responses to “The Good Doctor”

  1. Wow–gripping!

  2. You’re an incredible writer.

    Yes:
    The restaurant emptied, the curtains whisked back and all the light and life sucked out of the room

    That’s how it feels. SO much love, xo

  3. And you thought you weren’t really ready to be a writer? Whoa… You have a way with words. A strong way.

    • Omg, thank you Eden. This was the first time I popped my silence balloon publicly about this (I just a month or two ago told my therapist) so it is a strange, cathartic, painful, naked and beautiful process….
      It baffles me that anyone reads!
      xoxoox
      The Cockroach

  4. I love your writing. I love your story. I love your words! Thank you for filling up the internets with beautiful words. And your story, it’s so courageous to share! thank you for your bravery.

  5. […] guess I am here to talk more about The Doctor.” Mind you, I have not talked with her about The Doctor yet. I think I have only written a […]

  6. […] The Good Doctor […]

  7. I didn’t want to click like… because, well… I don’t like but I love your writing and your honesty.
    You are a brilliant writer and it is impossible to stop reading…. ♥

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