Transcript of 48th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Anna Green, Thursday, July 10, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Ms. Green: Hello, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Anna. How are things going? How was your visit with your parents?
Ms. Green: Do you want a short version or a long one?
Dr. Balis: Judging from your tone of voice, I want the long one. What happened? Your parents didn't like Martin?
Ms. Green: It's not as simple as that, Doctor. My parents were very excited to meet Martin. He was the first man I wanted to bring home and introduce to my parents. My mom was probably shopping for baby clothes after I asked her for permission to bring Martin for the Fourth of July family barbecue.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like your parents were predisposed to liking Martin. So what happened?
Ms. Green: Well, we drove to Davis last Thursday right after work. You just wouldn't believe the traffic up I-80. It was as if the whole Bay Area was evacuating or migrating or something. We didn't get to my parents' house until well after eleven o'clock at night. My mom was nice enough to warm up some leftovers for us--we were starved. But despite the fact that it was so late, I thought their first impression of Martin was good. And after Martin settled in the guest room, I went upstairs and probed my parents for their opinions about Martin.
Dr. Balis: That's a bit soon--they only met him.
Ms. Green: I know. But it was very important to me to know how they felt about him, even though those feelings were based on only a few minutes of interaction.
Dr. Balis: So what did they think?
Ms. Green: My mom thought he was very nice--Martin offered to clean up and help do the dishes after we ate. She even said that Martin was cute. And my dad said that Martin looked like a decent fellow, but he reserved the right to change his mind after the barbecue. But basically, they liked him. I sneaked down to Martin's room and told him that they did and that he was doing a good job. And then I went to my room--I didn't want my parents to feel like I'm sneaking behind their back or doing something bad in their house. But it was very strange to sleep in my room--the room I slept in when I was a little girl--and have my parents a few feet away, and all with Martin in the same house. Do you understand?
Dr. Balis: Sure. In your parents' house, you could feel and be treated as a child. But Martin represents a very adult part of your life. The combination...
Ms. Green: Right, the combination is very strange. Well, I was finally able to fall asleep and I ended up sleeping until ten. No one woke me up or anything. They just let me sleep, and poor Martin had to be alone with my parents all morning. I mean, it wasn't bad. But I bet he was feeling pretty uncomfortable and strange, too.
Dr. Balis: And did Martin continue to make a good impression on your parents?
Ms. Green: Absolutely. When I finally got down to the kitchen, they were all having coffee and talking about Pathfinder and the Martian landing and stuff. I could tell that my dad was impressed with Martin. Martin knew a lot about the mission and the kind of programming that they did for Pathfinder's on board computers--my dad was ready to adopt him, I think.
Dr. Balis: So I don't understand--the visit went very well, right?
Ms. Green: It could have and it should have. I'm so outraged, Doctor Balis, I can't even tell you.
Dr. Balis: Outraged at what?
Ms. Green: Well, my dad and Martin were setting up the barbecue in the yard and marinating the meat--all that male bonding stuff. And my mom and I were getting together the rest of the meal. My parents were expecting another couple to join us. Then the phone rings. My mom gets it and after the initial hello, she tells me that she got to take it in the other room. That was fine with me. I just went to hung out with Martin and my dad--they were more fun anyway. Then my mom calls for my dad to come into the house. And that was nice too--it was the first chance Martin and I had to be alone all morning. But when my dad came down, he started to act very strangely.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Green: It was like someone just pull the plug or something. Just five minutes ago, he was all buddy buddy with Martin and now he could hardly look the guy in the face. I tried asking him what was wrong, but he only waved me off with a strange expression on his face. I didn't know what got into him, so I stayed around and tried making Martin as comfortable as possible--he was a guest after all.
Dr. Balis: And you didn't know what was wrong with your dad?
