Transcript of 7th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Alex Rozzi, Wednesday, July 2, 1997 at 12:00 pm.

Mr. Rozzi: Hey, Doc!
Dr. Balis: Hello, Alex. You've got some good color--you've been out in the sun? How was your week?
Mr. Rozzi: I've been okay, I guess. I'm still pretty upset about Benny, though. It's been on my mind all week, and I've been having trouble again with sleep. So I spent a lot of time walking around the last few nights. Then Ralph took me down the coast for a couple of days during the week. Ralph has this little house in a small town called Bonnie Doon. Ever been there?
Dr. Balis: No, I haven't heard of it before. It's down the coast?
Mr. Rozzi: Yeah. It's a little tiny town tucked away in this old forest near Santa Cruz. It's real pretty and very peaceful. And his house is like a little log cabin. It's way cool! The only problem was that even though it was so quiet and all, I was totally on edge. Even Ralph made a comment about it. We went out to the beach a few times and swam in the ocean. We also hiked up along some cliffs. All that activity and sunshine got to me, and I was able to get to sleep on the last night we were there. That was last Saturday. Then on Sunday, we went to the parade, and that was so fun! Roly came along, too. But Benny was always on my mind.
Dr. Balis: You had no contact with him at all?
Mr. Rozzi: None. But we did run into one of Dora's friends, and she told us that Dora took the baby and left. Roly went over to see Benny on Monday night, and Roly told me that she really is gone. He also told me that Benny still doesn't want to talk to me. It's driving me crazy. When we were at the parade, I saw these religious fanatics protesting and stuff. This one lady had a sign that said something like: "Gays recruit our youth." I was real pissed about it and went straight over to that bitch.
Dr. Balis: Alex, what did you do?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, first of all, I scared Ralph and Roly. They were trying to get me to ignore it or something. But how could I ignore it? It was right there and it called out to me. So I went over to her and asked her to explain something for me. I wanted to know why would all the gay recruiters go only after the ugly guys? Just look around--why are there so many ugly gay guys running around? I mean, if we had the nerve to recruit, did she think that we would pick the ugly ones? Please! If that were true, there wouldn't be a single ugly fag in all the world!
Dr. Balis: An interesting point, Alex. But somehow I don't see it winning the day with this woman. So how did she respond to you?
Mr. Rozzi: She went off and started yelling and screaming at me--I was poisoned by the Devil and stupid stuff like that. She was way worked up over it, and I thought it was so funny how she reacted. So you know what I told her? I said, "You must know that what I said is true, otherwise you wouldn't be so upset over it." By that time, both Ralph and Roly had kind of wandered out of the immediate vicinity--they didn't want be associated with what could have happened next. I'm like--come on! We would have designed a better system of recruitment, you know?
Dr. Balis: Did it escalate?
Mr. Rozzi: Some other people had gathered around by then, and she was still going on and on--that there was still time to change and stuff. It was impossible. But other people started saying things, and others began yelling, and it turned into a mini riot right there. I just sort of pulled myself away, even though it was lots of fun to watch all these people go at it with each other like that. It was so ridiculous. It's so ridiculous, you know? How stupid and ignorant can people really be? Anyway, I heard that after I left, the police broke it up and carted off some of the people. I guess they got the protesters to leave. Hello? It's not like the protesters were outnumbering the gays. I think they put themselves into a very dangerous spot.
Dr. Balis: How did you feel after it was over?
Mr. Rozzi: I don't know. I didn't really think about how I was feeling at the time. Right after we had that confrontation, my stomach was all twisting up in knots, and I had that feeling I get--a rushing sensation where my pulse is pounding and my heart is racing. I didn't like some of the names those people called me or the tone. I just walked up to them in a non confrontational way, just in a matter of fact sort of manner.
Dr. Balis: I'm sure you thought so. But those people were protesting and standing up for their beliefs. Anything you did, from their point of view, would have been interpreted as confrontational. You see?
Mr. Rozzi: You don't actually agree with them, do you?
