Untruth & Consequences: So Much Love To Share

By Tardsie

Who’d Like To Go First?

Part 2 of 4: In which bureaucrats make decisions, hoodlum school is avoided, and the author confesses his youthful desire to make love to the world.

Be sure to check out our first installment, Don’t Forget To Hurt. You’ll kick yourself if you miss it.

Another consequence of my behavior has been three instances of mandated counselling.¹ Now, I think these kinds of therapy, when properly conducted, can work wonders in helping people get over their shit and on with their lives. But about the only thing I took from my first two encounters with the mental health profession is that not all professionals are created equal. In fact, some are kinda shitty.

And As Someone Who’s Spent A Total Of About 10 Hours In Various Counselling Programs, You Know I Know What I’m Talking About.

The first attempt to talk the bad out of me came during my junior year of high school.  I’d been recently booted from the choir program, and was having/creating issues in all my non-PE classes. The school bureaucrats quickly concluded that I was on drugs.² They offered me the stark choice of either seeing a psychiatrist, or else I could do my learnin’ with the brooding hardcases over at the hoodlum school. Since getting a shiv jammed into my eye-socket during fourth-period Reading Fundamentals would prove a considerable obstacle to my cherished goal of someday getting the fuck out of Tacoma, Washington, I opted instead for the mental health professional.

Who Knows? Perhaps I Would Have Met My First Boyfriend By Accident In The Dim Stalls Of The Wood Shop Bathroom.

The shrink I ended up seeing really looked the part. She was of that indeterminate age north of forty, expensively pantsuited and detached almost to the point of boredom. To her credit, when I told her that I had never done drugs, she didn’t ask me about it again. She asked me a lot of other questions, though, and made notes as I answered. She didn’t add or suggest anything, just kept peppering me with questions.

There was one topic, however, with which she seemed unusually preoccupied, leading her to ask one particular question several times. If ever, while responding to her ongoing interrogation, I mentioned a female with whom I wasn’t too closely related, she would ask the same question. “And did you want to sleep with her?”³

How Can I Express This Delicately?

I was sixteen years old–I wanted to fuck pretty much everything walking on two legs, a rather unselective sample in which the psychiatrist herself was included, although helpfully, I did not share this information during our sessions.  Instead I answered “Yes” about 50% of the time when she asked me about girls I wanted to pork, and lied the rest of the time.

But after confessing that I wanted to lay down with every other woman I met, there didn’t seem much else to talk about. I stopped going after the second session and nothing was ever said of it again.

So Am I Cured Now?

In our third installment, I’m Tardsie, And I’m An Alcoholic Apparently, it just gets worse.  See you there.

¹My use of ‘mandated’ here may be misleading. Two of the three experiences (the second and third to be detailed in the final two installments) were not mandated per se, but the result of institutional coercion. Only one of them was actually a legal thing. ∞ T.
²In fact, they were wrong. What really hurts, though, is that for a minute there you believed them. ∞ T.
³Just like that: ‘Sleep with her.” I’ve always thought that a prudish and not-very-accurate phrase. I mean, sure–sleep will probably happen, but that’s not really what I’m looking for, you know? ∞ T.
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24 Responses to Untruth & Consequences: So Much Love To Share

  1. Brigitte says:

    Not sure what kind of trouble you got into, Smak cause you sound like a red-blooded male teen but thank God you were adequately shamed into submission (and got “the bad talked out of you –freaking hilarious) before you were released back into society. These are hugely entertaining and I’m looking forward to the next one.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Brigitte. You know, American public schools aren’t designed for the exceptional student (and here I mean “exceptional” in its most basic meaning–i.e., ‘out of the ordinary,’ rather than its more popular positive connotation for “really bright”). You can be different in certain ways (for example being really smart or really stupid, pregnant or hearing-impaired), and they’ll have a place for you. But if you don’t fit within the educational paradigm, you prove disruptive to the system. As I get older, I understand this more, because being a disruptive influence in class impairs everybody’s ability to learn.

      So in a way, everything had to happen the way it did. There’s no way I can change the system, and while it’s possible for the system to have changed me (and to a certain degree I’m sure it did), I thank God that it didn’t change me very much, because the same qualities that made it so hard for me sometimes as a kid are the qualities in myself I treasure the most as an adult.

      When I was teaching in a clinic after college, a lot of times they would send me the kids that the schools had pretty much given up on, but who were gifted and who wanted to be good kids but just didn’t know how. I loved working with those kids, and they really responded to me, so even if it was just for that, it was all worth it.

