Transcript of 19th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Friday, September 26, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Mr. Darden: Hi, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Tom. Come in and take a seat.
Mr. Darden: Thanks.
Dr. Balis: The last time you were here we discussed your feelings about this upcoming trip.
Mr. Darden: Yes.
Dr. Balis: Do you know exactly when it's going to take place? You had mentioned sometime in October...
Mr. Darden: October twelfth through the nineteenth.
Dr. Balis: Less than three weeks away. How do you feel about it now? Are you going to go?
Mr. Darden: I talked it over with Karina, and she's basically convinced me to go through with it. So I'm not going to bail out after all.
Dr. Balis: Karina?
Mr. Darden: Haven't I talked about her before? No? Well, we met on the Internet, of all places. Just don't spread it around, okay?
Dr. Balis: Oh, don't worry. Do you think it's a bad way to meet?
Mr. Darden: It just smacks of loser. It's funny, in a way. Couples I've been acquainted with over the years have met in the strangest places--one guy I knew met his wife at a car wash. And yet no one ever really criticizes or questions where you've met your significant other unless you say you met on the Internet. There's just this horrible stigma about it. You feel inferior to others when you tell people that's how you've met--like you can't pick up women any other way. I guess in my case, it happens to be the truth.
Dr. Balis: Is this why you haven't told me about Karina before? Because the way in which the two of you met makes you uncomfortable?
Mr. Darden: I don't know. Maybe. She even told me not to tell anyone how we'd met. So I know it bothers her, too.
Dr. Balis: Could you tell me about her?
Mr. Darden: She's my age and was born and raised in Brazil, but has lived in San Francisco for the past six years. I've known her over two months now. She had sent me an e-mail after reading my personal profile on America Online--an account I don't have anymore. She noticed that I was interested in writing and film making, and so she wanted to talk. I responded, and we ended up calling each other a few times and eventually arranged a meeting. We've been doing things together periodically ever since. I think she's very lovely. When I first saw her, there was something about her features that seemed familiar, as if I'd met her before. Karina's eyes remind me of Salma Hayek's. She's about five foot three and one hundred and twenty pounds and works as a sales rep for a broadcast company. I think she sells air time to sponsors or something like that.
Dr. Balis: Are the two of you romantically engaged?
Mr. Darden: No.
Dr. Balis: No?
Mr. Darden: We're just friends.
Dr. Balis: By the tone of your voice, I take it you're not satisfied with that.
Mr. Darden: Not really, but there's nothing I can do about it. She recently broke it off with her boyfriend of five years, so she's in rebound mode right now. The first couple weeks after our meeting, Karina made several passes at me, and we even made out a couple times. Lately, though, she's gotten completely cold and told me that she doesn't want to get involved in another relationship and make the same mistakes twice--that's despite throwing hypotheticals my way only last month about wanting to start something. It's frustrating, because every time I'm near her I want to touch her, but I can't. Fuck! What a life. Why can every low-life on this planet get laid except for me?
Dr. Balis: Do you just want sex?
Mr. Darden: No, I don't just want sex. But it'd be fucking nice. I've developed a bond with her. We could definitely be good friends. But I feel it could be much more than that, if only I were Catholic. She wants someone who's particularly god-fearing, and I've made it clear that I'm not. So in her mind, we're completely incompatible.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Darden: Lately, though, we haven't been going out much. The main difference between Karina and me is that she actually has a life. She has friends. She socializes. But I fear the real reason she doesn't want a relationship with me is because I'm a complete zero in her eyes. She told me once that she has this problem being attracted to people whom she can mother. I'm sort of like this wounded puppy to her. She talks to me as if I have so much to learn--very patronizing, in fact--and therefore I don't think there's a lot of respect there. I guess I made a mistake when I opened up to her and told her I was seeing a therapist. Now, I feel like the only reason she ever calls is to use me for something.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Mr. Darden: She is going to school while she works. So a lot of times she'll come over to my apartment just to work on her term papers and reports on my computer. She also asks me a lot of computer questions. And lately, since she just moved in to a new apartment, she's asked me to come over, and I end up helping her unpack. After we're done, we'd usually sit down and watch a video together. But of course I can never cross the line while we're near each other. We can never be more than what we are now.
Dr. Balis: Do you really believe that's the only reason she wants to see you...that she doesn't value you as a friend?
