Transcript of 6th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christina Herald, Thursday, April 17, 1997 at 12 pm.

Ms. Herald: Lie down on the couch and tell me about your mother. How are you today, Herr Doctor?
Dr. Balis: I'm all right. But your Viennese accent needs some work. Where did you find that contraption?
Ms. Herald: Isn't it cute? It's a bubble pipe. The silliest thing about it is that it seems to occasionally try to force feed me bubble soap. Bleech, the stuff tastes nasty. I apologize if I've gotten bubbles all over your desk, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure it will survive. How have you been, Chris?
Ms. Herald: Oh, okay. Went to lunch with Dad today, which was, as always, a thrill and a half. He takes me out to lunch about once a month, to ask me how school's going and if I need any money and why the hell I felt the need to move out anyway when it was perfectly feasible for me to live at home while attending Berkeley. I told him that school was great, I didn't need any money, and that unless he wanted me to eventually poison his wife's peas he'd better be glad I moved out. He just gave me that fatherly chuckle that annoys the shit out of me and waves the waiter over for the check. Huh. I almost thought for a moment that he wouldn't be too disappointed if I did poison Joanne's peas.
Dr. Balis: I take it that you and your stepmother don't get along.
Ms. Herald: We have a personality conflict. I have a personality, she has a conflict.
Dr. Balis: Ah, I see.
Ms. Herald: Anyway, I went and visited Aunt Sarah this past weekend.
Dr. Balis: How did that go?
Ms. Herald: Oh, great. Aunt Sarah's absolutely amazing. And my cousin Gavin was home for the weekend too, so it was just a big party. The three of us have a fantastic time together. You'd hardly believe we were related.
Dr. Balis: Tell me a bit more about your aunt. You seem very close to her.
Ms. Herald: Well, she was more my mother than my Mom was, that's for sure. After Mom left, Sarah moved in with Dad and me for about a year, until Dad started seeing Joanne. She took care of me and stuff, doing all the normal mommy things that her sister couldn't quite lower herself to perform. She lives alone down in San Diego, where she moved about four years ago. She's a total computer nut. She loves the damned things! She never sells the outdated ones; she keeps them up on tables in Gavin's room, and they all still work. She even has a working Commodore 64. Load asterisk comma eight comma one. That thing is so much fun to play on, it's like a relic from my childhood.
Dr. Balis: I remember them well.
Ms. Herald: It's hard to believe that the games that were so amazing then are just blah now. Now that we have--Da Dum!--Nintendo sixty quadrillion whatever it is, I don't know, that has the best graphics on the market, just what all the little zoomers drool into their pillows over.
Dr. Balis: Zoomers?
Ms. Herald: You know, those kids in the baggy pants who stare up at the game screen like it's a god of some sort--those are the zoomer babies. The same ones with the bowl cuts who go around in their little reedy prepubescent voices whining about who rules and who sucks, and lighting cigarettes but not inhaling them. Maybe if we bashed in their heads with big rocks...but no, I am not a violent person. Temperamental yes, but not violent as a practice.
Dr. Balis: Well, let's move away from cultural homicide for a moment. How is school going?
Ms. Herald: Well, assembling my family for graduation is turning into a logistical nightmare. Within a week of my graduation, Jonny graduates from high school, so everyone's going to be hanging around. Well, most everyone. Mom and her fiancé are flying back to London the day after my graduation, and obviously Grandma Strauss won't be hanging around for Jonny's. She's never quite stopped blaming my father for the whole divorce and stuff, never mind the fact that Mom left Dad. I think Aunt Sarah's whisking Grandma away to San Diego with her, quickly and quietly. Aunt Sarah can always be depended upon for the tactful withdrawal of the loud grandmother who screams at everyone in German when she gets angry. But if Grandma tries to force-feed me that liver dumpling soup again this time, I will definitely run and hide until she leaves.
Dr. Balis: Your grandmother sounds like quite a character.
Ms. Herald: Oh that's nothing compared to Dad's side of the family. Mom's side is pretty small: just Mom, Sarah, Gavin, and Grandma. Dad has this huge teeming family of loudmouthed Canadians. Grandma and Grandpa Herald are sweet people, but the rest of the family I can do well without. My uncles are assholes, my cousins make Bob and Doug MacKenzie look intelligent, and my aunt is in some weird sort of coven, I think. They go running about in the Canadian wilderness doing god-knows-what and scaring the hell out of the bears in the process, I'm sure. Great-Grandpa Maguire is cool though. He's Dad's mother's father, and he's originally from County Meath in Ireland. He taught me a bit of Gaelic when I was really young, and he sits and delivers an absolute diatribe on his son-in-law for hours with me being the only one that understands what he's saying. So we're sitting there laughing hysterically--this young person and this eighty-plus old man--and the rest of the family's looking at us like we're crazy. I'm sorry, did I start rambling again?
Dr. Balis: Just a little. But it's okay.
Ms. Herald: I warned you at the beginning that I have a tendency to do that. Diarrhea of the mouth, and once you pop you can't stop.
Dr. Balis: I don't mind. But while you're stopping to breathe...
Ms. Herald: Ouch! Score point for Doctor B. The arrow goes right to the target!
Dr. Balis: Thank you. Now as I was about to say, I am still wondering about this Malcolm character you're seeing. Do you mind if I ask about him?
Ms. Herald: You mean am I going to bite your head off like I did last week? No, I don't mind if you ask now. I was just having a bad day.
Dr. Balis: You seem to be having a considerably better one now.
