Transcript of 11th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Monday, June 2, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hi, Tom. Come on in.
Mr. Darden: Thanks.
Dr. Balis: A little late, are we?
Mr. Darden: Yeah, sorry about that. And thanks for making the session on Monday instead of Friday. I've just spent some extra time at work getting everything squared away so I don't have as many surprises when I return from vacation.
Dr. Balis: Ah, yes. Tell me a little more about that. Do you have any special plans?
Mr. Darden: Well, it was very difficult to do at the last minute but I was able to arrange a flight out to Scranton. From there I'll rent a car and head to Swiftwater and visit my Mom for a while. There's a lake near there and I thought after my visit I'd get a cabin for a couple days away from the city. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing in a cabin all by myself, but I guess I don't really have much choice in the matter.
Dr. Balis: And why is that?
Mr. Darden: Because I attract about as many women as a can of bug repellent attracts mosquitoes.
Dr. Balis: I don't think you really give women a chance, do you?
Mr. Darden: I guess not, but I can't help it. I've never been able to approach women, unless I'm drunk, in which case I end up making even more of a fool of myself. I know I'm not butt-ugly yet I also know that I lack the allure that other, more outgoing and confident guys enjoy. I think my low self-esteem is far too evident to women and I know it's such a turn-off. I mean, I definitely don't get aroused by those quiet, mousy girls who cover their mouths when they laugh and do everything to avoid attention, so why should I expect any woman with half a brain to go after someone like me?
Dr. Balis: What about your ex-girlfriend Sharon? She evidently saw something in you if you sustained a relationship for over a year.
Mr. Darden: Totally different circumstances. I never approached Sharon. I was set up with her on a blind date. I didn't really have to do anything. Plus, Sharon's self-esteem hadn't been all that great at the time we met. She had just broken off with her last boyfriend who got her pregnant, then she got an abortion. She was feeling pretty low--I think she would have gone out with anyone then. Over time, my love for her boosted her own self-esteem to the point that eventually she outgrew me and realized that she could do a whole lot better. She left me more for that reason than anything else. It was just a coincidence that college happened to be starting up at the time.
Dr. Balis: You're being too harsh on yourself, Tom. It may well have been true that the two of you were beginning to drift apart, but based on what you've told me, I'm sure the transition to college lent a hand in ending the relationship.
Mr. Darden: Maybe. All I know is that I'll never get that lucky again. And it was luck, make no mistake about it. How many blind dates have you heard about that end up turning into a relationship that lasts a year and a half? Not too many. It's almost as if fate stepped in and allowed me just one relationship, so that I could experience sex and have an idea of what being in love felt like. Then fate took it all away from me. It dangled happiness in my face teasingly and when I reached out to grab it, fate yanked it away. It's not fair. I'm a decent guy. I'm not overweight, I don't smell bad, I read sentences from left to right, yet I see tons of complete jerks all around me with women who fawn over them while I'm stuck at home on Friday nights beating off to a Baywatch rerun.
Dr. Balis: I don't think your difficulty has as much to do with your personality as it does the circumstances you allow yourself to participate in. You're not putting yourself out on the market, so to speak. You have to make yourself known before women will notice you. It's like the old joke about the religious man who kept praying to God to let him win the lottery. But week after week went by, and nothing. Finally, when the old man was losing his religious faith, a booming voice rang out from the heavens--"Give me a break. At least go and buy a ticket."
Mr. Darden: Yeah, great. But even if I do go out, as a male I'm expected to make the first move. That's Society's little damnation for all men like me. I could never be that guy who walks up to a girl at a bar and buys her a drink and starts up some ridiculous conversation about who the hell knows what. I hate men like that, anyway. They all seem like smug, conceited assholes. I have this theory that you have to be a complete jerk if you expect to attract women. Women don't like nice guys. They want someone who will ignore them or cheat on them or fight with them or smack them around. That all equates to mystery and adventure. I've met so many women at work or at college who have come to me when their boyfriends treat them like shit. Yet they always end up going back to them. They never break up. It boggles my fucking mind.
Dr. Balis: Let's go back to what you just said. Women come to you to talk about their boyfriends?
Mr. Darden: It's a tremendous curse of mine. Because I'm so quiet and non-threatening, women seem to think I'm a great person to talk to. If I had a dime for every woman who said I was a good listener, I'd have enough money to hire a high-priced hooker for a week. And lately that doesn't seem like it'd be too bad an investment. Women seem compelled to tell me all about their fucking problems and then I end up giving them advice that they never really heed anyway. Occasionally I find myself getting emotionally involved with these women, which makes it even worse for me because I know I'll never be able to have a relationship with any of them. And it's frustrating. I'm always on the outside looking in. I can see but I can't touch. Why can't I be one of those boyfriends that they come to me complaining about, anyway?