Mr. Darden: In my mind, I feel like I'm not really an official human being to her. It's like she feels I'm safe to talk to because I don't really have half a brain, or have feelings, or could add any kind of self-reflecting insight to her life. Lately, I've called her house and get no answer. And I actually got horribly jealous because I imagined she was out with a real man who was giving her a really great time by injecting her with a really big dick. It drives me crazy.
Dr. Balis: To me, it sounds more like she wants a friend and perhaps makes excuses to see you--like coming over to use your computer and so forth. She may not want a romantic entanglement right now, but from what I've heard so far, I think you may be misinterpreting her intentions.
Mr. Darden: She may have been making excuses like that to see me in the beginning, but I don't think that's the case now--it doesn't happen anymore. She hasn't been to my apartment in three weeks. If I want to see her, I have to go to her apartment. She doesn't call like she used to, and whenever I call her, she's never around. She's now hooked up her answering machine. Goddamn it, why is this tearing me apart? I don't believe in destiny or anything. But out of nowhere, she'd came into my life and when I first saw her, as I said, I felt something. I felt like there was a very special quality about her. Damnit, I really like this woman. But it can't go on like this. It can't! It's not fucking fair!
Dr. Balis: It's only been a couple months, Tom. Why don't you give her more time and focus on the friendship? Perhaps eventually she'll change her mind.
Mr. Darden: I've already botched our friendship.
Dr. Balis: How?
Mr. Darden: I sent her an e-mail over a week ago telling her I felt it was best if we didn't see each other anymore. I told her the reason was that I was attracted to her and wanted something more than she could give. I said that I felt she was just using me like all women use me, and that my life sucks, and that I don't want to drag her down with me.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Darden: Then she sends me this reply saying that she doesn't see me that way, and that she really enjoys being around me, and that she won't give up on me so easily.
Dr. Balis: That doesn't sound like you botched anything...
Mr. Darden: Then last Saturday, I drank about ten beers and passed out early in the evening. When I awoke around one in the morning, I called her and woke her up and just started rambling about who the hell knows what. I'm sure I sounded like a lunatic, and I vaguely recall saying some rude things. I may have even scared her.
Dr. Balis: And you think this phone call was disturbing enough that she won't want to talk to you again?
Mr. Darden: I guess so, because I haven't heard from her all week.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Darden: By the way, Charles, it wasn't just happenstance that I mentioned her name. I wanted to talk to you about this.
Dr. Balis: I know.
Mr. Darden: Why am I this way? Why is it that crazier, uglier, stupider people can still manage to find love in their lives, and I fucking can't? I mean, I know I'm semi-intelligent and semi-attractive. I know that because if I weren't, Karina wouldn't have shown the interest she did early on. I also know that if I didn't have all these fucking problems, I'd have a better job and lots of friends and a wife and kids and a dog that doesn't shit on the carpet. Instead I'm a dreary man going nowhere with a tedious, unfulfilling job, no friends, a lot of empty beer cans, and a cat who purposely shits in her litter box right when I've sat down to eat my dinner, so the whole fucking apartment smells like creeping death and my appetite is ruined and I flip angrily through the TV channels listening to people dissect Princess Di's accident about fifty million different fucking times, criticizing the tabloids for causing her death and banking on her misfortune while at the same time advertising their own network's six-hour special report on her. Then I watch commercials selling Princess Di postage stamps, and plates, and T-shirts, and toilet paper holders, and whatever the hell else they can think to stick a picture of Princess Diana on. And in the midst of this, in the midst of all this shit, I'm thinking, "What a fucking life this is! Look how grand and important we humans are!" Well, you know what? Fuck this life. There's nothing particularly precious about it. I just wish I could fade away, drift from society, and in doing so somehow become absolutely pure in my loneliness. Are you getting this all down, Charles?
Dr. Balis: Whew! I'll tell you, Tom--when you go off, you really don't leave much to the imagination. Try not to get too discouraged about your relationship with Karina. It almost sounds like you're purposely pushing her away to avoid being hurt. Take your time with her. And if she just wants to be friends, then you should try to accept that and build upon it. Give her a call and see if you can't patch things up, assuming there's any patchwork to do.
Mr. Darden: It's so damn difficult to accept, but I'll try. Well, I think I've pushed about all I can out into the open. Shall we schedule for next time?
Dr. Balis: Sure. Can you come in Friday, October 10? That would be the Friday before your trip.
Mr. Darden: The plane doesn't leave until Saturday morning, so I guess that's fine.
Dr. Balis: Very well.
Mr. Darden: Goodbye, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Take care.
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