Ms. Green: I had no idea at the time. It looked like he lost his mind. Martin tried helping him move the grill over, but my dad jumped when he touched him. So Martin just backed off.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Green: And then my mom came down. And she was even more strange than my dad. She kept giving Martin these very bizarre looks--like he was a leper or had some some form of particularly disfiguring facial skin cancer. I just couldn't figure out what got into the two of them. One moment, they couldn't get enough of Martin and the next, they couldn't find a safe enough distance away from him. I was just about ready to confront them on this, when their friends arrived. We spent the rest of the afternoon pretending there was nothing wrong. Martin offered to make a portrait for my mom's friend. It came out very well. But when Martin wanted to do one of mom, she freaked. Even her friends thought she was acting strangely.
Dr. Balis: Did you try asking your mom or dad what was wrong?
Ms. Green: I didn't get a chance until later. Or, more accurately, I was forced into a very bizarre discussion with my mom pretty much against my will.
Dr. Balis: How so?
Ms. Green: That evening, we had planned to go to Sacramento--the Old Town part. There were fireworks scheduled, and it's a nice place for a stroll on a warm summer evening--very romantic. Have you ever been?
Dr. Balis: No.
Ms. Green: So we're getting ready to go, and my mom suddenly decides that she wants to take two separate cars. They have a mini-van, Doctor. And parking in the old town during the's just not how my mom thinks. And she wants to drive with me in my car while everybody else goes in the van.
Dr. Balis: Including Martin?
Ms. Green: Yeah. I told her that I didn't want to have Martin in a different car--he didn't know anybody and he would feel uncomfortable. But my mom got all...I don't know. There was no arguing with her, and Martin told me that it was okay and that he'd be all right. So I drove with my mother. And then she told me.
Dr. Balis: Told you what?
Ms. Green: Why they were acting like they had been taken over by body snatchers or something. Kathy called.
Dr. Balis: Kathy?
Ms. Green: I knew that she was upset when I told her that Martin was going with me to meet my family. She thought that I was forcing things and rushing into a relationship that could really cause me a lot of pain. She went on and on. She was just relentless. But I understood her motivations--she was jealous. I have to tell you, Doctor Balis, I wasn't convinced when you suggested that Kathy might have a crush on me. I'm so clueless about that kind of thing--I need a ton of bricks dropped on my head. But after that conversation...well, it was obvious even to me.
Dr. Balis: Why did Kathy call your parents?
Ms. Green: She thought that they should know a few things about Martin. My mom wouldn't tell me what Kathy said to her. But she said that she's extremely worried about me and showed me a fax of Martin's first drawing--the one with the whip. Kathy sent it to her. That explained why my mom was so freaked when Martin wanted to draw her. I was so angry at Kathy, I can't tell you. But I finally managed to calm my mom down. I told her that Kathy had a very bad experience recently, and that she's very unstable and paranoid when it comes to men. It must have been consistent with my mom's conversation with Kathy, for she grabbed on to that explanation.
Dr. Balis: And the drawing?
Ms. Green: I said that the drawing was a joke and an illustration of a science fiction short story that Martin and I read together. I'm good, Doctor. My mom liked that explanation, too.
Dr. Balis: Yes, you are good. Reminds me of our first sessions together.
Ms. Green: I'll take that as a compliment, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Did you get a chance to talk with Kathy since then?
Ms. Green: She's been avoiding me. I think she's afraid of facing me.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Does your dad feel better about Martin?
Ms. Green: My mom had a talk with him. He stopped acting like a complete lunatic with Martin after that. But the warm feelings that he was showing for Martin before are gone. I think he'll come around and will like Martin after he sees him a few more times.
Dr. Balis: And Martin?
Ms. Green: He's been very supportive and understanding through the whole thing. He even encouraged me to patch things up with Kathy--he told me that he can certainly understand how she must feel now since he used to feel that way about her. Martin told me that he used to be jealous of Kathy. Strange isn't it, Doctor? The world just keeps flipping from one extreme to the other.
Dr. Balis: It certainly seems that way in your case.
Ms. Green: I'm sure that I'm not the most screwed up patient you have, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Our time is up. I'll see you next week?
Ms. Green: You're not going to confirm that?
Dr. Balis: I can't talk about my patients, Anna. Even to you.
Ms. Green: Okay, then. I will see you next week. I mean, who else would believe my life story? Have a good weekend, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Anna.
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