No Trespassing

 

The nurse told me that the doctor would return in a few minutes to complete my examination; I knew thirty minutes would be the time of my isolation. I was naked under the white smock, and a slight chill set in after several minutes. I was tempted to plug in the portable electric heater standing in the corner of the room, but an ancient fear of touching the doctor’s equipment held me in check. There was so much to touch in the room, but each piece of stainless steel bore a vivid, yet invisible warning label, ‘do not touch, danger.’

The floor was cold beneath my bare feet, but I walked over to the white enameled scale, and I stepped on the rubber platform – much warmer. Do I dare touch the setting of brass weights? I listened for sounds in the hallway, and hearing none, I gently moved the brass marker to 175 pounds – wishful thinking. The bar didn’t budge. In order to salvage some pride, I moved the marker to 200 pounds, and the bar smashed to the bottom of the balance. Slowly I inched the marker toward the 190 mark, 189, 188, 187 ½ and achieved equilibrium at 186 pounds. The smock was a good ½ pound, but the 172 pound Cornell freshman was lost forever.

Once the initial trespass was committed, the property was mine to explore. I knew my height had not changed during the past 15 years, buy I raised the measuring bar to the six-foot level, pulled the extension over the head, and with a firmly arched back I touched the metal. Six feet tall was magical meaning, especially for those of us who actually measure five foot eleven and three quarters inches. Textbook posture can generate that extra quarter inch, and as a consequence – manhood.

The white enameled clock on the wall allowed me ten more minutes of uninterrupted adventure. Just to the right of the scale was a stainless steel bracket holding the blood pressure cuff. Above the cuff was the mercury filled tube which has given us our first visual contact with our heart, and life itself. Each movement of the mercury column reflects the vigor of our heart, our blood, our stamina, life span – everything. Only the doctor and his staff know that the initial precipitous drop of mercury is harmless – meaningless. For me, the mercury descent is pure terror. Relief comes when the column starts to beat and hold it’s own against the forces of gravity.

There was no time to put on the cuff, and I didn’t know how anyway, but I yearned to squeeze the black rubber ball dangling from the cuff. I squeezed the ball and looked to see if the cuff would inflate. Nothing happened. I squeezed again, but then realized that the shiny valve above the ball was probably closed. To turn the valve, I had to commit two hands to the forbidden property – one for the bulb and one for the valve. That was a commitment not to be made lightly. A single hand touch might be perceived as accidental. A gentle squeeze could be appreciated as innocent curiosity.  A two handed grasp could only be interpreted as possession. If caught how could I suggest that I was only accidentally touching and only gently squeezing the bulb. Not even our beloved family physician could accept such a deceit. Such private monologues have tied me up in knots throughout my life, and have disallowed innumerable fantasies and lusts.

I heard a door close, and I rushed back to the examining table and assumed the exact position I held when the doctor last saw me. Fortunately my blood pressure was not being taken, or I would have registered dead, or at least dying. No one came in. The doctor must have entered the examining room next to mine because I was able to hear him say,

“Look Sylvia, if you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight – if you eat less, you will lose weight – it’s that simple”

I smiled to myself, “What a jackass.” If there was one thing I have learned after ten years in the psychotherapy business, it was that there was nothing – absolutely nothing simple about fat. Only my doctor’s thinking was simple. Doctors are inclined to see the insurmountable as simple, or at least worth a try. If you fail, call for another appointment.

Five minutes to go before that inevitable ‘cough’ test. I believe it is a test for a rupture, or hernia, or perhaps sterility. My doctor will hold my teste, ever so gently, and ask me to cough. I will cough ever so gently. “Again please.” Why again? Did I not cough loud enough? I fear that loudness is not the criteria for success, but rather vigor. My cough has to stimulate my teste to action. I’ll be damned if I’ll cough strong enough so that my privates will smash into my doctor’s hand. “Again please, Tom.” Obediently I will cough again, and he will say fine. To me the second cough is always a replica of the first, but it works and he lets me go.

