Transcript of 29th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Monday, August 3, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Tom. Please come in.
Mr. Darden: I hope you don't mind--I prefer to lay on the couch today.
Dr. Balis: Oh, by all means.
Mr. Darden: Thanks. I haven't gotten much sleep these past few days.
Dr. Balis: You do appear a bit haggard, though I've never seen you this early in the day before. I believe this is the first morning session we've ever had together.
Mr. Darden: Is it? I wouldn't know. I don't make it a point to take note of such things.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Why are you chuckling?
Mr. Darden: I'm sorry, Charles. I guess I'm really not in the mood for this today. I feel a little ill on top of being dead tired.
Dr. Balis: Sun poisoning, perhaps?
Mr. Darden: What makes you say that?
Dr. Balis: You're noticeably darker than you were the last time I saw you. Have you been out in the sun a lot these past couple weeks?
Mr. Darden: No, but I've been lying underneath a lot of fluorescent tubing. I figured one good way to stay out of my apartment is to frequent the "fake-and-bake."
Dr. Balis: How many times have you gone to the tanning bed in the past two weeks?
Mr. Darden: About six times, I think. I'm not really sure. It's yet another appointment I have to nowhere in particular.
Dr. Balis: You need to be careful not to overexpose yourself, though I think it's a little late for me to be offering such a suggestion.
Mr. Darden: Yeah, whatever. We wouldn't want old Tom Darden dying of cancer before he had a chance to be bored to death, right? Maybe I can stick around long enough to see what new Spanish word the weather forecasters will use to hype up their livelihood. Shit, if I were Latin-American, I'd be amused at how menacing they try to make the words "El Niño" sound, whereas all the Latin-Americans hear on the news is "the little boy." "The little boy causes wild fires in Florida," "The little boy brings scores of tornadoes across the Midwest"--it's really silly when you think about it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Darden: I know, I'm going off on one of my tangents. It's too early.
Dr. Balis: How was your weekend?
Mr. Darden: Rough. It's one of the reasons why I look the way I do right now.
Dr. Balis: What happened?
Mr. Darden: Nothing, of course, which is why it was so rough. I cried non-stop and drank a lot of beer--the combination which has left me quite dehydrated.
Dr. Balis: I've asked you to abstain from alcohol while on Prozac, Tom. It's very important that you...
Mr. Darden: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever, Charles. This weekend was destined to be full of booze, and no piddling little fear of negative drug interactions was going to stop me from drinking. I'm so sick of being alone. Hell, I'm sick of saying that I'm sick of being alone. I cried and drank all weekend because I don't understand what's wrong with me and why there seems to be no one on this planet as socially inept as I am. I actually tried to magnify my pain this weekend. I popped in my copy of "Leaving Las Vegas" into the VCR, quite possibly the most depressing movie ever made. Have you ever seen it?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I have. It's certainly not what one would describe as an uplifting film.
Mr. Darden: Definitely not. Well, as I was drinking my beer, I played the movie up to the scene in which Nicholas Cage and Elizabeth Shue were in the hotel room for the first time together. As a prostitute, she was just interested in turning the trick and getting out of there when the meter ran out. But Nicholas Cage's character told her that he didn't care about the sex. "There's time left. You can have more money. You can drink all you want. Just stay. That's what I want. I want you to talk or listen, but just stay," he pleaded with her. It's such a heart-wrenching scene that I break down completely whenever I watch it.
Dr. Balis: You relate to the character's loneliness.
Mr. Darden: Completely. The movie has profound meaning to me. I know precisely how the character feels. And it's not like the movie's totally fiction, either. It's pretty much an autobiographical account of the author's own despair. And it's very typical of the entertainment industry to bank on this guy's inner turmoil. Did you know that the author committed suicide shortly after signing the movie deal?
Dr. Balis: No, I hadn't heard that.
