Dear Mr. Therapist,
is it just me or does it feel like we’re living a season 8 Game of Thrones type of year. Wait, that’s terrible, let me start over.
Dear Mr. Therapist,
Or shall I say Harold, which is to be honest a weird name for a therapist, but then again you’re not a real therapist, are you? You’re a guy who posted an ad online offering therapeutic services to anyone willing to be therapized for very little money by someone who does not have a degree, but a lot of experience in therapy. And with me being a part time comedian and part time inspirational blogger, thus full time unemployed and broke, I think we’re made for each other.
Today is the 21st of October 2020, the year of “Oh my God what now?”
I never thought that I’d one day write to a “therapist”, but then some friends and former colleagues, my sister, a couple ex-girlfriends, one of them actually being a couple, and one guy I met at the supermarket staged an intervention after I had a bit of a moment during a job interview. I’m sure we’ll get to that. It’s not like I am the standard tumblr picture of a depressed person who posts self-written poetry all over the internet, like I couldn’t help but notice you do.
Not to tell you your business, you are the “therapist”, but I think that it sends a weird vibe to potential clients when the first thing on your facebook wall is a poem called “Sweet mother death, cometh forth to rescue me”. Maybe you’d like to talk to someone about those feelings you’re having. But remember, I am definitely not telling you anything, because that would be like telling my big muscular mechanic that he fixed your car wrong. It’s just going to lead to drama and many different kinds of pain.
So where shall we start? I guess I should introduce myself: My name is Garry, I’m 24 years old and I live in my parent’s attic, which explains their nickname for me: the other one.
We’re having a kind of weird relationship. They’re both extremely successful people, stemming from extremely successful families, and with my big sister living up to the family tradition, having become a renowned astrophysicist, you could say I’m falling short of what glorious path had been laid out for me: Go to school, then to uni, get a job, buy a car, find a wife, build a house, have three children – one of each, then retire and die a beloved father and husband.
Then go to heaven, meet the family again, play in a band with Elvis and John Lennon, blossom in the eternal happiness of nothing bad ever happening, suddenly realizing that the complete absence of consequences is in itself a torture unbinding you from any internal drive to survive since you are, both metaphorically and realistically, dead inside.
Episode #1: Dear Mr. Therapist, my name is Garry. – Dear Mr. Therapist
I never felt like that was my path, since I wanted to become an actor, a singer, a magician, an entertainer. Basically, whatever profession kids use to break their parents hearts. I remember what my parents said when I told them. It’s like it was yesterday:
“Why do you hate us?”
Actually that was yesterday when I was telling them about my therapy.
But back then they said: “Garry, you need to get yourself a degree and when you have that, you’ll find a secure job and you’ll be able to fulfill your dreams.”
But that wasn’t what I wanted. Having had a secure childhood, a gigantic room and all the toys I ever wanted wasn’t enough, so me, little rebellious Garry, decided to show them. What I was intending to show them, no clue, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t, because I ended up studying literature.
Yeah, not quite quite rebellious enough to drop out and make it on my own, but definitely rebellious enough to study something that makes sure I’ll never make it on my own, being a burden forever.
Literature, the pre-existing conditions of degrees. A degree of limited wow-effects: I can read and write about that. I once read the entirety of Effi Briest, the undeniably most boring book of all time, and I lived to tell the tale, so that’s pretty badass, isn’t it? A degree with which, realistically speaking, the job centre will find two places where you could work: School and Ancient Greece.
Naturally, I preferred the short commute and thus tried to become a teacher, landing a replacement gig at my old high school.
Here’s the problem with that decision: I’m not made out to be a teacher. Because teachers need a thick skin. The moment I entered that classroom, I’d be the one teacher we all had who came into the class, shoulders up high, head hanging low avoiding eye contact and everyone knew: “We’re going to ruin that guy’s day. Every day.”
I wasn’t ready to be on the other side of that. So I decided to make an impression on these kids they wouldn’t forget.
What I did was, I remembered an old stand-up comedy routine from John Oliver, in which he told politicians they could make a much greater impression on the people if they used old sports-movies half time speeches. You know these movies, in which the team is down and it looks terrible for them, but then the coach busts out an empowering speech that knocks them into the right place to go out and win after all?
So that’s what I did. I entered the classroom with their essays and one of these big cups of soda in hand. I threw the soda with all my energy. It ricochet off the wall, so that was bad, but then I started my speech, throwing their essays into a corner, pointing at them:
“What was that? You call that an essay? I must be a well known french children’s song because Essay encore une fois. It means try again! Oh my God you’re bad at everything. I tell you when the day comes and one of you is found dead in a motel-shootout, I pray to God that when the police starts wondering what lunatic was their teacher I’m long dead from the heart-attack I got from the time I had to read one of your essays.”
I was let go rather immediately after that. Apparently they preferred the official teacher not being replaced at all to her being replaced by me. And even though I only taught for two weeks, there will always be something in that classroom reminding them of me: the stain from where the soda hit the wall.