Four minutes and no time to waste. On the white enameled cabinet was a tray of instruments. Some were all stainless steel, and others had jet black handles, laced with stainless steel hooks, twists, knobs. Pincers, knives, probes, and jars of liquid and containers of band-aides and gauze. My first Gilbert Erector Set paled against such as assortment of hardware. The round black tubular instrument with a cone-shaped top fascinated me. That tool had intrigued me, when first it was first stuck in my ear. Through the hole at the top, the doctor would peer and see things. I had just forty-five seconds to go, and with complete abandonment I grabbed the instrument and peered through the peephole. I saw light. Is that what he saw when he looked into my ear and through my brain? Of course not. I know better. What he did see was a field of potatoes! During my childhood, ear wax was potatoes. “Tommy, clean those potatoes out of your ears”, my mother would command. Why potatoes? Why not! In a childhood filled with cabbage patch births, fish for brains, and milk baths, why not starch your ears!

Suddenly, the door opened, and I dropped the ear thing onto the tray. It was the nurse. She smiled and announced that the doctor was delayed but he would come in a moment. She turned and left, closing the door. She saw me, I knew it. I knew she saw me holding the ear thing. I was trembling. I had never been caught so red-handed except for behaviors of a much more personal nature. Her smile told me she saw me with the medical instrument in my non-sterile hand. I had the audacity to hold Hippocrates staff, and I had never even entered a medical school building. Would she tell the doctor? Would she tell him I was holding the ear thing? I immediately checked the scale to reassure myself that I had replaced the brass weight and the height bar. Damn it, the height bar was up and extended. I quickly ran to the scale and replaced the brass weight at the zero mark and re-positioned the height bar. I felt as if I had ransacked the entire room. Why did I do it? For once I allowed my curiosity to overcome my timidity, and I was caught. I had trespassed, and coveted my doctor’s ear thing and I was quite upset, but even more than that I had to go to the bathroom. In that frigid temperature, my bladder had finally reached critical mass. I went to the door, opened it, and met my doctor face to face.  The nurse told him; even though he looked serene, actually quite friendly. I just knew he was vexed, and concerned about the sterility of the ear thing. He asked me what I wanted, and I informed him that I needed to go to the bathroom. He asked if I had given a urine sample, and I said I hadn’t. He told me to use one of the empty bottles in the bathroom for a sample of urine. I said yes and started to walk down the corridor, but I stopped and called to him.

“Doctor, I’m sorry I touched the ear thing.” He said, “I know”, and he went into an examining room and closed the door.

It took me approximately twenty minutes to fill the sample jar.

The Lawful Traffic Violation

 

 

Location: Hillside Ave. Cresskill, N.J. Approx. 2:30 am. November night.

Cast: Town policeman,and Tom, a resident of a neighboring town.

Tom is driving toward his home when he sees in his rear view mirror the flashing lights of a police car. Tom pulls over to the side of the avenue. After several moments,the Policemen approaches the car shinning a flashlight into the face of Tom.

Policeman:  May I see your  drivers license?

Tom: Officer, did I do something wrong?

Policeman:  Your license please.

Tom: Certainly. ( he removes his wallet from his jacket pocket.  The officer moves  a step back from the door of the car,and places his right hand on his holster. Tom removes the license from the wallet and hands it to the officer.)

Policeman: ( The officer reaches out for the license, while still standing away from the car. Officer reads the information on the license). Do you know the speed limit on this street?

Tom: Yes.

Policeman: What is it, Mr. Tom Niller?

Tom: Miller, that’s Miller.

Policeman: It says Niller.

Tom: I know officer, but they made a typing error.

Policeman: Do you have another form of identification? (Miller reaches for his wallet). Forget it. Let me see your auto registration.

Tom: Well this isn’t my car. It’s my fathers car. I am just using it for several days.

Policeman. The registration please. ( Miller hands over the registration. Officer is looking at the registration.) What is the speed limit on this road, Mr. Miller?

Tom: I believe it is 25 miles per hour.

Policeman:  Do you know what speed you were driving?

Tom: About 25 miles per hour. Sometimes  I was driving slower, but mostly I was going 25 miles per hour.

Policeman:  How come?

Tom: What?

Policeman:  How come you were driving exactly 25 miles per hour?

Tom: Well it wasn’t exactly 25, but that is the speed limit, isn’t it?

Policeman:  Yes it is, but that’s not the point. Why were you driving at 25 mph.?

Tom: That’s the limit officer. I don’t understand what you want.

Policeman: Have you ever been on this road before?

Tom: Yes.

Policeman:  How fast have you driven before?

