I was giving a lot of thought to this afternoon's appointment. It was my first time seeing a psychiatrist, and the possible repercussions were bothering me. I mean, sure, I had always been sort of regarded as "off-the-wall", perhaps unconventional, maybe "eccentric" even, but no one had ever called me crazy, at least to my face.
For instance, I never thought of my little brother as the embodiment of world destruction. Nor did I see him as the Anti-Christ. He was a royal pain in the ass sometimes, but what little brother isn't? I had been recommended to see a psychologist to assess what he termed "suspected hypomania", and he arranged for this meeting with the psychiatrist just to "make sure everything is okay". At a rather exorbitant $225 an hour, you would think they could do a little bit more than that.
I did a search for hypomania on the Internet. The condition was characterized by a high energy level and euphoric mood that could last for several days and then change to irritability, intolerance and rage. Other symptoms included extroversion, loss of judgment, rapid speech/flow of ideas, an increased sex drive and a low need for sleep. It sounded like I was a prime candidate. Except for the rage part.
As far as I was concerned, none of this was a big surprise to me. I was certainly extroverted, was fairly friendly with strangers, was usually in a good mood, and I was fairly productive and creative. I didn't sleep a lot, and while I didn't consider myself promiscuous, I possessed a healthy sex drive. I was the one everybody attached the word "hyperactive". Self-esteem was not a problem of mine, and I didn't think I had any problems with the squandering of funds. In fact, I was quite frugal. And I couldn't really see any issues of judgment either, but then again, I would tend to be biased in that regard. I simply wasn't aware my mere existence was looked upon as a pathological condition.
Only given the day and time of the appointment, along with the name of the doctor I was supposed to visit, I really didn't know what to expect. The name on the card was Dr. Lofgren, and I half expected him to be a portly scholarly man of Norwegian descent, but I wasn't betting the family jewels on it.
The modern office complex where the psychiatrist was located was in a better part of town. After I entered the building, I walked down a long carpeted hallway to a large waiting room that appeared to be the reception area for several medical offices in the complex.
Checking in with the receptionist, I speculated from the style of her glasses and the lines on her face she was around 50 years old. She gave the definite impression she would much rather be somewhere else.
I sat down across a young woman in a ponytail, who appeared to be perfectly normal aside from the fact she was muttering "shit, piss, fuck" at random intervals. That and the slight unpredictable jerks of her head occurring each time she voiced the words. It was a little disconcerting, but as I tried to concentrate on the pamphlet I had picked up at the front desk, the receptionist called my name.
I stood up and started to walk in the direction of a doctor who appeared at the door to the hallway. I only glanced at her at first, and she happened to be quite cute. She was about 5 feet 6 inches tall, with somewhere between small to medium breasts with long slender legs, and her blonde hair looked as if it went to the middle of her back. She was dressed in a knee-length beige skirt and a light blue oxford button-down, and was holding a clipboard. In fact, although I was unsure why, it seemed I knew her. I had never been to this clinic before.
"Right this way, Daniel," she said to me, and as she passed me, seemed to study my face closely before walking with an unhurried pace down the hallway. I took the opportunity to observe a rather stunning ass in the motion of a seductive sway, with the tight-fitting skirt serving to highlight it nicely, and all too soon we were at the psychiatrist's office. She opened the door for me, I walked in and she followed casually, sitting down behind the desk. She looked more than vaguely familiar. "I'm Dr. Lofgren, Daniel. Please have a seat." She looked into my face for an extended moment, and in what seemed like an afterthought stated, "And you may call me Suzanne."
"Suzanne?" I thought to myself, in somewhat of a daze as it came back to me. "Suzanne Barrett?" I reasoned silently as I made out who she was. "Suzanne? But I thought your name was Barrett? And I thought your hair was light brown?" I asked with a confused tone in my voice.
"Danny? Is that really you?" she asked with a smile on her face. "I was thinking you looked awfully familiar. I didn't recognize you with that big ol' Cheech Marin mustache. Hmmm. Small world, isn't it?" She looked genuinely pleased to see me.
"Yes, it's really me, Suzanne... it's great to see you, considering the circumstances."
