Before my parents made me go to therapy, Wednesdays were the most special day of the week.
Not because of “hump day,” which is now the basis of the most annoying Geico ad ever (that one with the camels), but because it was a half day at my school.
We got out for lunch, and our parents would pick us up and take us to the Burger King on Broadway, two blocks away. All of us. If your mom or dad didn’t take you to Burger King on Wednesday, there was something wrong there. Call Child Protective Services.
Wednesdays were all about flame-broiled burgers, the smell of ketchup, and flinging french fries and floppy pickle slices at your classmates over the dusty, fake plants in between booths. All hosted by 1970s cartoon-version Burger King, whose two-dimensional smile and royal getup were way preferable to the child-molester-clown persona of that live-action creep, Ronald McDonald.
The reason the school let us go early every week was so the teachers could spend all Wednesday afternoon talking about us.
Who was wearing too much eyeshadow for a 10-year-old and terrorizing the losers, who hadn’t turned in his book report on Island of the Blue Dolphins, should they take away the class troublemaker’s slide whistle that he keeps blowing during Social Studies, what to do about Melvin the extreme math nerd whose Aspergers wasn’t yet called that and who kept disrupting everything by shout-reciting the entire number Pi from the center area.
…And, apparently, who needed therapy.
My 4th grade Cluster Advisor — what my progressive school called a homeroom teacher — told my parents that I was unhappy, and should “see someone.”
Her evidence that I was unhappy was my lower lip, which I liked to stick out and fold over, so it looked like a giant fish lip. (Or, I guess, like a giant, sad pout.) This was a party trick of sorts. No hands required, I could just stick it out and, boop, flip it over with nothing but the lip’s own strength. Lip power.
I told my parents I wasn’t unhappy, and no, I did not need to go to a psychologist.
My dad said, “That face you make with your lip looks unhappy. If you’re not unhappy, why do you do it — because it feels good?”
That question disgusted me. My dad, a shrink himself, always wanted to talk about feelings. I did not.
“No,” I said, gagging like I smelled poop. “It doesn’t ‘feel good.'”
So they took me to a shrink.
Her name was Dorothy Bleck (almost her real name), and she was a big waste of my time.
Every Wednesday, when everyone else was ordering Whoppers, and having it their way (per the Burger King jingle’s invitation to “Have It Your Way”) I was having it my parents’ way: rollerskating down West End Avenue in the opposite direction of Burger King to an office where the light beam from the window was always filled with floating dust mites. There, I’d sit on the floor for 50 minutes and play Monopoly with what was basically an overpriced babysitter.
Dorothy Bleck would ask me dumb questions about my feelings. I’d shrug, move my thimble down the board and purchase Baltic and Park Place. I think she let me win, which did not make me hate her any less.
I’ve since learned that therapy’s not all bad. And, that McDonald’s is way better than Burger King. I don’t know why “flame-broiled, not fried” is a selling point when a fried patty is so delicious. With those little onion bits.
Have you ever been forced into therapy?
Did your parents ever ruin your life, or at least one day a week of it?
Burger King vs McDonald’s: go.
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
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