Tom: Probably the same as tonight.

Policeman:  Never 30, or 40 or maybe 55 mph?

Tom: No, I don’t speed.

Policeman:  And why did you signal a left turn?

Tom: Because I was going to turn left, sir.

Policeman:  Was there any car near you, or behind you?

Tom: I didn’t notice.

Policeman: Well, there wasn’t . I was watching you, and there wasn’t another auto in sight.

Tom: Officer, I don’t understand all the questions. What did I do wrong?

Policeman:  Maybe nothing, and maybe more than you think.

Tom: What are you talking about? Are you going to ticket  me, because if not, I want to go home.

Policeman: Relax, Mr. Miller. Do you mind stepping out of the car?

Tom: Why?. Tell me why do I have to leave my car?

Policeman: Mr. Miller, please do as I say. It’s just routine.

Tom: It’s not  routine in my town.

Policeman: There is no need to get wise.

Tom: I’m sorry, but this is really ridiculous.

Policeman: Please step out of the car.

(Tom opens the door and steps onto the roadway. The Policeman shines the flashlight on the front seat, and on the floor of the drivers side of the auto.)

Tom: May I go now officer?

Policeman: Please empty your pockets, Mr. Miller.

Tom: Why?

Policeman: Just empty your pockets, Mr. Miller.

Tom: No way am I emptying my pockets. Forget it!

Policeman: Are you refusing my request for you to empty your pockets?

Tom: You better believe it, and furthermore….

Policeman: Alright then, will you please open the trunk?

Tom: What the hell are you doing?

Policeman: I simply want you to empty your pockets, or at least open your trunk.

Tom: Well I refuse to do either, and are you giving a ticket or I’m going home.(Tom starts to re-enter his car).

Policeman: (somewhat pleading) No wait. Don’t go back into your car. I just want to be sure that you are not carrying drugs, that’s all.

Tom (Nervous): Well why didn’t you ask me. No I’m not carrying any drugs.

Policeman: How do I know that?

Tom: Because I told you. You just have to take my word for it.

Policeman: But you were driving very suspiciously, do you realize that?

Tom: I was driving at the speed limit, and I signaled at turns. What is suspicious about that.

Policeman:  It is never done on this road. No one drives under 35mph. Unless they see a police car. And as for signaling, your last turn doesn’t even require a signal, but you did anyway . How come?

Tom: I’m a very defensive driver, especially when I feel defensive. (Tom realizes that he may have made a fatal admission).

Policeman: You’re right, Mr. Miller. If I was carrying drugs I would drive very defensively, and obey all traffic rules.

Tom: But I’m not carrying any drugs.

Policeman: I know that, I was just thinking that your careful, slow driving was something I would do if I was carrying drugs – just thinking.

Tom: Officer you sound like a decent guy. All I want to do is go home.

Policeman: You will go home. I didn’t say you were under arrest did I?

Tom: Officer I am really sorry if I did something wrong. If I did please write the ticket and let me go.

Policeman: One last time. Mr. Miller are you in possession of any illegal substance or any paraphernalia?

Tom: Sir, I have no drugs or anything else.

Policeman: Is that the truth?

Tom: Yes, honestly.

Policeman: You can go, Mr. Miller. But I must tell you that you were mighty close to crossing the line.

Tom: What line?

Policeman: I don’t think I have to say more. Goodnight Mr.Miller.

(Tom gets into his car and drives slowly away. In his rear view mirror he sees the officer making a U-turn with red lights blazing, chasing a car on the avenue.)

Target Practice Revisited

For many years, the traditional target used by the military for practice has been a series of concentric circles. In the center a “bull’s eye”. For police training, the typical target used at indoor and outdoor gun ranges has been a full body form. Sometimes a head, and /or a torso.

In an attempt to lessen the deadly results of police shootings, I would suggest that the police adopt a target that contains just arms and legs. Specifically, the arms would begin just at the shoulder and extend to the fingertips of both arms. As for the legs, the targets would begin at the top of the thigh and extend to the tips of the toes. After sufficient practice, a trained police officer would automatically shoot not to kill, but to maim- wound in the extremities.

The culprit would certainly be hurt, perhaps not fall, but several other bullets on the arms and legs should disable any person. The revised targets would allow relatives on both sides of the gun to sleep more comfortably, knowing that the ‘perb’ is not dead, and the police officer is not a murderer.