I had been quite enamored with Suzanne Barrett in my freshman year of college, where we were enrolled in the same English 101 class together at UCLA. I guess you'd call it a crush, but I was hesitant to act on it as she was three years older than I was. There were about 125 other people in the lecture hall, but we usually sat near each other in class and talked when we could. I also helped her with a few papers as the semester went on, and it included meeting her at her place. She was a senior at the time, acquiring needed credits for her undergraduate degree. She had mentioned that she was pre-med, but I was under the impression she was going into pediatrics. It was a major surprise, as I had no idea she had chosen psychiatry as a career. It had been about 8 years. I was delighted to see her, even considering the circumstances.
"Danny! It's so good to see you! I hadn't looked at the client roster before I came in today," she told me and smiled. "What are you doing in Birmingham?" She seemed to an unspecified glow about her.
"It's really nice to see you as well, Suzanne. I'm a writer these days. Short stories, novellas, and, umm... other things," I told her, neglecting to mention that my main source of income was from writing erotica under the pseudonym 'Dick Bigger'. "I live out in the country about 60 miles south of town. Dirt road, well water, lots of trees, deer in the back yard, the whole ten yards; a good place to write," I explained. "How about yourself?"
"I'm impressed, Danny. I do a little writing myself besides the technical drafts and such I have to do for universities and such. I ended up in Birmingham because of a teaching job at University of Alabama at Birmingham that opened up, and I also have a burgeoning 'roving' practice, where I see clients all over Shelby County," she related. "So, what has it been, 8 years or so?"
"I believe so," I told her, and looked to see her poring over the file my psychologist had prepared. I was kind of uneasy watching her read the file, for no other reason that I didn't know what it contained.
We began talking, discussing both the past and present, and she explained the reason why her name wasn't Barrett anymore. She had married an older anatomy professor at the medical school she had attended, and she had stayed together with him for almost 7 years. As she spoke, she gave a few not-so-subtle indications that the relationship wasn't satisfying either physically or emotionally for the duration of the marriage. She was in the process of coming to closure on divorce proceedings that were for the most part cordial, as he was a wealthy older man grateful for the time Suzanne had given him. She gave the rather distinct impression that she wasn't financially hurting. She also explained she had taken to dying her hair blonde shortly after her marriage. It was something her husband had requested, and she thought hair color wasn't all that big of a sacrifice. Besides, she told me, she had always wanted to see how she would look as a blonde. I would have told her she didn't look bad at all. Not bad at all.
"Well, we've wasted enough time. Hypomanic, huh? Hypomania can be an indication of the onset of bipolar disorder. Do you think you are bipolar?" she asked me with a serious look on her face, although her blue-gray eyes sparkled.
"I really don't know. I've done a little research on the 'Net after I was asked about the hypomania, and while I haven't exactly exhibited the more serious symptoms of manic depression, such as psychosis, a lot of what I saw in the descriptions of hypomania certainly apply to me," I told her honestly. "And I can tell you this, Suzanne," I went on to explain, "I'm scared shitless... if you'll excuse my french."
"That's perfectly reasonable. While we don't know if you have it or not, I can administer sort of a screening to help us get a clearer idea," she told me. "Any objections?"
"No, none whatsoever," I told her quietly, although I was very nervous about the evaluation. Really nervous.
"Okay; has there ever been a period of time when you were not your usual self and you felt so good or so hyper other people thought you were not your normal self, or you were so hyper that you got into trouble?" she asked calmly, looking into my eyes.
"No... but I think I've been close," I told her, then asked, "and is it okay to call you 'Suzanne'? I'm afraid I've been presumptuous." I watched her jot a quick note into her notebook. At the same time, I noticed that her breasts looked as good as they did in college.
"No, Suzanne is fine. I remember those times when you helped me out on those papers at school. I consider you a friend," she told me, and I thought back to the essay I helped her with on 'The Oxbow Incident'. "But tell me; what do you mean by 'I've been close'?"
"Well, you know... not that I felt like shooting up a post office or anything, but I would get 'all revved up', for lack of a better term," I told her. I proceeded to view her making several prolonged notes into her pad. 'This isn't going well,' I thought to myself.
"Okay - were you so irritable that you shout at people or started fights or arguments?" she asked, reading from her notebook.
"No... I'm still kinda laidback, Suzanne" I told her. And I really was. Living in a rural area tends to do that to you. I looked over and thought how sensuous her lips looked today. Always had, in fact.
