Transcript of 24th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough, Friday, July 3, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Sharon. Looks like you're feeling better today.
Ms. Lough: I'm all right. It's a relief to be able to stand again.
Dr. Balis: When did the casts come off?
Ms. Lough: On Tuesday, I went to the doctor. They said my sprained ankle had healed, but I shouldn't put too much weight on it yet. The foot will take longer to heal because of the multiple broken bones. Tendons also take a long time to heal. I use the wheelchair most of the time because my ankle is still tender.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. How's your wrist doing?
Ms. Lough: It hurts, but the brace seems to help. I don't have a lot of dexterity in that hand. You were right about the ibuprofen--the high doses really ease the pain. I'm not supposed to put too much stress on it; the doctor advised against the crutches. But I hate waiting an hour or more for a wheelchair-accessible bus. I decided to take a chance coming here on crutches today.
Dr. Balis: I see. Please be careful. I'd hate to see you get into another accident.
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I know. From now on, I won't throw hot coffee at offending ex-boyfriends.
Dr. Balis: How was your week otherwise?
Ms. Lough: A friend of Tony's made a disturbing comment a few days ago. I'm not sure what he meant by it, maybe it was nothing. I'm so paranoid. With all this free time, I find myself obsessing about every little thing.
Dr. Balis: What did he say?
Ms. Lough: Tony met with one of his pretty boy-toy friends after the Parade. His friend got food poisoning afterward from eating bad Chinese take-out. He was milking it for all the sympathy and attention he could get. The sick fuck was lying on the couch with an anguished look, bemoaning his condition, when he said, "Good thing Tony didn't have any, he's not up to it like I am." At first it didn't register, and I replied, "Yeah, lucky you. Hope you get better soon." But on the way home, I realized what he meant.
Dr. Balis: What's that?
Ms. Lough: I think he was implying that Tony's HIV-positive. Or maybe Tony isn't, and Sick Fuck only wants me to think that he is. What a conniving little shit. I wonder if he planned that whole scenario--I'll bet he didn't even have food poisoning.
Dr. Balis: I think the most logical solution would be to ask Tony directly.
Ms. Lough: Would that be making too much of this? If that little bastard is trying to fuck with me, and I get upset, I'm letting him win, right? Maybe if I ignore him, he'll go away.
Dr. Balis: Tony's HIV status is a serious issue, particularly if you've been intimate and even more so if you've had unprotected sex.
Ms. Lough: It wouldn't matter if Tony was HIV-positive. It's not a death sentence anymore.
Dr. Balis: Well, I think the claims of a cure are quite premature, I'm afraid. Although the drug cocktails seem to work miracles in the short term, their long term use doesn't seem to be the answer due to some very odd and debilitating side effects. HIV is a very serious disease and I'm concerned that you're not taking adequate precautions. And you also have Rob to think of: you don't want to infect him.
Ms. Lough: With the casts and all, I haven't exactly been the seductress lately. I don't have a very sexual relationship with either Tony or Rob.
Dr. Balis: I still think you should talk to Tony about his sexual history. And you should also get yourself tested.
Ms. Lough: He hasn't demanded to know the size and circumference of every cock I've sucked. He could have judged me by my promiscuous past, but he didn't. If he's keeping his HIV status under wraps, that's his right. I'm really tired of hearing introductions like, "Hi, I'm Homer, and I'm an HIV-positive incest survivor and a vegan." Boo-fucking-hoo. I have more respect for a person with HIV or AIDS who keeps it to himself and doesn't expect any special treatment.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. But this isn't about special treatment that Tony expects--I'm not talking about a plea for sympathy. This is information you need to assess the risks that you're willing to take.
Ms. Lough: Yeah, right. I wonder why Sick Fuck had to go and do that? Tony and I aren't a couple; I thought his friends knew that. Besides, most people aren't threatened by me. I'm hardly intimidating. I have an honest face, and I appear to be completely guileless.
Dr. Balis: Only your therapist knows the awful truth.
Ms. Lough: Very funny.
Dr. Balis: Look, Sharon, I can't force you to ask Tony anything, and I can't make you take an HIV test. But I must emphasize that having an HIV-positive sexual partner is a serious risk. You have a right to be informed, and asking him is perfectly reasonable. This issue is clearly troubling for you--you're obsessing about it. You could easily resolve it by asking Tony a simple question.
Ms. Lough: Yeah, you have a point.
Dr. Balis: End of lecture.
Ms. Lough: You'll never guess who came knocking at my door.
Dr. Balis: Godzilla?
Ms. Lough: How did you know?
Dr. Balis: Just a lucky guess. Actually, I'm surprised, considering your last encounter.
Ms. Lough: I didn't expect it either. I think she's trying to convert me to that fruit loop New Age group. She invited me to some sort of born-again pagan ritual with her boyfriend. I tried to get out of it, but Godzilla said that she really wanted me to go--something about needing "female energy." Her boyfriend--this tall Native-American guy young enough to be her son--didn't want to go either. He was tagging along because she was taking him to dinner afterward. I was a bit startled by him, he's an imposing presence. I could tell by his eyes he was on something--he had that stoner look. I thought maybe he could get me some weed.
Dr. Balis: So you were attracted by the lure of food and marijuana?
Ms. Lough: Hard to resist. This ritual was in Marin, of course, at this retreat that had some pseudo-Native-American-sounding name, like "Make-um Heap Big Wampum Meditation Retreat." There are even more fruit loops over the Golden Gate Bridge than there are in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area. It was a really long drive. Godzilla blathered enthusiastically all the way there. The Stoner looked bored. I knew he couldn't wait to get high. I felt kind of sad at that point.
Dr. Balis: Why?