Dr. Balis: Of course not. But that's not my point here.
Mr. Rozzi: Well? Do I have to drag it out of you?
Dr. Balis: What I'm trying to say, Alex, is that by approaching that woman and questioning her, you put yourself into fairly unpleasant situation and potentially even a dangerous one. It's important that you think about that before you leap on an impulse to defend your position.
Mr. Rozzi: Oh, I know. It's just that sometimes my mouth seems to speak on it's own and gets me into situations.
Dr. Balis: It's certainly something to think over next time, particularly if this is reminiscent of previous experiences you've had.
Mr. Rozzi: Well, it's funny that you bring this up.
Dr. Balis: Why?
Mr. Rozzi: I've noticed that since that night I got the head-butt, I've been leery about things. Apprehensive. I hear my mind telling me not to go in there or do this or that. I find myself less willing to take chances these past few weeks. Even when Ralph and I were hiking, I was hesitating to step forward--I was up on a rock and had a narrow ledge to cross over, but I was all tensed up and couldn't make my feet move. Then I got all shaky, and the heart-pounding thing was going on again, and my palms were sweaty. That's the worst of it--the sweaty palms, you know?
Dr. Balis: Hmm. That can be unpleasent. What did you do?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, I jumped over it and pushed ahead. Ralph had gotten so far ahead of me by then, that I was even more afraid that I'd lose him. So I just forced myself to do it. I hadn't been there before and when I'm out of the city I have no sense of direction. I didn't want to find myself lost.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Rozzi: Getting lost would have been a disaster. One time when I was small and my grandma was still alive, I was at the Galleria with her and Aunt Sofie. I must have been five or six, I'm not sure. Anyway, I decided that I was bored, so I went and climbed into one of those clothes racks--you know, the round ones? There's usually a little ledge or bar in the center, and when clothes are hanging on it, I could climb into it and no one would be able to see me. So I did. I climbed right into it and stayed put, watching while all the adults around me were in a panic calling out my name, searching for me. My mom...uh, grandma, was hysterical! It was way funny!
Dr. Balis: A mischief-maker from way back, eh?
Mr. Rozzi: You bet!
Dr. Balis: Alex, have you talked with your mother this week?
Mr. Rozzi: Only once. She called and left messages a few times. She said that Mark was back in town, and that she wanted to see me. I kept ignoring her, even though Ralph said that I shouldn't. So what does she do? She shows up on the front porch the other night. It shocked me to see her that way.
Dr. Balis: What way?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, she had no makeup on, and her eyes were all puffy, like she'd been crying and stuff. She stayed outside for awhile. And then Ralph went out and talked to her. When he came back in, he practically ordered me to talk to her.
Dr. Balis: Did you?
Mr. Rozzi: Doc, I've never seen her like that before. It was like...okay, who are you and what have you done with my mother?
Dr. Balis: What was so different, other than the makeup?
Mr. Rozzi: She was actually nice to me. Can you believe it? She was nice for once. I suspected that she was up to her usual crap, but she wasn't. She wanted to talk to me about Mark, and she wanted to tell me what happened.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Did she tell you what you wanted to know?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, not exactly. What she did do was bring me some photos of her and Mark together. She was my age and he was unbelievable--I look almost exactly like him! She wants me to come home and talk to him, but I don't know. I'm not even sure that I believe any of it--his story, I mean. It's all so out there, you know? A drug dealer, mob hits, and stuff like that. It was so Mission Impossible. I still don't get why they all lied for so long about it. So she had a baby out of wedlock--big deal! She did drugs--ho-hum! I mean, it's like what you and I talked about last week. Everything would be so much easier if people didn't lie about stuff, you know?