"Have you felt much more self-confident than usual?" she asked me in a pleasing tone, but she seemed as if she knew what my response was going to be.
"Yeah... that's one of them. I just kinda thought I was just being more cocky than usual," I explained to her. And that's how I really felt. I saw her looking at me with a passive look on her face. Again with the note-taking.
"You always were a little cocksure," she said smiling, then went on. "Have you got much less sleep than usual and found you didn't really miss it?" she asked. She looked at me intently. She knew of my sleeping habits from college.
"Guilty as charged," I told her, looking into her face for some kind of an indication. Either way. "I probably sleep on the average of 5 or 6 hours a day. I thought it was merely my 'biological clock' running fast, as it were," I said. I really did believe that. I had been that way my entire life. That's why I thought nothing was wrong. At that, the psychiatrist entered several entries in her notebook before looking up at me.
"Yeah, I remember those all-nighters you used to pull in college. That's not good... as your doctor, I'd prefer you get at least 8 hours per day. I may prescribe you some sleeping medication, like Ambien. How does that sound?" she asked rather cheerfully. 'Too cheerfully', considering the moment, I thought to myself.
"If you say so, Suzanne. You're the doctor, and I trust you more than I normally would any other physician," I told her. I hated the thought of using sleeping pills to regulate my sleep. I didn't like pills much.
"I say so. Proper rest is important. Especially considering the fact you may be bipolar. Proper sleep can be a major factor in preventing manic episodes," she said pointedly, giving me a nervous glance. I was developing a very uneasy feeling. "Were you much more talkative or spoke much faster than usual?" She was beginning to look at me in a different manner than she had before. Or maybe I was simply beginning to get paranoid. This wasn't going well at all.
"Again, guilty as charged. I thought it was just my novel view on life. You know me, I've always been rather gregarious," I told her smiling impishly, then asked, "Is that bad?" I watched her make a few quick strokes in her notebook before she resumed.
"Well, it's not necessarily bad in and of itself, but when a number of factors show themselves as positive, then we may have a problem," she stated ambiguously. I wondered who this 'we' was she was referring to. "Have thoughts raced through your head or you couldn't slow your mind down?"
"I've had racing thoughts. Sure thing. Again, I thought they were just inherent to me," I said. "I thought it was simply the way I was." I really did. I had nothing to compare it to. She made a few hurried notations in her notebook.
"Are you so easily distracted by things around you that you had trouble concentrating or staying on track?", she inquired, and she looked as if already had a clue as to what I was going to say. At least that's how I read it.
"Are you sure you've never read any of my stuff?" I joked, and upon seeing her smile, I continued. "Yes, I do have those problems, but I thought they were merely the plague of a 'scatterbrained writer'. I have to do extensive outlines of stories I am going to write to be sure I stay on track, because, quite frankly, I lack the discipline to tell a story without meandering needlessly all over the place," I told her with an exasperated tone in my voice.
"Perhaps I will... I'd like to read some of your stuff, Danny," she told me, looking at me for an extended moment. "Have you had much more energy than usual?" she asked. She looked at me again like she knew what the response would be.
"That's me. To be honest, I thought that was my particular body type. I thought I was simply 'hyper'," I was telling her as I watched her scribbling into her pad, "and everyone else was less so."
"I'll agree with you on that point. When we were going to the U of A, I actually thought you were doing methamphetamine or something when you were helping me with those term papers. You were going a mile a minute," she said. "Were you?" she asked quietly, almost as a second thought.
"Nope. Never was much of a speed man. Makes you grind your teeth and smoke like it's going out of style," I told her honestly, as I had no reason to lie. She looked at me and grinned winsomely.
"This is off topic, so don't feel compelled to answer, but do you still use marijuana at all?" she asked me. She had used the word 'still' because she was aware of the fact I smoked reefer in college. If I recalled correctly, I had smoked a joint with her one night after we finished one of her papers for English 101.
"What's it to you?!" I joked, raising my voice in a mock offended manner, then addressed the manner at hand. "Sure, I've been known to burn one occasionally. It helps me 'take the edge off', if you will, of my normal constitution... umm, I guess this would be irrelevant as well, but do you still use marijuana?" I asked softly, lowering my voice to a near whisper.
