The Patient

October 30, 2011
The lights come up on a psychiatrist, Dr. Northland, in her office. She’s sitting in a large armchair scribbling something on a legal pad. Also in the office is a couch covered with colorful pillows, a large desk, a tall lamp, and a window with the blinds pulled down. Dr. Northland is wearing a pencil skirt and a matching suit jacket. She has her hair pulled back in a bun and is wearing glasses. The door to her office opens and she looks up.
Dr. Northland: Oh, hello Mrs. Kennard, hello Julian. She looks at her watch. You’re just on time. Please come in. Make yourselves at home.
Mrs. Kennard sits down on the couch, but Julian remains standing in the doorway. Mrs. Kennard smiles and pats the space on the couch next to her. Julian takes a step away from the doorway into the room, but does not go sit on the couch.
Dr. Northland: How was the drive over here today?
Mrs. Kennard: We’ve had better. But we’ve also had worse. Julian absolutely refused to listen to the radio, even though our show was on. He was adamant that I keep both my hands firmly on the wheel, even though it wouldn’t be any danger at all to reach over and turn the radio on. He simply wouldn’t have it.
Dr. Northland: I see. She scribbles something on her legal pad.
Mrs. Kennard: He was also peculiar about his seat belt. He insisted that he couldn’t fasten or unfasten it until he’d eaten a donut.
Dr. Northland: Mhmm. She looks up from her legal pad. And is this very unusual?
Mrs. Kennard: Well I should say so! I’ve never met another child in my life who demands such silly conditions!
Dr. Northland: But is this out of the ordinary for Julian, Mrs. Kennard?
Mrs. Kennard: Ah, for Julian. No, I should say not. He has a particular fondness for chocolate glazed donuts. I suppose they make him feel at ease upon entering and exiting the car.
Dr. Northland: That’s quite possible. She scribbles another bullet point on her legal pad.
Mrs. Kennard checks her watch.
Mrs. Kennard: I must be going. I’ve so many errands to run. I’ll be back to pick him up within the hour. Mrs. Kennard gets off the couch and walks toward Julian. She gives him a kiss on the cheek. You be good now, Julian. Mrs. Kennard exits the office.
Dr. Northland is still scribbling on her legal pad. She finishes and looks up at Julian. He stares back at her. The uncomfortable silence is obvious.
Dr. Northland: Please, Julian. Won’t you sit down?
Julian remains standing.
Dr. Northland: It would make me feel better if you sat down, Julian.
Julian moves to the couch and sits down.
Dr. Northland: Thank you. How have you been since we last saw each other?
Julian: I’ve been well.
Dr. Northland: Good, good. I’m glad to hear it. She begins writing on her legal pad.
Julian: And how have you been, Dr. Northland?
She looks up from her legal pad. She is slightly puzzled.
Dr. Northland: I’ve also been well. Thank you, Julian.
Julian: That’s good.
Dr. Northland returns to scribbling on her legal pad.
Julian: Is your car out of the shop yet?
Dr. Northland looks up, puzzled again.
Dr. Northland: Yes, I picked it up yesterday.
Julian: Ah. Just in time for your dinner party.
Dr. Northland: Yes… Julian, your mother mentioned you’ve developed an affinity for chocolate donuts.
Julian: Chocolate glazed donuts, to be precise.
Dr. Northland: Yes, chocolate glazed donuts. She scribbles something on her legal pad.
Julian: I must admit they are my favorite sweet. Do you have a favorite donut, Dr. Northland?
She looks up from her legal pad.
Dr. Northland: Um, no. I don’t particularly care for donuts.
Julian: Ah, how strange. And why is that, do you think?
Dr. Northland: (puzzled again) I don’t think there’s any real reason, Julian, I just don’t prefer them.
Julian: Now, Jeanette. Dr. Northland starts upon hearing her first name. Of course there is a reason. People aren’t just born disliking donuts.
Dr. Northland: I suppose because they’re sticky? It becomes a nuisance to have to keep wiping my hands.
Julian: That’s a good start, Jeanette. See if you can dig a little deeper.
Dr. Northland: Julian, I don’t think this is what we ought to be focusing on.
Julian: Please, Jeanette, it’s better if you address me as Mr. Kennard. Now, why does it bother you to have to wipe your hands?
Dr. Northland: I don’t like using so many napkins. It’s wasteful.
Julian: Ah. So it’s not that you don’t care for donuts, it’s that you loathe an excess of napkins.
Dr. Northland: I have nothing against napkins. You can’t substitute one thing for a totally different one.
Julian: Jeanette, don’t let’s make this more complicated than it has to be. That’s a bad habit of yours.
Dr. Northland: It is?
Julian: Yes, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of, Jeanette. No being is perfect, myself included.
Dr. Northland: How very insightful of you, Mr. Kennard.
Julian: Thank you, Jeanette. I’ve had quite a while to ponder the subject. I have a thesis on it that you might consider reading. Julian crosses over to Dr. Northland and takes her legal pad. He returns to the couch. He glances at the notes she has taken and turns to a new page. Now, about the napkins: have you ever considered using cloth instead of paper?
Dr. Northland: A cloth napkin for a donut? No, that would be silly.
Julian scribbles something on the legal pad.
Julian: And is there anything wrong with being silly, Jeanette?
Dr. Northland: Yes, naturally. Of course there is.
Julian: Naturally. And pray, could you tell me what that fault is?
Dr. Northland: Certainly. Being silly is… She stops and looks confused. Well, it’s… She thinks very hard and then acquires a look of defeat. I don’t know what’s wrong with it.
Julian: Very good, Jeanette! There is no harm in being silly. I’m quite impressed that you could recognize such a fundamental truth. Don’t you feel liberated?
Dr. Northland: No. I feel confused.
Julian: There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s quite a significant concept. It will probably take some time to settle in. Nonetheless, you’ve made remarkable progress today, Jeanette.
Dr. Northland: (blushing) Thank you, Mr. Kennard.
Julian: No, thank you, Jeanette. He stands up and stretches. Then he hands the legal pad back to Dr. Northland. It was an excellent session. Now, within the next week, I would like you eat a donut with a cloth napkin. Do you think you can do that?
Dr. Northland: Yes, Mr. Kennard.
Julian: Excellent. I’ll see you next week at the same time. He crosses over to Dr. Northland and shakes her hand. Take care, Jeanette. He faces full front to the audience and grins broadly. He exits Dr. Northland’s office
-The End-





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