      • Brigitte says:

        Sadly, it’s a “one-size fits all” kind of system so I know what you mean, despite the fact I have no children, but I’ve always been a big advocate of letting someone be who they are. You seemed to have worked through it all despite all these bumps in the road and are the person you are — with a deep sense of self and a respect for that — and others.

      • tomsimard says:

        “You know American public schools aren’t designed for the exceptional student…But if you don’t fit within the educational paradigm, you prove disruptive to the system.”

        Very nice.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Okay, that blow-up doll image creeped me out. Thanks for searing that into my brain. Speaking of blow-up dolls–and I know this is completely off topic–did you ever see Lars and the Real Girl starring a chunked-up Ryan Gosling? Good movie about a very introverted man and his blow-up doll. But I never saw him tweak any nipples.

    • Smaktakula says:

      I haven’t seen it, although I know the movie of which you speak. I don’t watch many movies, unfortunately (I think I saw 3 or 4 in the theater in 2012), although lately I’ve been trying to work them into my schedule (over the last two nights I introduced my wife to the wonderful film Super Troopers). I like movies fine, I guess, but I’m so easily disappointed.

      Years ago, I had a girlfriend who was an assistant to a screenwriter, and I saw the process by which Hollywood takes a clever script and turns it into an abortion. “We need more fart jokes. Kids love fart jokes,” was one of the many improvements forced on the screenwriter by the suits.

  3. El Guapo says:

    I actually had a hot shrink I was sent to in grade school (my other option was to be expelled).

    I’m surprised in footnote 2 that you believed them, if only for a moment.
    I was always very aware of when I was or wasn’t high. I wasn’t always aware of what I did when I was high, but I did know that I was.

    • Smaktakula says:

      See, I’m not always aware that I am, but generally “Yes?” is a pretty safe bet.
      Grade school? Damn, son–you’re the real deal. They didn’t pull out the mental health guns on me until high school. Up until then they were satisfied with sticking me in with the slow kids.

  4. Sandee says:

    Oh my, you were such a bad boy! Fun! That counselor… Why the hell was she so preoccupied with who you were sleeping with…hmmm…

  5. tomsimard says:

    The only memory I have of a talk with a counselor at high school was one in which I sat in complete disbelief as he suggested in what seemed to be utter seriousness possible career choices none of which required I graduate.

    • Smaktakula says:

      After ‘pet psychologist,’ I don’t know of any more useless occupation than high school guidance counselor. Mine, Mr. Hellman, was a nice old guy, but I think he was a former art teacher who’s department was closed. He talked to me about college when I brought it up, but it was always like he was humoring me, like he didn’t really believe it would ever happen.

      • tomsimard says:

        I do like the idea of the pet psychologist – getting dogs to work through their “chewing issues.”

        The only thing I got from my experience was an affirmation of what had already become a deep conviction: quite a few put in charge of my education would have been better off doing something else. If someone isn’t able to see potential in the young, they really ought to consider another profession.

        This is not to say I didn’t have some great teachers: the Native American who taught American History Through Folk Music; the guy who taught Asian history who had been to Vietnam and talked to us frankly about his experiences; the old-grey haired woman who taught Science Fiction, and whose class was the only bright spot in a very dismal semester.
        .

      • Smaktakula says:

        Was that in college? The reason I ask is because those sound like college level courses. Then again, I went to a fairly crappy public high school.

        In high school, I can remember (and I love your phrasing) ‘dismal semesters.’ I had some good teachers–even a couple excellent ones, but they were bright spots among a sea of clock-punchers.

        However, my college experience was largely very different. By and large the professors seemed to care much more about the students’ education. In my five years of college I encountered a few bad ones (one professor just ate it up when I wrote papers about being ashamed of my protestant, middle-class upbringing and how it was just so awful that people in the world suffer), but none of them got tenure.

        However, I found that the school administration was a business, and had very different aims than the faculty. They were on a witch hunt, and although you can probably see how that worked against me, it actually worked a little in my favor, too. I’d actually procured the acid from a fraternity brother, and didn’t want to implicate him (he didn’t force anything on me, after all; I sought HIM out). So we (another brother was busted with me) so we spun this ridiculous tale about buying the fry on the streets of San Francisco, a story that was not only full of holes, but which contradicted the story we’d previously told, about buying it from “some soccer player in Johnson Hall.” Despite all being highly-educated (and more importantly, intelligent) people, the administration so much wanted to believe that the problem was external that they ate it up.