Ms. Lough: Because Godzilla was so happy and excited. I knew she wanted to have him there; she wanted to show him off. And I knew he didn't care about her, he was probably just using her. He wasn't in the same head space that she was, and he wasn't even self-aware enough to know that. Jeez, now I'm talking like one of them.
Dr. Balis: You're assuming a lot about a man you just met. How much do you really know about their relationship?
Ms. Lough: Usually, your first impressions are right on target. It turned out I was right. As soon as he got there, he said he had to go to the bathroom. I waited a few minutes, then followed him. It was hard to maneuver, because we were outdoors and the ground was uneven. Sure enough, he retreated into some trees behind the restrooms. He was startled when he saw me; he covered up his pipe and tried to act cool. I asked him if he needed a light, and he seemed relieved. Then I asked if he minded if I smoked some weed, and he brightened up. I shared a joint with him--I slipped one into my wallet before we left. He offered me a hit off his pipe, and I saw that he wasn't smoking weed.
Dr. Balis: I have a feeling I'm not going to like this.
Ms. Lough: I only had a little hit. I did it to be polite, so he could trust me.
Dr. Balis: It was crack, wasn't it?
Ms. Lough: Very good, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Was that the first time you've smoked crack?
Ms. Lough: Yeah. I don't see what the fuss is about. I heard how addictive it was--people are hooked after smoking it only once. It got me wired and very paranoid. It didn't last long, but I still didn't like it.
Dr. Balis: I'm relieved to hear that.
Ms. Lough: When the sun set, a group of women started pounding on drums. I knew about flaky New Age devotees in Marin, but I've never seen so many in one place. When they started chanting this ugga-mugga pseudo-Native-American song, I couldn't stop laughing. The Stoner got a kick out of my hysterics, and he laughed a little, too. To stop giggling, I had to think of sad things, like starving children in North Korea.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Did anyone notice that the two of you were stoned?
Ms. Lough: Nah. It was outdoors, and they were burning sage--the whole area was smelly. And we weren't the only ones who were stoned; I smelled marijuana a few times. I also saw a lot of dark eyes. I'd heard that fruit loops favored organic hallucinogenics like psilocybin. I could see how this was a good place to trip. After the initial giggling fit, I calmed down and the drums really got to me. They were almost hypnotic. I looked up at the sky which was incredibly clear. I felt like the night sky was pushing down on my face, while the sound of the drums and voices was compressing me from the sides.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: I must have stared up at the sky for a long time--my neck really hurt afterward. By the time it was over, it was after midnight.
Dr. Balis: What sort of ceremony was this?
Ms. Lough: I don't know. It was one of those earth-hugging rain-dance kind of things where everyone chants "wunga-wunga." On the way home, Godzilla asked what I thought of it. I told her she had a great voice--she sang during the ceremony. She beamed with approval. I didn't tell her that I thought she sounded like an animal wailing in pain. Maybe if she had sung "Amazing Grace," I would have been more impressed. I also told her the drumming and chanting was exciting and got my heart pounding.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: I also told her she was radiant, that she glowed like a woman who'd just had the best orgasm of her life. I knew she loved that; she was very pleased. I felt like a big bag of shit after I said it.
Dr. Balis: Were you lying?
Ms. Lough: She did have a goddess-like serenity about her. I didn't want to bring her down by telling the truth--I was stoned and goofing on the whole scene. This probably makes me a real asshole. But there's no point in beating myself up about it because she didn't take us to dinner--the whole thing ended so late.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: She did say she wanted me to accompany her again, and I told her I would like that.
Dr. Balis: Really? In previous sessions, you've expressed nothing but scorn and contempt for those who subscribe New Age beliefs.
Ms. Lough: I'd like to learn more about it so I can make fun of it more effectively. This experience led me to conclude that all religion is really whacked and thus ripe fodder for derision. Christianity is no weirder than any of this neo-pagan shit. If you look at the symbols and rituals of Christian religions, they're just as bizarre, like the crucifix that Catholics wear. You always hear people making fun of Hindus for the dots on their heads, but a cross is just as ridiculous. What's the point of wearing a metal representation of an ancient form of torture? If Jesus had been stoned to death, would we be wearing little rocks around our necks? Good thing the electric chair wasn't invented then, because the Pope-ski would look even sillier if he wore a big gold chair on a chain. I've never understood why Catholics have such reverence for an old bald guy with a drag queen's fashion sense. Spiritual leader, my ass. Louis Farrakhan was right when he called him "a no-good cracker."
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Modern-day paganism is just as nonsensical as any other belief system. But at least you can get stoned at their ceremonies.
Dr. Balis: Yes, I can see that's a plus.
Ms. Lough: It would be cool to start my own religion. I could call them "Sharon's Witnesses." I'd dispense my followers to suburban neighborhoods to distribute cheap mimeographed copies of my obscenity-laden rants.
Dr. Balis: You're really quite creative, Sharon. If you could only channel that energy into something constructive...have you thought about finding a creative outlet?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I'd like to get up on a stage and smear chocolate frosting on my tits while shoving yams up my ass.
Dr. Balis: That's been done.
Ms. Lough: Not by a cripple.
Dr. Balis: I think your handicap would get in the way, at least for now.
Ms. Lough: I knew you'd nix the yam thing. Being disabled is the shits.
Dr. Balis: I was thinking more along the lines of writing or painting.
Ms. Lough: I'd rather rim a rabid bulldog with hemorrhoids.
Dr. Balis: That's very poetic. Maybe you could turn it into a sonnet by next week.
Ms. Lough: More homework! I can't bear it!
Dr. Balis: Sure you can. I'll see you next week.
Ms. Lough: Bye.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Sharon.
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