Dr. Balis: I know and I agree. But people do lie, Alex. They do lie. Not everyone and not all the time, but people do. She told you the story and shared some pictures with you. I think this might be a good start for building something more solid with your mother. What do you think?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, I went into the house after she left and told Ralph to pinch me. I thought I had fallen asleep and was dreaming it all. I guess this guy Mark must have talked some sense into her or something. Hey! I just thought of something. You know, Doc, I sort of lied to you last week about something. I told you that Benny had told me he loved me, but he never has. I told him that I wanted to hear him...someone say that they love me, but he wouldn't do it. One time, he wrote in the sand a big heart with an I in front of it and a U at the end of it, but the water washed it away real fast. Funny how symbolic that seems now.
Dr. Balis: I see what you mean. Do you believe that he loved you, even though he never verbalized it?
Mr. Rozzi: He never needed to, really. He seemed to show it all the time with all the things that he did for me. But now I wonder and I'm perplexed by this sudden estrangement. It doesn't make any sense. It would if we had had a fight or something. But the only thing that stands out for me is that time I told you about--when I noticed something different in his eyes when he looked at me. I sensed then that something wasn't right. But I thought it was just me twisting things around again.
Dr. Balis: Alex, one thing that I've learned is to pay attention to your gut feelings when you're dealing with other people. I try to follow my instincts and usually, when I do, I find that things work out well for me.
Mr. Rozzi: I think I'm starting to figure that one out myself. You know what? Ralph told me that he wants me to stay as long as I'd like. He likes my cooking among other things.
Dr. Balis: You cook?
Mr. Rozzi: Had to. Taught myself, too. These past couple of years, if I didn't cook for myself, I would have starved to death. My mom isn't one for regularity, and she's probably the only person I know that's dumb enough to burn water! On Ralph's birthday, I made Beef Wellington with Duchess potatoes. He was so impressed! Cooking comes easy to me. I can't imagine someone screwing up a dish, if they followed the recipe as it was written. Hey, maybe when your birthday comes around, I can make dinner for you? You just tell me what your favorite dish is and I'll make it.
Dr. Balis: So you're really good. And you enjoy it...
Mr. Rozzi: Yeah, I do. When I'm in the kitchen, my mind is clear and relaxed, and I feel good accomplishing something like that. Sometimes when I'm out walking around, I stop over at the California Culinary Academy and dream that one day I might go there and become a chef.
Dr. Balis: Well, Alex, I must say that I'm impressed. I wouldn't have guessed it. Perhaps this is a career path that you ought to consider seriously pursuing.
Mr. Rozzi: I do think about it, Doctor. But I don't think they'd let someone like me in to that place, you know?
Dr. Balis: Why do you think that?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, look at me, Doc. I'm a punk. And I tend to go off sometimes for no good reason.
Dr. Balis: A lot of the chefs that I know have terrible tempers.
Mr. Rozzi: So you're saying that I may fit right in?
Dr. Balis: Perhaps. Don't just dismiss it as an impossibility. This is a good dream you have, Alex, and it would be a shame not to pursue it. You're a very creative individual with a lot of talent and passion. I think you should give serious consideration to trying the culinary field, if you feel the passion for it that you've showed me today.
Mr. Rozzi: Well, I talked to Ralph about it, and he's taking me to the CCA for the grand buffet Thursday night. I'm so excited. He told me that he asked them if we could tour the school while we're there, and they said they'd take us around the place. I can't wait!
Dr. Balis: I look forward to hearing your impressions of CCA. It has a wonderful reputation.
Mr. Rozzi: Yeah.
Dr. Balis: Alex, it looks like we're out of time for today. I'd like to urge you once more to get a physical like we discussed previously.
Mr. Rozzi: Aw, Doctor. I don't really want to. Why do you want me to do that so much?
Dr. Balis: Well, I think we still need to check on some of the symptoms you've been describing--the racing heart, the anxiety attacks. My job would be easier if I knew your doctor's opinion about all that. Would you please go?
Mr. Rozzi: I'll think about it, man. It's just nerves and life and stuff, you know?
Dr. Balis: I know that's what you think it is. Well, then think about it, okay? And Alex? This was a good session today. I'll see you next week.
Mr. Balis: All right, dude, catch you then!
Dr. Balis: Goodbye.
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