Writing :: Humor/Entertainment

The Wisdom of Dr. Jeffrey Gladstone- page 4

G: You know, Harry, if I photograph a drop of milk striking a surface, you would look at it and comment "that is a drop of milk striking a surface," perhaps shrugging your shoulders as if to indicated non-verbally "Who cares?" But if I enlarge that photograph many times, there will come a point in the enlargement process when the milk drop is no longer clearly visible as a milk drop. That is the edge of ambiguity. Then your perceptions are free to bounce, because they are liberated from the bonds of the milk drop experience. You might see wild and beautiful white shapes; they might become clouds as you continue to stare; or swans sweeping gracefully across the sky. So you can open your perceptions by spilling milk – you don’t have to cry over spilt milk any longer. But Harry, you cannot use just anything: you know the Mobil Oil commercial in which Brooke Shields’ skin is enlarged 1000 times and ends up looking like a filthy carburetor? The point is that anything enlarged 1000 times can look like a carburetor. Human skin is too emotionally loaded to serves as a focus for this experiment. You will only see skin or carburetors and perhaps some filth. Nothing in between. Do not use double chins either.

S: I’ll have to try that.

G: You will find it quite provocative, Harry. By the way, I understand that you do a significant portion of the vacuuming in your home?

S: That’s true. It’s not my favorite job, but I do it a lot.

G: Would you like me to tell you how you might make it more meaningful and less of a burden on your psyche?

S: I would be interested in hearing about it.

G: You must find new dimensions of awareness within the task. First of all, forget about vacuuming. Let’s take sweeping, an activity which is even more inherently boring and ungratifying. What you must do is reorient your perceptions. Look at the broom handle and move closer until the grain of the wood begins to entrance you. You are now on the edge of ambiguity. Spend two minutes at the edge. Then as you sweep shift your attention from the motion of the broom to the way your feet contact the floor. Vary the pressure you exert on the broom so that the bristles are resting lightly on the floor and commence to dance with it, a la Fred Astaire. Bend your knees. Point your toes. Roll your neck. Being to sing wildly. Feel the line of movement from your arms on the broom handle down through the bristles onto the floor. If you become inexplicably depressed doing all this, open all the windows and poke your head out, and then announce in a bold and stentorian tone, "I love life and I want to live." You must control yourself however. You might find yourself trying to sweep everywhere you go. But this is not something that one can do on the Jersey coast. I knew two crazed sweepers who attempted to cleanse the shore of sand. They were institutionalized and diagnosed as suffering from terminal gout.

S: I think that some of your suggestions will be difficult to implement.

G: Harry, don’t be a drag. I will have to prod you gently with a fork, leaving imprints on your midriff. Just joking, of course.

S: Is that an example of your controversial brand of psychotherapy that I’ve been reading about lately?

G: Yes, Harry, I specialize in a rare form of psychotherapy. It is called DISRUPTIVE THERAPY. I try to say jarring things to a client at a propitious moment so that he or she will suddenly see a different world-view.

S: Can you give us an example of the way in which you might do that?

G: Of course. Supposed I have a client who comes into my office and says, "Dr. Jeffrey, I feel so miserable today and I don’t know why." So I say, "It is because you a total sleazebag." They are shocked. I wait 3 seconds and then say "Just joking" and slap my thigh and laugh uproariously. You would be amazed at the results.

S: So they know you’re just kidding them, but for a moment, they take you seriously.

G: Yes, and that is where the therapeutic growth comes. It is the combination of the worst fear being confirmed (Oh my God, I knew I was a sleazeball) and the absurdity of thinking that way (he’s laughing: of course I’m not a sleaze, I am a wonderful and fully actualized, self-motivated, responsible, conscientious, dependable, certifiable, and centered human being; I am cured and will now be able to save the world as I have always wanted to). But I make sure that my clients are unarmed when they enter the office. On occasion, disruptive therapy makes them want to reach out and shoot someone.

S: So you accentuate to clients’ worst fears and then make it a joke?

G: Yes, Harry, I am convinced that this brings up their vulnerability and allows a small window for change through which I pass quickly, unannounced, foiling their defensive home security system for the soul. I must disarm the alarm mechanism, if you follow my metaphor.

S: Dr. Jeffrey, I’m having a hard time following you. But let’s talk to some listeners and see if they have any questions for you about disruptive psychotherapy or if they want you to help them over the phone.

G: Sounds good to me Harry. Shoot. Just joking!

C: Dr. Jeffrey, I have a problem. I keep worrying that people are looking at me in a funny way.

G: They are. You have ring around the collar. Just joking!

C: Thank you Dr. Jeffrey. I am totally cured!

G: Not so fast, young man. You have one other item to contend with. How is your sex life, if I may ask?

C: Why, it’s fine…I think.

G: It will end tomorrow. Just joking! Got you that time, right?

C: That did give me a bit of a start. OK. Thank you, Dr. Jeffrey.

S: I can see that you have to be very careful in doing disruptive therapy.

G: Yes Harry, I always do it barefoot. I feel connected to the ground when I have no shoes on. In fact, I also vacuum best and wash dishes with great intensity when I am barefoot. I also swim well barefoot.

