Transcript of 3rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Hal Mainor, Monday, August 19, 1996 at 10 am.

Mr. Mainor: Hello, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Hal. Long time no see.
Mr. Mainor: Hey, I'm sorry about that. But I was working fine. You know, you really gave me some good advice, so frankly I thought that I was all done, you know? A cured patient I guess is a rarity in your business.
Dr. Balis: I don't mind you deciding that you don't need any more therapy, but I do like to be consulted in the decision. We first talked about four sessions and then an evaluation. I would still like to stick to that plan.
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, well...I went back to try to write some stuff without being so critical. It works. You can really write a substantial chunk of material and then go back and hack it to bits, but still be left with something. It's much better than just writing a paragraph and then crossing it out.
Dr. Balis: Did you change the genre that you're writing in?
Mr. Mainor: No, I decided to stick with Westerns. But I sort of updated the formula. I really think I'm on to something. Anyway, you can see why I didn't think it was important that I continue my sessions.
Dr. Balis: And the drowning feeling?
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, it's mostly gone. It was important that I just feel like I was doing some creative work. All I had to do was get out of my rut.
Dr. Balis: That's great. I'm really glad things are working out so well for you, Hal.
Mr. Mainor: I'm not saying my problems have gone away. Actually, they've all sort of changed. Before I was just a narcissist worried about whether or not I could still write. But now I've gotten myself into some real trouble.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Mr. Mainor: You have to understand that I was trying to move myself out of the rut that I was in. I thought I just had to make some changes to jog loose the creative juices. Well, I went and did something that was incredibly stupid.
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Mr. Mainor: I had an affair with my boss.
Dr. Balis: I can see how that might be problematic.
Mr. Mainor: I feel like such an asshole. My father always told me that you don't shit where you eat, you know? But now I get to take direction from a woman who I've seen writhing on my lap.
Dr. Balis: Are you upset that you had an extramarital affair or that you had an affair with your boss?
Mr. Mainor: It does sound like I'm a cad, doesn't it? I've never had an affair before, and I'm terrified that my wife is going to find out. Every time I touch her, I worry about her being able to sense that something is wrong, that I'm different somehow. I look into her eyes and when she looks back searchingly, I think that she must be able to see something, so I look away guiltily. Then I realize what I've done and feel that I've made it worse, so I look at her again to see whether she noticed. Frankly, it wasn't worth it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Mainor: And then it's my boss, too. When I'm at work, I get to worry about whether the other people in my department know. Can they tell by the way I look at her or talk to her. I'm the world's worst poker player. I'm sure that anyone who looked at me could see it written all over my face. She's great. You'd never be able to tell by looking at her. It is exactly like nothing ever happened. I mean, she doesn't give anything away, even when we're sort of alone together.
Dr. Balis: Is this an encounter that you're looking to repeat?
Mr. Mainor: Oh, Jeez. No way. Actually, I can't believe this is something that I did. Of course I've thought about sleeping around before. I've been married, what, seventeen years? I drive home and sometimes go through the Tenderloin. On some corners, the hookers are three and four at a time. A lot of them look like they're really guys, you know? But occasionally I'll see one that will just make an electric shock go through me. You know, that feeling where your toes curl. There's something about knowing that a girl will sleep with you for fifty bucks or something. You have to understand that I love my wife very much. But I had to give up so much to get her--what with the kids and all the responsibility and everything. But you could pay fifty bucks to one of these girls...well, I've thought about it, anyway.
Dr. Balis: Have you acted on it?
Mr. Mainor: No, of course not! I'm talking about fantasy here, Doctor. I'm not saying that I'd do something. I'd probably catch something. I mean those girls are turning trick after trick after trick. They probably see more action with different people in a night than I have in my whole life. So, I'm just talking.
Dr. Balis: Why do you bring them up?
Mr. Mainor: I was just saying that I'd thought about having affairs before. Every guy has, I bet. But I wasn't going to do anything about it. But then I'm working late one night, real late actually. I guess it's about ten thirty or eleven. Well, my boss turns human. She's always been good looking, but she's kind of hard, you know? I'm sure it's difficult for a woman executive and all that, so there's some overcompensation, I figure. I never held it against her. There's guys that talk about ball busting and stuff, but she's always been fair, just tough. She's not the kind of boss that you'd feel comfortable asking out for a beer or asking for a raise either, for that matter. But she's always willing to pass out the praise when there is any. In any case, it was late and she asked me if I wanted to get some coffee or something. I figured sure, you know. Get a piece of pie or something. So we head over to this diner. And we start to talk, just like two humans, you know. Not like she was my boss. And she's interested in my writing. Well, after coming here I've been writing again--thank you very much. So I'm sort of enthusiastic about talking about fiction and my westerns. And she's really interested. I could tell that she wasn't just pasting a smile on for my benefit. She was really interested in what I was saying. So I told her the story I'm working on and she liked it. So I told her some of the old stories and she really liked them. Her eyes were sparkling and she was paying attention--asking really good questions that revealed different aspects of the characters, stuff like that. It was definitely cool to have somebody interested in my work again. And for it to be my boss...I guess I was flattered. Sure I was, more than a guess. I was thinking that this was going to mean a promotion or something.