      • Guidance counselors hated me for some odd reason, especially the one in high school who wouldn’t put me ahead another year to graduate earlier (I’d have been 16 instead of 17) because the “extra studies” would “hamper” my (non-existent) social life. Never mind I had a 4.1 (weighted) grade point average and was bored out of my skull in high school. Since I already had all the credits I needed to graduate in my junior year except for Government (the class he wouldn’t let me take early) the thought of my happy carcass sitting in study halls the rest of the day reading either National Lampoon, a dirty book from the cigar store, or the scientific journal or historical magazine of the day (or all of the above) must have got on the school faculty’s nerves.

        They let me enroll in college classes at Ohio State in the afternoons, (I was the first in my particular high school who was permitted, uh, encouraged, to do that,) and I partied on my entire senior year.

        Why the hell the guy didn’t just let me take Government my junior year so he could be rid of me a whole year ahead of schedule (and I could just enroll full time at Ohio State or whatever) is beyond me.

        Those who can do, do. Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, become guidance counselors.

  6. I think what is amazing about this post is time. I entered high school in 1985, a whopping 28 years ago, and reading this – I fly back there in the blink of an eye. My guy friends, I had grown up with all my life, were hated by most of the adults. We listened to Ozzy and said fuck alot. We smoked weed and cigarettes and were considered ‘hoodlums’ – that is the exact term they used for us (in Jr High, too). Even though I’m just a shadow of that person – I STILL remember how it felt to have someone try to talk the bad out of you.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Hey Chicago Blanca,

      Your response really touched me (and that’s not something I often say with a straight face). I tend to look back on those days with sort of a “Ha Ha” mentality, but sometimes it’s good to have a reminder that it did hurt. We’re taught to believe that teachers are fair and just, and so their opinions take on weight. When everybody’s telling you that you’re wrong for being the way you are, when they imply that your parents (or parent in my case) are somehow lacking because of the way you turned out, when they tell you you’re broken and in need of fixing, it’s hard sometimes not to believe them.

      It sounds like you never fell for their line.

  7. calahan says:

    Was this a counselor or an erotic memoirist? She seemed to have very specific directions she thought your talks should go. “Tardsie, you have an appointment with our new counselor, Anais Nin.”

  8. Excellent! This was so entertaining, and well written. I can see why you didn’t fit into the school model. I’m sure you were much too smart for all of them.

  9. Alex Autin says:

    Haha! I great glimpse into the American public education system where how well students are able to ‘sit down and shut up’ seems to be the only measure of how well they are capable of learning. When students, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t follow suit they’re given one of two choices; counseling to better prepare one’s self to be a good ‘sit down and shut upper’ in the future, or the threat of being ‘scared straight’. Though I must say…that counselor of yours did seem to have some pretty freaky sexual issues of her own, which had to be more interesting than the sexual issues you may have encountered at hoodlum school.
    Looking forward to the next installments!

  10. tomsimard says:

    No, it was in high school. At least two of the three I went to were pretty good. (Speaking of
    public education, it’s a pity that the dream of equal education for every kid doesn’t seem to be a pressing concern in the land of the free and the home of the brave.)

    I was also lucky at college. I went to a small private one where there was a lot of interaction with one’s professors.

    That dismal semester I mentioned was an eye opening experience for me in every sense of the word. My dad’s business had gone belly-up, and I was uprooted from comfortable suburbia to a rural area where the land was no good, and people struggled, sometimes unsuccessfully to get by. In fact, reading Winter Bones put me in mind of it. Anyway, the ride to school was an hour long, the bus winding its way along badly paved roads. Once I arrived i was treated to such delights as Small Engines (not exactly suitable for someone like me who is to put it mildly mechanically challenged) and Geometry (boredom personified). I still hold that old woman who taught Science Fiction in great respect – I really do believe she and what she taught saved me from going absolutely bonkers.

    I can definitely relate to your comments about the administration. College is a business. If it wasn’t it would be cheaper, and they wouldn’t have college football teams. In grad school I roomed for a semester with a football player who despite being a decent sort really did not belong in a classroom unless, of course, blocking was required.

    I don’t know which story I prefer “buying the fry on the streets of San Francisco” or “some soccer player in Johnson Hall.” Both are great!

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