Transcript of 6th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, August 13, 1996 at 4 pm.

Ms. Bows: Hello, Doctor. Nice to see you.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Sylvia. How are you?
Ms. Bows: I'm very well, Doctor. I have to say again how pleased I am that you came on Saturday. I really didn't think you'd come. I even had a bet with Rene--she won.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry I lost your bet for you.
Ms. Bows: Oh, not at all. It was nice to see you as a person. You know that in all the time I've known you, I've never seen your legs? I didn't realize you were so tall.
Dr. Balis: I want to thank you again. I really had a good time at your Martian Party. I have to say, Sylvia, that you surround yourself with a very interesting group of people.
Ms. Bows: I try. By the way, Rene really liked you. She said that I did not exaggerate about you a bit--that you are as intelligent and charming as I said. She also asked me to tell you that she would be very pleased if you would ask her out for dinner.
Dr. Balis: Uh...
Ms. Bows: No, no, Doctor. Here's Rene's number. I'm putting it here on the desk. So now you have her number and I'm just a messenger. You'll have to talk to her yourself. Now to get back to me, I didn't introduce you or tell anyone at the party that you're my therapist. I thought it wouldn't be a good idea to stress our relationship, since my parents were there and I didn't want them to talk to Tom about you.
Dr. Balis: I guess I'm glad, although I felt a bit awkward about it. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to move our conversation in another direction. How was your week, Sylvia?
Ms. Bows: It was very busy.
Dr. Balis: Socially or professionally?
Ms. Bows: Well, both actually. I have a couple of projects that we are about to ship and that's always hectic. And socially, let's see. After our last session, I went out with Richard. Dinner and The Phantom were great. We had a very good time. After the show we drove around the city in his little convertible Camaro. A very impractical car but a hell of a lot of fun. I love the city at night. It is such a jumble of lights and sounds and people and smells. When you drive around in a convertible, it's almost as if you can just reach out and touch everything. Things are so right there. You have a feeling of being part of it. Experiencing the city this way is almost intoxicating. And Richard understood how I felt. He took me everywhere. We saw the street walkers urging us on and the bridge lights twinkling as the fog settled in. We even walked on the beach next to the old San Francisco air strip. Richard made me feel so young and carefree and happy. I'm disappointed that you didn't get a chance to meet him. I invited him to the party but he couldn't make it.
Dr. Balis: Perhaps some other time.
Ms. Bows: Yes, perhaps. I guess it won't surprise you that we made love that night.
Dr. Balis: I think you even mentioned last time that it was part of the plan.
Ms. Bows: Oh, yes, the "tear-away suit." Sorry, Doctor. Sometimes I just get this uncontrollable urge to try and shock you.
Dr. Balis: You made love to Richard. Was he the only one last week?
Ms. Bows: Doctor, now you shock me. Is that what you expect of me?
Dr. Balis: You seem to be developing a pattern, Sylvia. Am I wrong?
Ms. Bows: No. There were three.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: Not counting Richard.
Dr. Balis: Are you trying to shock me?
Ms. Bows: No, but there were four all together. Does that shock you, Doctor? How pleasant! I still feel very much in control, though. So please don't worry.
Dr. Balis: Would you like to talk about it?
Ms. Bows: It or them?
Dr. Balis: As you like.
Ms. Bows: Bruce Redot is an artist. I think he does very interesting sculpture. He also specializes in ergonomics and we use him a lot to design the casings for our hardware. He has an engineering background, so he understands the technical parameters. But he is also able to visualize the most comfortable and esthetically appealing shapes for electronic devices based on their intended and sometimes not intended use.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like a very interesting job.
Ms. Bows: And Bruce is brilliant at it. We actually met a number of years ago. I was still a reporter and I went to his studio in Sausalito for an interview. We became friends although in the last couple of years we sort of drifted apart. I ran into him last Friday morning. We realized that we hadn't spoken to each other in almost eight months. He insisted that we have lunch together that same day. So we had lunch in a little French place Le Central downtown. We were thinking that it would be very private, but the Mayor came in with an entourage and reporters and had lunch there too. So actually it was kind of hectic. Anyway, he asked me about Tom.
Dr. Balis: What did you say?
Ms. Bows: That we were having some difficulties and currently trying to figure out what we want to do. I was surprised when Bruce said that he was very happy to hear it. He never did have tact but still always managed to make me feel good somehow. He said that he never understood our relationship and always felt that Tom was stifling me and robbing me of my creativity.
Dr. Balis: Do you think he's right?