"You're right... it is irrelevant, but I'll tell you anyway because I consider you a friend," she said, and paused while looking intently into my eyes. "Remember the joint we smoked after you helped me finish that paper on Orwell's '1984'?" she asked me, lowering her voice as if telling a secret. Upon seeing me nod in accordance, "*That* was the last time. And I was higher than the dickens," she giggled and smiled broadly.
Suzanne went on to ask me many more questions covering risk taking, problems with spending money, and similar issues. We had already spent way past my allotted hour, but since my appointment was her final case of the day, she seemed to have some leeway. She told me there was a good chance I was manic-depressive, but with regular use of anti-manic medication, there was a good chance we could prevent any episodes from occurring. She prescribed me a small amount of Ambien for sleep, but held off prescribing Lithium for the time being, saying she'd like to observe me a little more before committing to it. Christ, I was frightened.
"Now, don't take this personally, Danny, but I'm sorry, I can't really remain your doctor. I'll get you another one assigned here. She's really good. Her name is Dr. Huntsberry," she said, then went on to explain that our prior relationship prevented her from remaining my psychiatrist.
"Yeah, I was thinking something like that might come up. We could still talk to each other privately though, couldn't we?" I asked her, not wanting to sever the ties with the woman I had a crush on all those years. And still did. I looked at my watch. It was 7:15, and saw her studying my face closely, seeming to measure me.
"Sure thing, Danny. Listen, umm... now that I'm not your doctor anymore, would you care to join me for a little dinner?" she asked me speculatively. "I haven't eaten all day, and I thought you might make good company." She looked at me with a flirtatious smile on her face.
"Hell, I'd be honored, Suzanne. Hell, I'll join you for a *big* dinner," I told her and grinned. "I'm fairly famished, myself," I said. 'Perhaps the day might not be all bad after all,' I noted silently. "And this will be nice... on the arm of a beautiful psychiatrist." I noted her blushing slightly as I said it.
"You flirt, you," she said and laughed nervously. "Let me get my purse, and we'll go. Did you drive here?" she asked, and seeing me nod said, "Come with me. We'll swing by and get your car after we eat."
"After you, m'lady," I jested, holding my arm out, then followed her out the door, wondering what, if anything, she had in mind.
As we walked to her car, I noticed the grey herringbone tweed jacket Suzanne had on. I thought it looked quite fetching, especially considering the camouflage fatigue jacket I was wearing. We walked to a dark-blue 1992 Camaro, and after she entered, she unlocked the passenger side, and I got in.
"Have any preference? There are a bunch of CDs in that case," Suzanne informed me. She pointed to a CD case in her back seat, then started her car and drive toward the freeway.
"No, that's ok... the radio will do just fine," I told her. I turned to an FM rock station that I was familiar with where Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" was just beginning to play. I became aware of the enticing perfume she was wearing.
"So, what have you been doing since you left UCLA? And why haven't you married? Seems a handsome charmer like yourself would have been snatched up long ago," she asked with a charming smile.
"As far as the marriage thing goes, don't you remember the line I had when we were at school? The 'neither The Church *nor* The State has any business in any relationship of mine' thing?" I reminded her. "I stuck by it," I told her with a chortle.
"Oh yeah... your 'radical' line," she smirked and smiled broadly. "So, what have you been doing since you left school?"
"Oh that... sorry. I've been writing a bit," I said, still not ready to divulge I was 'Dick Bigger'. Not at the moment anyway.
"Great. I do little writing myself you know," she said, looking over at me quickly as she continued down the highway.
"I'd like to see what you're writing these days. If I recall correctly, I'd turned you into a pretty fine writer when we were at school. You were hurling adverbs and flowery adjectives around like there was no tomorrow," I said grinning.
"You never know, Danny. You just might get to see some of it... soon," she said rather mysteriously. I wondered what she meant.
We arrived at the restaurant, and she pulled in and parked her car.
"After you, m'lady," I said with a grin as I held the door open for her.
"Fresh!" she said, smiling as we entered the eatery. "Thank you, Danny. You always were the polite one."
