Transcript of 39th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough, Friday, December 4, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Sharon? What happened to your hair?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I know. I look like I've got a pile of sauteed onions on my head.
Dr. Balis: What happened?
Ms. Lough: It's a performance-art piece, a work-in-progress. I'm thinking of calling it "Self-Annihilation by Haircut." I tried to strip all the color out of my hair, but it didn't quite work the way I planned, and I ended up with two-tone hair. Then I tried to cut off all the dark parts. I didn't have a very sharp pair of scissors, and it came out kind of uneven.
Dr. Balis: You know, Halloween was a month ago.
Ms. Lough: You need to work on your bedside manner, Doctor. You're looking at me like I'm a sideshow freak.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, Sharon.
Ms. Lough : No, it's okay. It does look weird. I should put a bone in my nose and get tattoos on my arms, then I'll look like a true San Francisco resident.
Dr. Balis: What made you want to...uh, experiment with your hair?
Ms. Lough: I wanted to change my hair color. I've been dyeing my hair since high school, that's when I started going gray. I've always used a dark brown dye. Lately, I've been getting a lot more gray coming in. I read that you're supposed to switch to a lighter hair color as you get older. The woman at the beauty supply store recommended this chemical preparation that strips permanent dye out of hair. She said that I had to get rid of the dark brown color before I could go lighter.
Dr. Balis: I see. Have you tried this sort of thing before?
Ms. Lough: No, I haven't, can't you tell? God, I want to put a bag over my head.
Dr. Balis: Wouldn't you rather curl up and dye?
Ms. Lough: You're being very insensitive to my pain, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, Sharon. I can't resist a bad pun.
Ms. Lough: If you were really sorry, you'd wipe that smile off your face.
Dr. Balis: I'm not laughing at you...
Ms. Lough: Well, you can't be laughing with me, because I'm not laughing.
Dr. Balis: Don't take it personally, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Rob hates it, too. Every time he looks at me, he furrows his brow as if he can't believe what he's seeing. Even the cat looks at me funny.
Dr. Balis: Perhaps you should see a professional hair stylist.
Ms. Lough: I can't afford that now. I need to have corrective work, and that costs a lot. Maybe I should buy a baseball cap instead.
Dr. Balis: That's an idea.
Ms. Lough: The only advantage is that it's easier for me to wash my hair now--it's shorter.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad you're focusing on the positive.
Ms. Lough: Stop looking at me that way.
Dr. Balis: All right, Sharon. Would you like to talk about something else?
Ms. Lough: Rob's ulcer is acting up.
Dr. Balis: Rob has an ulcer?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, he's always had stomach problems. He gave himself an ulcer so he could avoid being drafted during Vietnam--he went on an aspirin and water diet. Usually, he takes Zantac, and that takes care of it. But this past week, he's been moaning and kvetching--you'd think he was ready to die. Wouldn't you know it? Just as his hand got better, his stomach got worse.
Dr. Balis: Has he seen a doctor?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, they diagnosed him with peptic ulcer disease. His insurance didn't cover the prescription-strength Pepcid the Doctors gave him. It costs one hundred dollars a bottle! They also gave him something for pain and told him to eat only bland, soft foods for a few days.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: Of course, Rob ate half a pizza the day after his appointment. He was moaning and clutching his side all night. He's doing penance now; he eats nothing but Saltines, bananas, and applesauce.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Maybe Rob will lose some weight by sticking to the bland diet. I really envy his pain medication.
Dr. Balis: Sharon...
Ms. Lough: I know, I know--I'll stay away from it.
Dr. Balis: Can Rob teach in this condition?
Ms. Lough: No, he took a few weeks off. At first, I liked having him at home because it gave me someone to talk to besides the cat and the rabbit. But he's such a whinny baby, he really gets on my nerves. I'm forever getting his medication, making something for him to eat, doing laundry, and cleaning up after him or the pets. All this domesticity is enough to drive anyone mad.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure Rob appreciates what you do.
