Transcript of 32nd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Thomas Darden, Monday, September 28, 1998 at 12:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Tom. Are you all right? Please sit down.
Mr. Darden: Yes, I'm fine--as fine as miserable can be.
Dr. Balis: Would you like some tissues?
Mr. Darden: No.
Dr. Balis: Are you sure?
Mr. Darden: Yes, I'm sure.
Dr. Balis: Very well. Do you want to talk about what's on your mind? It's okay, Tom. Take a few moments if you need to.
Mr. Darden: I'm getting worse and worse. Lonelier and lonelier. I don't think I can go on like this much longer. I was flipping through different Internet sites the other night, and I found one that stored an archive of photos and videos related to death.
Dr. Balis: Tom...
Mr. Darden: Let me finish. I sifted through the archive and came to a video file of R. Budd Dwyer's suicide. He was our State Treasurer back in Pennsylvania about 11 years ago. The local news was covering his upcoming sentencing, as he had been charged with mail fraud, bribery, and racketeering. All along, Dwyer professed his innocence. The day before he was to be sentenced, he held a press conference that was broadcast live. He gave a speech about how he was being used as an example and that all those close to him knew he was innocent. Then his speech took a more ominous turn as he asked everyone to offer prayers for his family. He motioned for one of his aides to approach and hand him a large manila envelope, which was thought to have contained instructions for his aides to read later. Instead, Dwyer pulled a loaded .357 Magnum. I remember coming home from school and watching the replays, over and over again. They'd show him reaching into the envelope, pulling out the gun, and as he was trying to calm the people in the room down--everyone was pleading with him not to do it--he quickly stuck the barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger. I couldn't believe they showed the whole thing on TV. They kept the camera on Dwyer as his body collapsed to the floor. Thick, dark blood was streaming out of every orifice on his face. I'll never forget the expression he had in death. It was one of complete shock at first, as his facial muscles involuntarily tensed up from the blast. And then suddenly, his eyes relaxed, and he just looked alone. That's the one thing I got out of watching that video: the fact that even though he was amongst all those people in that room, even though he had a wife and children who loved him, it was very clear how utterly alone he was. Last night, I replayed that video about ten or fifteen times. I tried...I really tried to find any glimmer of peace hidden within Dwyer's face. I wanted there to be a realization in his eyes that he knew he was now dead and that what he did made everything better. But there was no such realization. He simply looked hideous, emotionless. His expression was as empty as my life.
Dr. Balis: I hope you then drew the conclusion that suicide solves nothing.
Mr. Darden: It solves nothing, but ends everything, Charles. It's the one answer that everyone wants me to avoid, but I feel is inevitable. I can't live like I have been living for much longer. I don't want to be alone for the rest of my life. But if it's to be that way, it's better that "the rest of my life" amounts to only a few more months rather than a few more years.
Dr. Balis: Don't discount your progress like that, Tom. Don't you feel any improvement since you've been on the medication?
Mr. Darden: Drugs aren't going to make me more popular or more accepted by my peers, Charles. I'm a born loner. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the difference between "loner" and "loser" is only one letter. Growing up, I was never given the true opportunity to set a foundation for lasting friendships and relationships. In high school, while everyone else was throwing parties, drinking, getting laid, making friends, and having a general good time among friends, I was locked in my bedroom, illuminated only by a black light, listening to Led Zeppelin music. Consequently, my mother thought I was using drugs in high school. My brother used to tell me how she'd search in vain through my dresser for drug paraphernalia while I was away. It's funny how she mistook loneliness for drug addiction. I guess the symptoms of the two are pretty close.
Dr. Balis: One often leads to the other.
Mr. Darden: I guess so. If mom were to go through my dresser now, she'd find the very items she sought so many years ago. I still have my pipe with a partially-smoked bowl that I last used with Karina. I sure do miss that girl. She used to let me hold her as she was sleeping on my couch the few days she spent the night. I wish I could hold someone that way right now. Thanks to her, I now have a thing for brunettes, especially the Irish, Latin-American, and Italian types.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Darden: I've really gotten desperate in the love category. You're really going to like this one. I went to a video dating service last weekend.
Dr. Balis: Really? What happened?
Mr. Darden: Well, they'd been sending me letters for months, and I just finally gave in and filled out this questionnaire and sent it back to them. It asked what type of woman I wanted to be with, what my interests were, and so on. So they called me back a week later and asked me to make a free appointment with them, which I did. It was easy making the appointment. Showing up for it was the hard part.
Dr. Balis: But you showed up?