Mr. Darden: And do you think those fucking heartless movie executives had a single moment's thought about holding off on the project after the guy died? Fuck no. Those bastards went on to make millions off the author's anguish. Fucking, fucking leeches! God damn them all! That's the reality of this fucking planet, Charles. That's what life is all about--exploitation, competition, selfishness. We are all selfish fucking creatures, all six billion of us. No one gives a shit. Even Mother Theresa had motives. Don't think for a second otherwise. So do you, Charles, for that matter. You hide behind the medical shield claiming to help people, but it's a pretty fucking lucrative job for you, isn't it? Do you ever feel guilty at all, Charles, when you're on that exotic beach sipping one of those icy little numbers with the paper umbrella sticking out?
Dr. Balis: I won't deny that many people in my line of work make generous sums of money, but your impression of my own status is grossly overestimated.
Mr. Darden: I'll bet.
Dr. Balis: And what of your motives, Tom? Surely you have some. Or are you the exception to the rule?
Mr. Darden: Motives for what, for staying in my apartment ninety-nine percent of the time I have to myself? Yeah, piece of mind motivates me to do that, Charles. At home, I don't have to worry about being rejected. I don't have to worry about being hurt or judged by my appearance or actions. That's what motivates me to stay indoors: the chance to be forgotten.
Dr. Balis: What about Rachel? What are your motives there?
Mr. Darden: I have no motives when it comes to her. It's all emotion. At least it was...or still is...hell, I don't know.
Dr. Balis: The pyramid you drew seemed to indicate some motivation to win her heart, at least in part to achieve a personal goal.
Mr. Darden: Rachel was only on that stupid list because I'm frustrated over feeling so helpless around her. I want to be confident and not have personal issues get in the way of my chance to be with the one person who may very well be the perfect complement to my soul. I'm in love with that woman, Charles. I haven't been able to get her off my mind in months. But I'm afraid she's going to end up being just another woman I was never able to got close to. I've been thinking a lot about the dreams I've been having of her lately. Almost all of them entail some sort of sexual encounter she had with other men. And in all the dreams, she looked at me with utter condescension, because I couldn't muster the courage to be point blank with her and just follow my heart without worrying about the potential consequences.
Dr. Balis: Has the feline succubus been invading your dreams as well?
Mr. Darden: You mean the half cat half hot-chick creature? No, she was just in that one dream I told you about.
Dr. Balis: Let's go back to the pyramid of social tasks you drew for me about a month ago. Have you made any attempts to fulfill any of the tasks laid out on that list?
Mr. Darden: I thought that list was only supposed to be hypothetical. I didn't know you actually wanted me to do all the things on it.
Dr. Balis: Well, I was hoping that you would attempt to challenge your social fears, yes.
Mr. Darden: I went to a bar a few nights ago, and that was on the list. Does that count?
Dr. Balis: Somehow I can't imagine going to a bar to be too much of a problem for you socially.
Mr. Darden: It's more difficult than you think. There are all those people, who mostly come in pairs, drinking and enjoying themselves, watching you walk in alone...and I begin to wonder how many people in that smoky room realize what a loser I am for coming into that sort of place, getting liquored up only to go home alone. I stumbled into a Waffle House on my way from that bar. What I saw there scared the hell out of me. There was a bunch of old men, all lined up at the counter, quietly eating their greasy breakfast and drinking black, diluted coffee. Every one of them wore a really solemn, worn face. And you could tell through their eyes that they'd given up on life many years ago. A few of the men returned my gaze, and as our eyes met, there was an immediate sense of understanding. And I was truly afraid, so afraid that I darted out of that place without even ordering.
Dr. Balis: I don't believe you'll ever end up like these men you've described.
Mr. Darden: I wish I could believe that.
Dr. Balis: So long as you put forth an effort, there are always possibilities. Our time's up, Thomas. I don't want to make you too late for work.
Mr. Darden: I don't intend on showing up to work today. I don't really feel up to it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Darden: So long, Charles.
Dr. Balis: See you in a couple weeks, Tom.
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