We sat at a table in the corner, talking about our days at the university as we dined on our dinners of pork ribs, slaw, and beans. We remembered fondly our time writing those papers together, talking and laughing about our college days. There was a pleasant intellectual foreplay taking place. I found myself recalling why I had a crush on her as I looked into her attractive face. Beside her cute nose and her piercing green eyes, she had very sensuous-looking full lips. I think she may have noticed me glancing at them as I was speaking to her. We finished our meals, and afterwards she had a vodka martini while I had an imported beer. Suzanne gazed across the table into my unsuspecting eyes, and her foot found a resting place between my legs, brushing lightly along my length. I responded in an instant, and she flashed a seductive smile, winking at me as the waiter brought our check.
"I'll get this. For all of those papers you helped me write in school; you helped me get a good grade in the class. I don't believe I've properly thanked you," she told me, smiling temptingly as she picked up the check and found her credit card. She handed it to the waiter who took it to the register.
"Let me at least pick up the tip," I told her, and after I set it down on the table, the waiter appeared with her card. "And thank you, Suzanne. I've had a wonderful time." We headed for her car, and I was still reeling from her unexpected graze of my crotch. There was a growing bulge in my pants.
We departed the restaurant, and as we were walking side by side to her car, I felt her hand come to rest on my lower back. I turned to face her, and she caught me by surprise by quickly pulling my face to hers, kissing me passionately. I parted my lips slightly, and her tongue met mine, dancing frantically in my mouth as my hands rested on her rounded hips. We paused the kiss, looking intently into each other's eyes, and she grabbed my hand and led me to her car. I was taken aback, not knowing what to say, and planned on keeping my mouth shut in fear of spoiling the moment.
"I suppose you'd like an explanation," she said, looking me in the eyes as she was starting her car.
"It's up to you, Suzanne. I'll accept the kiss for what it was. It was nice. I've wanted to kiss you since we were in English class together," I told her as we left the parking lot. She seemed to be heading in a different direction than we came in.
"You too?! Danny, you don't know how much I'd wanted to kiss you when you were helping me with those papers. You helped me immensely in that class. I doubt if I'd have gotten into as reputable of a medical school without that grade you helped me get. And I appreciated it. But at the time, I was paired with that dork football player, and if I recall correctly," she said, looking into my eyes briefly, "you were doinking the waif-like girl with the unnatural-looking blonde hair from Oregon."
"Not only that, but I was kind of intimidated by the fact you were a senior and I was a mere freshman. Not to mention you were beautiful, popular, and sought after by all of the BMOCs," I explained to her, and looked to see an unexplainable smile on her face. "But Marilyn's hair was natural... I confirmed it," I said and grinned, referring to the woman from Oregon. I noted the upscale neighborhood we were entering.
"Hmmm... 'BMOC', huh? I haven't heard that term in ages. I remember it well -- Big Man On Campus. Let me me tell you, Danny: Most of those frat guys and jocks were dickweeds," she said, erupting in soft laughter, delighting me with her use of the term 'dickweed'. "Sure, there were exceptions, but that's just what they were -- exceptions, rather than the rule."
"Ummm... where are we headed, Suzanne? I don't seem to remember this neighborhood on the way here."
"We're going to my place, Danny. We have a bit of catching up to do; you don't have any objections, do you?" she asked me, flashing the same sexy smile she had displayed in the restaurant.
"Let me out here!!" I kidded her, raising my voice in imitated anger. "No objections at all, my dear. You're right; we do have a lot of catching up to do. I think I'd like to kiss you again as well."
"Oh, that can probably be arranged," she told me giggling softly. She pulled into a long driveway of an expensive-looking house. "Here we are, babe," she told me, delighting me in her choice of terms to address me.
We both got out of the car, and as we did, exchanged nervous yet desiring glances before heading to her door. The house was pretty impressive. It appeared to be be a two or three bedroom one-story rancher, and it was done in red brick. We made it to her door, proceeding on a walkway of flat stones, and she produced a key to let us in. The front room of her house was striking. There were original lithographs of several well-known artists hanging on her walls, and it was furnished in a somewhat modest but appealing fashion. There were several tasteful Asian rugs throughout the area that I could see. There was a nice personal computer and a laser printer in what seemed to be her office, and the PC was on, with the screensaver going through its rotations.
"Have a seat, Danny. I'll be right with you," Suzanne purred, and disappeared down a hallway. I viewed her superb derriere as she swayed down the hallway and I thought to myself about how I'd like to see that ass. Without pants. The 'little head' was thinking again. I took off my fatigue jacket and draped it over a chair.