Dr. Balis: You were thinking about how this was going to affect you professionally?
Mr. Mainor: No, no, that's not it. Well, maybe a little, but that isn't what it was like. We were really connecting as people, you know? If that made her think of me as more valuable too, that was great. But that wasn't what it was about.
Dr. Balis: Please go on. I shouldn't have interrupted you.
Mr. Mainor: Well, I'm just trying to say that I wasn't looking to have an affair or something. I'm not virgin pure, you understand. I have thoughts and fantasies too. But I'd never slept with a woman since I got married. Actually, about five years ago, I was on some sort of business trip and I met this woman in the airplane. We got to talking and by the end of the trip, we were necking. It was really exciting. But I kept on trying to get her to come with me to the bathroom and she wouldn't do it. And somehow she avoided actually coming up with her phone number, so I never saw her again. That was as close as I ever came before.
Dr. Balis: Do you think you would have had sex with her if she had agreed to go back with you to the bathroom?
Mr. Mainor: Being honest? I think there's no question I would have done it. I mean I don't get those kind of opportunities every day and it really doesn't have anything to do with my wife. This girl wasn't even particularly attractive, actually. Just easy. I was on a trip and free for a while and I would have slept with her if she'd let me. But she didn't, so I was true to my marriage.
Dr. Balis: Did you have problems facing your wife when you got back from that business trip?
Mr. Mainor: You mean problems because I kissed that girl? No, of course not! That wasn't real. I don't know how to put it, but that didn't cross the line, you know? I mean, coming home last Wednesday night, I had to wash my dick in the sink and worry about whether it smelled like my boss. That definitely crossed the line.
Dr. Balis: So how did it happen with Sylvia?
Mr. Mainor: Whoa! How did you know her name was Sylvia?!
Dr. Balis: You must have mentioned it.
Mr. Mainor: I did not! I've been really careful not to use her name.
Dr. Balis: Well, you described her as your boss and you must have mentioned her in a previous session.
Mr. Mainor: I doubt that, actually. To tell you the truth, she hasn't been a very important figure in my life up to now.
Dr. Balis: Well, I also have a personnel chart of SII. I've looked it over and seen who heads each of the departments. I must have just put two and two together.
Mr. Mainor: Hmm.
Dr. Balis: You were talking about how the event occurred?
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, was nice talking to someone who cared about what I was doing, and who understood some of the technical issues that I deal with. That's different than my wife too, who doesn't understand and doesn't give a shit. She's just not going to work to understand some technical issues about what I'm doing. She's all "That's nice, Dear" but she's not really interested. But Sylvia understands the technical issues and was interested in my fiction writing. So when she asked me if I wanted a lift must have been midnight, now. When she asked, I asked her if we could go the scenic route. So we kept talking and wound up on Twin Peaks. There's a scenic lookout there and if you park in just the right space, you can look directly down Market Street, with the Castro district in front and the Ferry Building at the far end. It was all lit up and really nice, so I asked her if I could kiss her. I just came out with it, just like that. It felt like the bravest thing I'd ever done, but of course she was giving me plenty of signals. From there on, it was really easy. She was very accommodating, even when she had to sit with the steering wheel pressed into her back. About forty minutes later, I was washing my dick in the sink.
Dr. Balis: How has your relationship been with your wife?
Mr. Mainor: Do you mean before or after this?
Dr. Balis: You haven't told her. She hasn't found out about this, right?
Mr. Mainor: That's true. I don't think she suspects exactly, except that I'm acting so weird.
Dr. Balis: That's the furtive looks you were talking about?
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, and it's like my style of making love has changed somehow. I mean we develop a pattern--maybe more like a rut--in the way that we make love. It's familiar and comfortable. But Sylvia's disrupted the pattern for me. Now, I move wrong or something. It just seems different.
Dr. Balis: Your wife would be very upset if she found out the truth?
Mr. Mainor: Oh, Jeez. She just can't. I really blew it. I mean we really love each other and always have. This is the kind of thing that would totally shatter it for her. She'd question every tenet of our marriage, my love, her love, whether we should stay together, the nature of truth and betrayal...all that stuff. It would really fuck up everything.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, we're out of time Hal. Let me see you again next Monday at 10 am and we can talk this thing through. I'm sure that we can figure out appropriate next steps. But my advice to you is don't repeat the affair. Follow Sylvia's lead and pretend like it never happened at work. And don't try to sleep with Sylvia again. A one time indiscretion in the heat of passion is a very different thing than a continuing series of liaisons with plenty of time for cool reflection between them.
Mr. Mainor: I'm not looking for any more, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I'll see you next week then, Hal. Good luck.
Mr. Mainor: Thanks, Doc.
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