“Hello,” I said as I answered my iPhone.
“Hello. This is Steve Goldman. You left me a message.”
“Oh hello. Thanks for calling. Yes. I was recommended to you and I was interested in making an appointment.”
“Of course. May I ask who recommended me to you?”
“Yes. Oh. Uh, wait. Can you hold on for a second? I’ve put you on the speakerphone of my iPhone for a second while I go to Facebook. This is embarrassing. You see, I’ve known the person who recommended you for six years, but I never knew her real name, only her online name, NewYorkMamaS. You know how it is online. But I knew you would be asking for her name, so she messaged me yesterday on Facebook with her real name, but now I’ve completely forgot it. It’s something that starts with a “S.” I know she needs to remain anonymous because of her work, but she told me her real name anyway, which was nice of her — although I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone else other than you.”
“It doesn’t really matter.”
“No, no, I’ll get it. One more second. I’m on Facebook. It’s just slow. It’s this new update to the Facebook app that’s slowing it down. All the advertisements. It slows things down. Everything has to be ruined with advertisements and monetization. Whatever happened to REAL talking with a friend, one on one? Maybe that’s what intrigues me about therapy. Of course, even in therapy, I would be paying you, so that is monetization too. But that’s different. I suppose it’s the world we live in. Aha, here it is –Shana Danbury is her name! So funny, knowing so much about a person via online life — about her family, her dreams, even the brand of vibrator that she uses, but not her real name! By the way, you do know Shana Danbury, right? She was your patient? Is she normal? I don’t really know her. Ha Ha! That’s only a joke.”
On my iPhone, I could hear him scribbling notes.
“I’ve always wanted to go into therapy. I mean, I did once go to a therapist with my ex-wife, but it was HER therapist, and it didn’t exactly work out the way I hoped, because we ended up just fighting over who the therapist liked better, so that was a bust. But now I’m taking action on my own, which is a big deal, because I sometimes have a problem taking action.”
“And what made you finally take the step to call a therapist on your own?” asked my new therapist.
“You want to know the truth? Of course you want to know the truth,” I continued. “That’s why I’m here.”
“Well, you know how everyone is catching up on old TV series on Netflix and places like that? So, I’ve been watching the Sopranos over the last two months. I’m now on Season Five. It’s a pretty intense experience. And there’s this big subplot where Tony Soprano goes to this female therapist –”
“Yes, I’ve seen the show.”
“Anyway, it’s like I relate to Tony Soprano in many ways. Like if only I was Italian instead of Jewish, lived in New Jersey instead of Queens, and grew up in a mobster family instead of whatever the hell my parents did. Frankly, my father would be a terrible mobster. Just too nice and not aggressive enough. I’d probably be a bad mobster, too. Maybe my mother could be a mobster’s wife, but it would probably make her too anxious if she knew he was out there beating up people. But back to the point. I noticed that Tony Soprano made a lot of changes in his life by going into therapy, so I figured if it was good for him, why not me?”
“You do realize that the Sopranos is a fictional TV show?”
“Of course. But I also write a lot. And I’ve always believed that there is a fine line between the fictional and the real. And to be honest, my final two choices as therapist was between you and a female therapist, but I decided to go with you because you’re a man, and I didn’t want to be like Tony Soprano, thinking what it would be like to fuck his female therapist so much because that would be a waste of my therapy time, since we only have an hour. Or fifty minutes. Why do therapist only give you fifty minutes, anyway? Shouldn’t it be an actual hour? It’s a bit of a rip-off if I might be so brave to say.”
My therapist didn’t answer, but he certainly took a lot of notes.