S: Let’s get back to the calls. Hello, you’re next on WRKO.

C: Hi Dr. Jeffrey?!?

G: Is this Chris on the phone? Chris from New Zealand?

C: No, my name is Bob.

G: Oh, for a second there, I thought I recognized your voice. Bob, go ahead, proceed.

C: I’m really nervous about asking out this girl: she’s real popular and I’m afraid she won’t like me. Can you tell me something I can do so I won’t be so uptight around her?

G: Bob, the problem is your breath. Also, tell me: what deodorant have you been using lately? Just joking. Bob, just joking. Actually, you secretly crave being treated like dirt. Just joking!!

C: Oh, OK, Oh, I see. Thanks a lot. (hangs up)

G: You see, Harry, Bob is confused right now. But that is good. He will have his insight later on in the day, perhaps while drinking a cup of herbal tea.

S: Speaking of which, I would like you to share with us some of your profound nutritional insights you spoke of earlier.

G: You are perhaps referring to the science of Acufeeding, which I invented. I will be happy to give you my famous food sensitivity diet. I call it FOUR DAYS TO SANE EATING THROUGH ACUFEEDING. It goes like this: on the first day, you must ingest massive quantities of hearts of palm au vinaigrette, accompanied by steamed kidneys, lima beans, and diced apricots. For snacks, canned kidney beans and Spam are recommended. Drink two quarts of rennet custard a day, but do not let it cool. On the second day, you can only inhale odors of certain steamed foods: for example, make a pot of Postum and sniff it, leaving your nose _" from the rim of the cup. On the third day, you might be consumed with erotic thoughts. You must then go back to the combination of Spam and rennet custard of the first day; you are permitted to eat Sara Lee chocolate cake, provided that you sprinkle tartar sauce and horseradish on it. Finally, it will help to do Geezel Mediation: lie in a fetal position and repeat silently to yourself "Geezel, Geezel, Geezel." This will take care of some of the erotic overload.

S: I’ve heard that many of your ideas have been nurtured by first your father and then your wife. Would you care to comment on that?

G: Yes Harry, I will be happy to share all this. My father is a very compelling man. People used to call him Father Gladstone, even though he is not a priest – that is because he is the quintessential father figure. He doles out advice and insight wherever he goes. He smokes a small cigar and is constantly flicking it, so you must be careful that you do not catch on fire if you are in his presence. He was always saying "Jeffrey boy" to me when I was young – and even now, he calls me "Jeffrey boy" rather than Dr. Jeffrey. He gave me important advice, such as "Jeffrey boy, not to overdo" when he thought I was getting too intense; and he would exclaim, "Jeffery boy, do it complete" when he felt my attention lagging. And when I came up with a new idea, he would always praise me: "Very creative, Jeffrey boy."

Sometimes I call my wife Mrs. G. And I also refer to her as "the little woman". People told me that this was chauvinistic. But I reply, after all, she is only 4 feet 11 inches tall, so she is a little woman. And anyway, I say it with affection. I pose the following question: is chauvinism in the words on in the spirit? Sometimes, Mrs. G. accuses me of making chauvinistic remarks when I say things like "women are more sensitive than men." She says that it is too stereotypical a statement. So I respond with "Women are brutish, insensitive, loutish human beings." But she doesn’t like that either. Then of course, I say, "Just joking."

Mrs. G. is small of stature, but she has enormous lungs. The significance of that is that her occupation is the lead tuba player for the Philadelphia Philharmonic. There is no such orchestra? It is just forming. The conductor is Seiko Omega.

My wife’s brother is strange. He is a waiter at a French restaurant. Whenever he brings you something, he says "Excuse me" to get your attention; then he says "Thank you." He always starts with "excuse me" and ends with "thank you." Last week, we ate there and I tried an experiment: I complimented him on something and he said, "Thank you." Once he said that, he became self-conscious and said, "Excuse me"; of course then he had to say "Thank you" again. Now he was all confused and went back and forth between "Excuse me" and "Thank you" until I rapped him sharply on the left temple with a bread stick and snapped him out of it.

S: Perhaps you should have used disruptive psychotherapy on him?

G: That might have been equally effective.

S: I heard also that you might want to run for president.

G: I would like to do this, Harry. But before I explain my candidacy, I would like to ask you to ponder the following question: what keeps us from rolling out of bed each night? You see Harry, I believe that we are always a little bit worried about this, so that we tense up slightly in our sleep to keep in the bed. We are unaware of this tension, but it is robbing us of the depth of the sleep we truly need. So my platform is platform beds! I will design a special bed which will send out electrical messages to the skin in your arms and legs whenever you get too close to the edge. That way, you won’t have to engage in subconscious worry any longer. Harry, with me as President, people will be able to finally get that special rest they have always needed. No longer will people fall out of bed and have to cover up that black eye by pretending they foolishly walked into a door.

S: Well, you certainly have my vote, Dr. Jeffrey.

G: Thank you, Harry. Good to be here.

S: Good to have you here.

G: Good to be here.

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