Ms. Herald: Yup, and I am feeling very, very relaxed. I had a glass of wine at lunch, too, so that's probably why I'm so chatty today. Oh, please, don't look at me like that. One glass of the house burgundy at Salerno's is not going to get me to slide drunk under the table. If I ever do come in drunk, which is something that only happens when geese fly backwards through Alaska and turn purple, there will be no mistaking it.
Dr. Balis: Okay. I'll take your word for that.
Ms. Herald: Probably for the best. Anyway, you wanted to talk about Malcolm the Malcontent. What did you want to know?
Dr. Balis: Malcolm the Malcontent?
Ms. Herald: It's a nickname that they have for him around Cafe Roma. At least it is behind his back. Everyone seems to be scared of him, but for the life of me I don't know why. I know he's intimidating-looking, what with all that metal in his face and in other places, but he's actually quite an intelligent quiet man. When he's not breaking things and people in the dojo, of course.
Dr. Balis: Ah. He practices martial arts; I remember you saying that now.
Ms. Herald: Yes, he actually teaches at the dojo a couple of blocks from the Cafe Roma. I went and watched one night. It's pretty amazing. I thought about joining a class for about five seconds, then I realized that they require a lot more self-discipline than I think I have. Still, it's an interesting thought. But he does have a tendency to brood, I will say that. And he's extremely protective. That night he went after Kevin kind of proved that. Anything important to me, he looks out for. Lancelot doesn't seem to appreciate him much, though. He always hisses at him, then takes off under the futon with his tail all puffed out. I can never get him out until after Malcolm leaves.
Dr. Balis: Hmm, I see. In our last session, you implied that the two of you had been intimate...
Ms. Herald: I did?
Dr. Balis: If I am remembering correctly.
Ms. Herald: Oh, I guess I did. Okay. Well, yes, we were. But just once so far. The night he tore into Kevin, actually.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Herald: I got kind of upset. Kevin was lurking around and that didn't make me terribly happy, but Malcolm taking off after him like some sort of beat-em-up-Bruce-Lee-was-a-patsy demon from hell wasn't exactly pleasing either. I flipped out, seriously. There's a new contender for the worst panic attack of my life. Malcolm comes back inside, all sweaty, his knuckles split open across his right hand, and he just looks at me. So I start yelling, telling him that it was uncalled-for, all that sort of thing. I tell him to get out, and he still just stands there. The next thing I know, well...things happened.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Herald: Doctor, I'm sure you are probably questioning my judgment now...
Dr. Balis: Not at all, Chris. You are an adult, and who you choose to be with is entirely up to you. You do know to take precautions, right?
Ms. Herald: I'm downright paranoid about it, Doctor. Maybe even more than I need to be. And I've drilled that into Jonny's head too, which I think is a good thing.
Dr. Balis: Yes, very good. I don't think that there is such a thing as being too paranoid right now.
Ms. Herald: True. Especially for Jonny. Although, according to what he's told me, he is...oh how can I put this delicately--screw it. I can't. He prefers to give rather than receive if you get my meaning. And while that may be a little less risky, the risk is still there. So I gave him an hour long lecture, after which he was well and truly as paranoid as I. Am I a great sister, or what?
Dr. Balis: Absolutely. Has he decided to tell your father yet?
Ms. Herald: He's going to do it. I have to be there with him, but he's going to do it. As soon as all the other relatives leave. He told Monica, though, who was surprisingly blase about it. She either has nerves of steel or a brain of tapioca. I'm putting my money on the tapioca, myself. I think Dad has figured it all out, anyway. He'll be okay. It's Joanne and her oblivious dithering that I'm worried about.
Dr. Balis: I can see why.
Ms. Herald: Gods, if Malcolm ever meets Dad, I think Dad would find his son being gay tame fare compared to this tall, dark, and surly weird man his daughter's bedding down with. Herald the Horrible in full bloom. I can just see the showdown. Gunfight at the Dominant Male corral. Why do men all have to act like that?
Dr. Balis: Not all men do, Chris.
Ms. Herald: Okay, I'll rephrase that. Why is it that all men in my life, save Jonny and you, have to act like they own any female that falls under their sphere of authority? I am perfectly capable of winding my way through the bullshit all by myself without some testosterone-laden man beating off the baddies with a stick. What if I want to beat the baddies myself? Eh? They don't want to hear that. Did you ever wonder why the heroine of all those fairy tales was never anything but a simpering maiden? It's simple. If a man-hero has a sidekick, it is either a smaller, weaker man, or a stronger, smarter woman. They put the strong woman on the same level as the weak man. And of course, the strong female who is more or less the Man-Hero's equal is always pining away for love of the Man-Hero, who never notices her. Instead the Man-hero is staring into the vacant baby-blue eyes of the simpering rescued maiden. The hero doesn't fall in love with his sidekick. It just doesn't work that way. You have to be a weakling if you want the strong man, or he will make you feel weak and ineffectual until you are the weakling anyway.
Dr. Balis: I'd never thought about it that way, but you have a point.
Ms. Herald: Yeah. Sucks, doesn't it?
Dr. Balis: In a word. Our time's almost up, Chris. I'll see you next week, and until then, take care.
Ms. Herald: Here you go, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Oh, you're giving this to me?
Ms. Herald: All head-shrinkers need a pipe. Even if it only blows bubbles.
Dr. Balis: Thank you, Chris. Oh, I see you brought Malcolm.
Ms. Herald: I didn't bring him. I wonder what he's doing here? Damn. Anyway, I'll see you next week, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Bye, Chris. And if you need physical protection from Malcolm, I'm afraid you're on your own.
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