Naturally, after that I didn’t really dare to go back to the job-centre, but still wanted to show my parents I was not a completely failed investment. So I did some street-magic for the homeless. Charity! And you’d think the homeless people would be happy, but you should have seen the scenes when I made their coins disappear. I mean carnage!
So there is basically no use for my diploma and an increasingly obvious if unspoken belief within my family that I am “wasting my potential”. I have to disagree with that. I am using a lot of my potential for very smart reasons: I discovered that I can make any boring party more interesting for myself by trying to use as many book-titles as possible in my small-talk.
Because let’s face it, small-talk at parties is the worst and almost impossible. And there is invariably always someone who says something like:
“Oh, I am no longer using social media, the people on there are just tedious.”
Yes, I have quite posh friends. So I respond like this:
“I know, it’s like call me Sisiphos, in One Hundred Years of Solitude would I not have thought my Great Expectations I had when going on twitter would be crushed so directly. I mean I’m just fighting all these windmills and their Hearts of Darkness. But here we are: The Brave New World in which the Lord of the Flies can start The Trial of The Idiot by The Stranger. It’s the Paradise Lost, isn’t it? The Odyssey through the Metamorphosis of the Good Soldier and his Confederacy of dunces into Slaughterhouse Five feeding off the Flowers of Evil to become the man without qualities. What Infinite Jest this all is.”
It’s a great way to end a conversation, as it turns out. And most dates.
So as you can hear, I am a bundle of positivity to everyone who listens to me.
I mean who doesn’t once in a while feel so hopeless that it’s like the world is crushing you beneath its weight all the while your lungs fill up with the shallow water of insecurity and you feel your heart beats as if it was actively trying to escape your body, much like the fading feeling of happiness you last felt as a child?
But otherwise I’m feeling fine. How lucky am I to be this safe during a global pandemic, sheltered away from all my friends of former classmates, some of which are buying houses, getting engaged or pregnant. Oh my God, have I wasted my life trying to become something I never wanted to be in the first place, only to find out what I want at the moment that a global pandemic hits?
So family dinners are fun. My parents will usually say something like: “Have you sent an application to that banking-job? You know you can’t afford to be picky.”
I will respond with: “Is it too much to ask to find a job that doesn’t make me actively want to kill myself?”
To which my dad will respond: “What about passively?”
Now I am aware that I am in no position to be picky about where I will work, essentially my main attributes are hating people, being unbelievably bad with money, having two left hands and a talent for pretending to be more intelligent than I actually am.
So as my mother pointed out, I should be a politician. Her father used to be a politician, and there is always a weirdly daddy-issue-type undertone when she talks about him. According to my dad, that all stems back from when she walked in on him doing to her mom what he was doing to the country. My dad’s words. At the wake.
I guess the inherent drive to always make a wildly inappropriate comment at the worst possible time is a hereditary trait.
We once missed an entire family vacation because at the airport, my father, when being asked by the security guard if he had packed the suitcase himself, saw the brilliant opportunity for a comedy-bit and responded: “No, oh god no, now that you say it, there suddenly was a weird guy in my bedroom asking me if he could me with the suitcase. Well of course I let him do that, though I don’t see the use in transporting such an ugly clock that runs backwards.”
It’s a good thing my father married a genius lawyer.
As a CEO, he is more famous for his gaffes than for his business acumen, you know. In the early 2000’s he spoke at a widely broadcasted conference about the future of marketing. It was a 20 minute speech about how the internet would be temporary and in no way interesting to marketing. That video is still played every christmas party at his company. That’s how he keeps his employees happy, he admits when he’s wrong. Of course he jumped on the bandwagon sooner than later and made a fortune from his online marketing campaigns. Like he always says: “Be smart, but never so smart you can’t go back on what you’ve said.”
There really is no dna-test necessary: I’m my father’s son. I have said and done some very ill advised things at catastrophically inappropriate times:
- As a kid, I tried to make the nutella extra creamy by putting it on the bread before it went in the toaster. I was 16.
- I once ruined a memorial service for a fellow comedian by insisting on telling a “from deadpan to bedpan” joke. Apparently it’s not okay to roast dead people in a crematorium. Damn I wish I had thought of that when they dragged me off.
- I once tried to crowdfund a ghostwriter for my master thesis with a big social media campaign.
- A couple of months ago, I tried to found a political party to become a powerful man and ruin the life of the guy who stole my girlfriend.
- During Lockdown, I was so lonely that I put a wig onto a small electrical piano and called it Key-Ara. Because it was a keyboard, you see. She was the best friend I ever had.
And that’s just from the top of my head. Jesus Christ. Maybe I do need therapy. But then again, I don’t think that half of the incredibly awesome things that happened to me would have happened to me if I hadn’t taken this road. I sometimes wake up screaming at nights remembering the scarring dates I had, but then I have the time of my life telling those stories on stage.
I’m already good at working through bad stuff, maybe a little help with working through the worst stuff might help. So, same time next week?