Ms. Lough: No, he doesn't. He's been nagging me to go back to work. Rob was even pressuring me to go back to SII when I was still in the wheelchair--it was something about having too much time on my hands. Can you believe that?
Dr. Balis: Don't you feel ready to go back to work?
Ms. Lough: I'm still in a cast, aren't I?
Dr. Balis: Yes, but you've been upgraded, so to speak, to a temporary cast, and you seem to be a lot more mobile now. You're only using one crutch these days. That's a marked improvement from the wheelchair.
Ms. Lough: It's difficult for me to walk, and I tire easily, especially with all the running around I do for Rob. It pisses me off that he has the gall to tell me to get back to work.
Dr. Balis: It's just a suggestion, Sharon. Why does it make you so angry?
Ms. Lough: Because I've been busting my ass waiting on him, and he didn't do a fucking thing for me when I was injured. I had to drive myself to the hospital with a broken foot. He gets a minor infection and a little tummy-ache, and he's acting like the Sultan of Brunei, lying on the couch in all his corpulent glory, demanding that I fetch him this and bring him that.
Dr. Balis: Rob's condition doesn't sound minor...
Ms. Lough: Why do you always take his side?
Dr. Balis: I'm not taking sides, Sharon. I realize you've had major injuries over the past few months, but Rob is also grappling with serious health issues. And he's much older than you are, and these conditions are more debilitating for an older person. I also understand that caring for a sick person can be unpleasant--they can be demanding and irritable. So please keep this in mind. I think this is a good time for you to use the relaxation techniques we've discussed.
Ms. Lough: I have been using them.
Dr. Balis: You have?
Ms. Lough: Okay, maybe not as often as I should, but I try to do it once a week.
Dr. Balis: I'd like you to do them at least once a day, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Okay, okay.
Dr. Balis: Have you heard from Lila?
Ms. Lough: Lila who?
Dr. Balis: Come on, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Fuck her. I hope I never see that little cunt again.
Dr. Balis: Won't you run into her in class?
Ms. Lough: I haven't been going. I went to see Doris, our teacher, at her office to let her know I was still alive. She is really running out of steam. I wonder if she's okay, she looks run down. I tried to talk to her about things I needed for the Shitty Rag, but she looked so tired, I let the subject drop.
Dr. Balis: Have you tried delegating your responsibilities to the other students?
Ms. Lough: No one wants to do any work. Beavis and Butthead can barely write their own names. I can't ask Lila. Camel Toe--that horse-faced woman who can't decide whether she wants to be a ho or just look like one--turned-in some really bad poetry. She offered to help, but I couldn't face the thought of looking at all the folds of her genitalia clearly outlined through her pants, so I told her I didn't need help.
Dr. Balis: Sharon, you didn't even give this woman a chance. She may dress in a manner you find unappealing, but that has no bearing on her ability to assist you.
Ms. Lough: She makes me want to hurl. I don't want to have to look at that old Camel Toe, she's just too repulsive.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: I know what you're thinking--I have painfully bad hair, and yet I have the gall to criticize someone else's appearance.
Dr. Balis: Actually, I was thinking that you are under a lot of pressure right now.
Ms. Lough: The always perceptive, ever compassionate, and politically correct Doctor Balis. You would never scream at me to pull my head out of my ass and get my shit together, no matter how much you might want to.
Dr. Balis: Would you prefer I used a more caustic approach?
Ms. Lough: You'd get better results with a thick-headed numskull like me if you acted more like a drill sergeant.
Dr. Balis: That's a thought, but I think I'll stick with my own technique for now.
Ms. Lough: Yes, just look what great strides you've made with me so far.
Dr. Balis: Therapy is a long process, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: It's a scam, that's what it is. You guys are nothing but third-rate con-artists, even worse than television evangelists and palm readers.
Dr. Balis: But you come back week after week. It must have some value.
Ms. Lough: You're the only constant in my life. You're also the only man in my life who isn't too terribly physically repelling, at least not yet.
Dr. Balis: Thanks for the compliment.
Ms. Lough: Sure. I'll see you next week, okay?
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Bye.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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