Ms. Bows: I'm not sure. It certainly wasn't true when I first met Tom. I think we were very good together. We brought out each other's passions. But it might be true now. Anyway, back to Bruce. When I was getting ready to go home, Cassandra, my secretary, walked into my office with a huge bouquet of yellow roses. Not from a florist, mind you. They were freshly cut from someone's garden and wrapped in a newspaper. Cassandra said that there was a gentleman waiting at the reception desk. I came out to find a chauffeur in full uniform standing at attention and presenting me with a card. It said: "Would you please do me the honor of having dinner with me. Bruce." This was not an invitation that I was willing to refuse, or wanted to, for that matter. We had dinner on a terrace of his studio. Bruce is a very good chef and apparently a good gardener too--the roses were from his yard. He drove me home in the morning.
Dr. Balis: That was number two.
Ms. Bows: Number three happened the night of the party. The strangest part was making love to someone other than Tom in our bed.
Dr. Balis: I didn't see Tom at the party.
Ms. Bows: He decided not to attend.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: The fourth was last night. I was working late last night to finish up one of our technical manuals, except now we call them "information supplements." One of my jobs is to restructure the support materials into a more accessible format. We use a lot more diagrams and illustrations and all our materials go through rigorous beta-testing. We also use a different format now--longer and more narrow. We found that a lot of our clients like to lean the manuals on the computer screens for support and use them to get directions for a particular task that they are working on. This means that we use lots of example and...oh, I'm sorry, Doctor. When you think about this kind of thing all day, it is hard to switch gears.
Dr. Balis: It was actually quite interesting. I have a few experiences when manuals just did not work as intended because not enough thought when into them.
Ms. Bows: For example?
Dr. Balis: This is totally off the topic.
Ms. Bows: Oh no, please. I would be very interested.
Dr. Balis: I remember one time trying to set up a limited e-mail system for my colleagues on this one project. Unfortunately the instructions were on-line and I couldn't get to them without having setup my system already.
Ms. Bows: That's unfortunate. We have problems like that from time to time. I hope you were able to work it out.
Dr. Balis: I was. But please let's get back to our conversation.
Ms. Bows: Yes, about last night. I guess it was very unprofessional of me. I know that the rule is never to have sex with any of one's employees. But, he's a technical writer on my staff. We finished editing the final version by eleven-thirty last night. Everyone had left by then. We were just going over the last bit he wrote over the weekend. We had a few changes and we had to redo a large section. We were both tired and hungry, we had skipped dinner, and I offered to buy him coffee before he went home. He accepted my invitation. We went to a diner around the corner. It turns out that he used to be an author and started to write technical manuals to support his family. I know how hard it is to break through in the writing business. He told me some of his stories. I thought they were very entertaining--adventure mostly, the kind of stuff I used to read when I was nine or ten. But the stories had charm and were very compassionate. You know, I worked with this man for a long time and never really had the chance to get to know him before. I asked him if he needed a ride home--it was too late for public transit. He said yes and then asked if I minded taking the long route home.
Dr. Balis: Did you?
Ms. Bows: I was happy to. We went to the top of Twin Peaks and watched the city for a while. Then he asked if I would mind if he kissed me. I said I would like that. The rest...
Dr. Balis: Do you mind telling me his name?
Ms. Bows: Actually, I can't. He made me promise not to--it was the first time he ever did anything like this and apparently he's married. I guess I just assumed that it wasn't an issue since he initiated the first move. But...well, I can't give his name. I promised.
Dr. Balis: You're a very intelligent woman, Sylvia and I know that you understand the need for precautions if you are to take up a promiscuous life style. Are you practicing safe sex?
Ms. Bows: Well, actually I hate condoms. But please Doctor, don't worry. I have it all figured out. I'm not about to risk my life stupidly.
Dr. Balis: You can't just trust your instincts on this, Sylvia. Just because a man looks nice or clean or something doesn't mean that he hasn't been exposed to the AIDS virus.
Ms. Bows: Look, I know about safe sex and I understand how the transmission of the HIV virus is spread. I could probably explain to you things about mucus contact and germ transmission, Doctor. But really you don't have to be concerned for my sake.
Dr. Balis: Okay, I'll leave it at that, although I don't understand. You aren't spending enough time with these guys to drag them to a testing lab in advance. I hope that you really do know what you are doing. Our time is up now, Sylvia. Should we make the next appointment at the same time next week? That's Thursday, August 20th at 4 pm.
Ms. Bows: Okay.
Dr. Balis: Have a good week, Sylvia. And don't try to shock me on purpose next session.
Ms. Bows: Goodbye, Doctor. I'll do my best but I'll make no promises.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye.
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