Mr. Darden: Yeah, though I felt very embarrassed. I definitely didn't want to be there. The adrenaline coursing through my veins at the time was urging me to flee. But I stayed. The receptionist greeted me warmly and led me to a small room with a TV. She asked me to watch a video that explained what the company was all about. As she left me to the video, I looked around the room and noticed two tissue boxes on a small bookshelf. The video included interviews from supposed "satisfied customers" who told why they'd sought out the video dating service. They all talked about how hard it was to meet people and that their jobs didn't allow for it, but it all smacked of desperation to me. And that's how I felt: desperate. One woman on the tape said she was glad to have finally found someone really special and that she was happy she no longer had to be alone. I started to get upset. I guess the video has that effect on a lot of people since there were tissues all over the god damned place.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Darden: Anyway, after about ten minutes and three tissues, another woman stepped into the room, introduced herself as one of the service reps there, and sat down at the table with me. For the next fifteen minutes, we went through a basic interview process: what I do for a living, how much I make, what I'm looking for in a woman, what I like to do for fun, etc. Finally, we got down to the cost of their services, and I about fucking died.
Dr. Balis: How much was it?
Mr. Darden: Their fucking membership for one year was over two thousand dollars! I thought I was going to have a heart attack. What was even scarier was the fact that I actually considered it for about another 10 milliseconds.
Dr. Balis: What did you say to the rep?
Mr. Darden: I told her that this was nowhere near within my budget and, like a true salesperson, she then proceeded to negotiate the price. She eventually said I could try six months as a trial period, but they'd still need a $700 deposit from me that day.
Dr. Balis: Did you do it?
Mr. Darden: Hell no, I didn't do it! Are you crazy? Even if I were to spend that kind of money on a membership with them, could they assure me I'd ever find someone to be with? No. I mean, if I were to take that kind of money with me to some street corner downtown, at least I'd be assured a piece of ass.
Dr. Balis: True.
Mr. Darden: For all their services and fees, they couldn't promise me that. So I told her that I didn't want to spend anything today and that I'd think about it. Basically, I was politely telling her that she'll never hear from me again. And then she totally went into sales mode. She was really pretty shameless and ruthless about it.
Dr. Balis: What did she say?
Mr. Darden: Well, the one thing she said was--and it will stick in my mind forever: "What do you mean you don't want to spend anything today? Don't you know that Christmas is coming up soon? Don't you want someone to be with for the holidays?"
Dr. Balis: Wow.
Mr. Darden: Pretty low fucking blow, don't you think? My jaw dropped when she said that, and she knew she had fucked up at that point. If there had been any chance that I'd go with the dating service, it was gone when she opened her fat mouth. But she didn't even have the decency to stop there. She went on to say, "You have to ask yourself how much you're willing to spend to find the love of your life." I could no longer take it. Standing up, I replied, "You should ask yourself how far you'll go to exploit the loneliness of others without losing sleep over it," and then I bolted out the door.
Dr. Balis: I certainly don't blame you. But I'm not sure I understand why you decided to do this now. During our last session, you felt overwhelmed with romantic opportunities in Sharon, Kelly, and Rachel.
Mr. Darden: I hardly see them as opportunities, unless you mean opportunity for heartbreak. That's the only thing any of them could promise me. I just felt that if I went to a service that matched me with a woman based on our mutual interests, I'd have a better chance at lasting companionship. I just never intended for it to be so damn expensive.
Dr. Balis: You're not having second thoughts about that place are you?
Mr. Darden: I have second thoughts about the idea of that place, but I won' t go back, not after the way I was treated.
Dr. Balis: Very well. Our time's about up, Tom. I don't like to hear this suicidal talk. We both know you don't want to end up that way. You do have something to live for, you have to give yourself a chance.
Mr. Darden: Of course I don't want to end up that way, Charles. But I also know that a lot of us don't have a choice when it comes to destiny.
Dr. Balis: I need to know, Tom, whether you're planning on committing suicide imminently? Are you?
Mr. Darden: No, I'm not going to do it in the next month or so, if that's what your asking. But I'm not going to promise that I won't think about it.
Dr. Balis: We can talk about this together in our next session, all right?
Mr. Darden: I suppose so, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Good. I don't suppose that you'd consider coming in once a week, would you?
Mr. Darden: I really do have you worried, Charles. Not a chance. I'll see you in two weeks.
Dr. Balis: Okay. I'll settle for that.
Mr. Darden: Goodbye, Charles.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Thomas.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Thomas Darden's Transcripts Transcripts of Thomas Darden's Communications
Button to Thomas Darden's Patient File Thomas Darden's Patient File

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