Dr. Balis: You don't have to change who you are to be involved with someone.
Mr. Darden: Like hell. If that were true, there'd be no such thing as bars. You go into any bar and all you see is a sea of desperate guys like me spending money they don't have on booze and hoping they'll score. Society has done this to men, Charles. If you're not the type of person that fits the mold you see on those Calvin Klein billboards, you might as well hang it up. Women, on the other hand, have all the power in the world when it comes to relationships. Any relatively attractive woman can get a man at the snap of her fingers.
Dr. Balis: I don't think that's true.
Mr. Darden: Yeah, right. If a woman stepped into a crowded bar, stood on top of a table and announced "I want to have sex tonight, who will accommodate me?" a fucking line of guys would form, all of them jumping up and down with their hands raised, screaming "Me! Me! Pick me!" If a guy did the same thing he'd be greeted with laughter and a few shouts of "Yeah, buddy, join the crowd!"
Dr. Balis: Well, a bar is about the worst location you could find if you were looking for someone to have a meaningful relationship with.
Mr. Darden: So where do you suggest, Charles? A library because all the women there are intelligent? A gym because all the women there are fit, if not dripping with sweat? A mall because age of consent laws really aren't well enforced, anyway? There aren't a whole lot of options out there, Charles. It must have been immeasurably easier in the prehistoric times when all you had to do was club a woman over the head, drag her to your cave and convince her to stay by showing her what a big dick you have. The fact is, I really want to be with someone, Charles. It's driving me crazy. I don't want to be alone and that's really the reason why I chose to see you. I don't simply want to overcome this fear I have of going out, I want to be strong enough to initiate a conversation with a total stranger and get to know her and ask her out and do all the things that nature intended for males to be able to do. You would think the natural instinct to be with the opposite sex would be enough to get me out of the apartment, but it isn't. Even with the drug you've prescribed me, I haven't found the strength to do anything more than simply be in a public place.
Dr. Balis: But you have managed to go out more often than what is usual for you?
Mr. Darden: I went to the bookstore I mentioned a few sessions back, the one with the coffee shop in the store's center. A lot of women go there--mostly college age, many of them very attractive. I bought a cookbook I'd been planning on getting--naturally, living by myself leaves me little choice but to fix my own dinner--bought a cup of almond-amaretto cappuccino and sat myself down. I was there for maybe ten minutes when a couple girls walked by me on their way to the counter. I glanced back at them and the redhead immediately caught my eye. She was looking over at me and smiling while her friend was placing their order. I started to break out in a cold sweat, more out of giddiness than fear. I tried to maintain my composure and went back to reading my book, when the two girls returned to sit a few tables away from me. As they passed, the redhead said, "Oh, so you fancy yourself a chef, do you?"
Dr. Balis: What did you say?
Mr. Darden: Nothing.
Dr. Balis: Nothing?
Mr. Darden: I completely choked on whatever brilliant words I imagined would come from my mouth. In the end, I simply smirked at her stupidly and out of embarrassment turned back to my book. She sat down with her friend and that was it.
Dr. Balis: What a shame.
Mr. Darden: And I know I blew it. I have had so many shots like that over the years, Charles, believe me, but I squander them every single time. I never dated in high school. Girls resorted to asking me out because I'd never initiate anything. But even when they'd ask me, I'd turn them down. I was too afraid, I guess. Or maybe I didn't feel like I deserved to be with someone at the time. I don't know. All I know is that it took beer to finally get me to open up in any form.
Dr. Balis: How have you been with the alcohol, lately?
Mr. Darden: Drinking about as much as I normally do. About one or two a night and six or seven on Fridays and Saturdays
Dr. Balis: That's not good, Tom. Especially with Librium. The combination is really not recommended. I must emphasize the danger of combining these two drugs.
Mr. Darden: I know it's potentially fatal.
Dr. Balis: Well, I'm not sure about fatal, but certainly the combination is not conducive to your well-being. Promise me you'll cut back on the alcohol, Tom. In fact, you should stop completely. Our time is about up. Try to enjoy yourself during your vacation.
Mr. Darden: I'll try.
Dr. Balis: And I'll see you next on Friday, June 13, at 4 p.m.
Mr. Darden: Okay. Goodbye, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Take care.
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