Transcript of 17th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christina Herald, Thursday, September 11, 1997 at 5:00 pm.

Ms. Herald: Good evening, Doctor! A new tie, is it?
Dr. Balis: Actually I got it while you were away on vacation. But you always notice.
Ms. Herald: That one is kind of hard not to notice.
Dr. Balis: Touché. So how are you this fine September evening?
Ms. Herald: Oh, I'm great. You?
Dr. Balis: Well enough, but apparently not as good as you. You certainly look chipper. I haven't seen you this happy in a while. What's the news?
Ms. Herald: Sarah and my father are getting married in January, after his divorce from Joanne is final.
Dr. Balis: That's good news.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, I lose a fiancé and Dad gains one. Kind of weird, huh?
Dr. Balis: You gave Malcolm back the ring?
Ms. Herald: Slowly, slowly. One thing at a time, Doc! It's been a crazy but great week and there's a lot to tell.
Dr. Balis: All right, all right. But after last week, you can't expect me not to be concerned with the Malcolm situation.
Ms. Herald: Ah, so now he's a situation again? But everything in order, Doc. Be patient.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Tell me what happened with your father.
Ms. Herald: Well, remember I told you not long ago that Dad had proposed to Sarah and she was considering it?
Dr. Balis: I remember.
Ms. Herald: Okay. Well, Dad came by the school to see me during my planning period on Monday afternoon. He brought me lunch from this little diner called Gracie's--a place we used to go to almost every Saturday afternoon when I was like six or seven years old. It was our mutual guilty pleasure as Joanne was on another of her health food kicks at the time. Cheeseburgers as big as my head, chocolate malts, and onion rings. I didn't even know that the place was still open until he walked into my classroom with the bag and a big Styrofoam cup, grinning like a fool. I have to admit, I was thrilled. Teacher or no, school lunch is school lunch. It also made me remember how dad and I used to have our special time together on Saturdays--just him and me running around doing errands in jeans and sweatshirts away from Joanne. We always got-on really well when I was a kid--before I grew up and got an attitude, and he got strict with me and tried to keep me from doing anything crazy. So I'm sitting there eating, and Dad's making small talk. But he's still got that goofy-ass smile on his face. So naturally, I asked him what the hell was going on. He said he had to get back to the office, but to come over to the house for dinner on Wednesday night and, as he put it, all would be made known.
Dr. Balis: Cryptic.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, wasn't it though? Not at all like Mister Herald the Horrible.
Dr. Balis: So what happened?
Ms. Herald: Well, I showed up on Wednesday at around six-thirty. Jonny was already there, and from the sounds of things, he is totally convinced that the amount of homework they give in college classes will kill him before the end of the semester. I got a certain demented glee out of that remembering how I felt when I was a freshman. Now someone else is suffering, and I'd graduated. Jonny told me to get stuffed when I laughed at him--made me proud. A year ago, he wouldn't have said that even to me--too timid. Anyway, for once Greg wasn't with him, which lead me to believe that this was going to be some important family pow-wow. Then Gavin came stomping through the door, muttering angry gibberish about having to drive from Santa Cruz and that this had better be important. I was beginning to get really suspicious, and I wondered whether Dad was about to introduce us to yet another unknown sibling. But then he called us all into the dining room. Sarah was there with him. We all sat down to dinner, and the next thing I knew, Dad came back from the kitchen with a bottle of champagne, and told us all that he and Sarah were tying the knot on the second Saturday in 1998.
Dr. Balis: And what was the general response?
Ms. Herald: Stupefication, at first. That this could be the reason for our assembly simply hadn't occurred to me. Then, slowly, everyone started to unthaw from the shock, and the squealing, hugging, shouting, and giggling began. It was really cool. Like everything was finally the way it was supposed to be in the first place. I don't necessarily regret Dad marrying Joanne simply because I love my kid brother, and he has nothing of his mother's poisonous personality. But it still felt like everything was all lined-up. Even Jonny was thrilled--he always liked Sarah. And Joanne still won't speak to him since she found out he's gay. Bitch.
Dr. Balis: Are you going to be part of the wedding?
Ms. Herald: Yup. I'm going to be Sarah's attendant. Dad's having his brother for best man. And Gavin and Jonny are going to be ushers. But you know what the coolest part is? Dad's best friend from college is a judge and he's going to perform the ceremony. I haven't seen Uncle Joel, as I called him, since I was ten. His kids used to be my best friends. Tim and Tara are twins about a year older than me. They're going to come out for the wedding, too. I don't think I've seen them for at least nine years. When Uncle Joel got divorced, they went to live with their mother in Massachusetts.
Dr. Balis: This is all really good news.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, it's going to be great.
Dr. Balis: I'm happy for your father. From what you've told me, it sounds as though he really loves Sarah.
Ms. Herald: Yeah. "He's finally marrying the right one," my mother said. Grandma Strauss doesn't know what to think of my father now, though. He divorced one of her daughters, but now he's marrying the other one. She's confused. But she's coming anyway. And she's going to be staying with me again.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like fun. So let's talk about Malcolm.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, you'd like that, wouldn't you? Well, set your mind at ease. Look here.
Dr. Balis: No ring.
Ms. Herald: No ring.
Dr. Balis: What happened?
Ms. Herald: He came over on Tuesday, sat down at my kitchen table, and started to talk. He was telling me how I should behave in front of his mother; and what we would need to buy for the new place before we left for New York; and what of mine would need to be put in storage, since it obviously wasn't good enough for the homestead of a newly married professional couple. And in the middle of this litany, I got this mental image of him at another kitchen table, talking to a five year old kid, outlining the poor little mite's chores and duties until he or she turned twenty-one. So I just blurted out: "I can't do this. I just can't do this," right in the middle of his speech. His jaw dropped. He honestly didn't expect this: "Didn't I know how good I had it?" I guess not. He kept asking me why. And all I could do for awhile was shake my head. Besides, he wanted me to give Lancelot away. Give up my cat? Not in a million, baby.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Herald: You should get a cat, Doc. Cats are good company.
Dr. Balis: I've thought about it. I might one of these days. So what will Malcolm do now?
Ms. Herald: He's shipping out to New York--going back to the East Coast where he says things make more sense.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Herald: I wondered what your take on that would be. Anyway, we managed to part on cordial terms. He said that he realized, once he calmed down, that we could never have made each other happy in the long term. He blamed himself for a lot of it--what with the way we got started and all. The whole thing was hard, I guess, but not as hard as I thought it would be.
Dr. Balis: So you're all right with this?
Ms. Herald: Not to worry, Doc. It would have happened anyway. We never would have made it to the altar.
Dr. Balis: How do you like the single life thus far?
Ms. Herald: Oh, no complaints. It's actually kind of nice. No one to answer to but myself. The only hitch is that once you get used to sleeping with someone else there, being alone in the bed can be hard. Really hard. It sucks, actually. I haven't been sleeping too well the last couple of nights. But I wouldn't want to have just anyone there, you know what I'm saying? It still sucks, though.
Dr. Balis: I know exactly what you mean. Well, looks like that's it for tonight, Chris. See you next week?
Ms. Herald: Of course, of course. Take care, Doc.
Dr. Balis: You too.
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