Out of Sight – Out of Mind

In Newton, Connecticut, five and ten year old children were shot not once, but multiple times with a .223 caliber bullet.

“When the Bushmaster .223 Caliber Assault Rifle hit human targets it tumbled forward into tissue and shattered creating large, internal woulds…Another “nice touch” was that the bullet would sometimes ricochet off bone and bounce around inside the body, shattering into tiny hard-to-remove fragments (which promoted internal bleeding) and ripping sizable hunks of internal tissue away. A human being can die a slow and horrible death from internal bleeding.” (copy from Blowback.223 by Dale Steinreich. www. lewrockwell.com/orig/steinreich6).

Dare to imagine the consequences of such an attack on the body of a child. The children were massacred, mutilated and not simply killed. Dare to stay with such images and contrast such imagery with the concerns of protecting gun ownership, second amendment rights and yes, a “well regulated Militia”.

March 22, 2013

Signs of Danger Missed – Again

 

Monday, February 27, 2012 , T.J. Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22 caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol to Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio. He killed three students and wounded two other students.  Why? What motive? Who knew something that day, or days before, or months and years before that deadly day? What were the signs of danger? Perhaps an abusive home life, a psychopath, a loner, friendless, bullied and dozens of other possibilities. The events of that Monday remind one of the Red Lake Massacre in March, 2005. Jeffrey Weise, age 16, killed 10, and wounded 7.

At Red Lake Minnesota,  2005 , a 16 year old kills five students, a security guard, a teacher, his grandfather, the grandfather’s companion, wounded seven others, and then he commits suicide. We all are stunned by the violence of his actions, and once again we ask how come we missed the danger signs. In fact, the danger signs were not missed at all, but rather many foreboding events were clearly noted by various persons, including peers, authorities, educators, and family members. The following are some of the danger signs reported after the horror.

The child’s stepaunt stated that the school or authorities could see the event coming in that,”the clues were all there….but did they not put two and two together? This kid was crying out, and those guys chose to ignore it…”

The high school principal, “…felt like this was a troubled young man, and someone whose problems we felt like we were addressing.”

Internet pen pals reported that they missed warning signs including a gory zombie, Columbine references, a killer who committed suicide, and his statement that he might disappear unexpectedly. On various internet postings, the child used German words translated to mean: forsaken, abandoned, death’s head, and skull. He reported taking anti-depressants, seeing a therapist, and he had new cuts on his wrists. He stated, “The law of existence requires uninterrupted killing…So that the better may live.”

During the prior school year the child claimed to have been accused of threatening to “shoot up” the school. The school principal declined to confirm such an event.

An internet administrator reported that the child wrote that his mother physically and verbally abused him. He wrote an internet story depicting a character dressed all in black, a teacher with a Hitleresque moustache, and references to the Columbine shootings.

Another adult resident of the community, and cousin of one of the victims stated, “There were a lot of signs of real trouble…and he had said last year that he was to kill himself. But somehow I was never scared of him. I don’t know why not. He never really showed that it could be directed this way.”

Fellow students saw his drawings of people with bullet holes in their heads, half-living people with blank stares and skeletons. “He was different, you could say, out of place around here.”

The likelihood is that as the investigation unfolds there will be other ‘signs’ of danger that will be revealed.  Other recollections by friends, family and information retrieved from his computer will torment us as to the possibility that the killings could have been avoided. Dr. Katherine S. Newman of Princeton University suggests that, “it is exceedingly difficult to see these kids coming, to put it together and see the pattern.”

Putting it together from such disparate, non-communicative sources is not only difficult, but often impossible. Only after the fact are we sometimes able to comprehend the behavior of a child so pathetically disturbed. How and when would the various reporters encounter one another, and share their information? What is the likelihood of informed collaboration between a website administrator, internet pen pals, a school principal, a stepaunt, community residents, and therapist? How much, if any, information could have been gleaned from the Grandfather and his companion? Why were they killed? What was happening in his Grandfather’s home?

Everyday we read of killings, by children, adults, men and women.  We are often left to wonder why the deaths couldn’t be predicted and hence avoided. Observations of children’s behavior are often disturbing, yet frequently ignored by peers, and adults alike. Reports of aberrant behavior are often kept privileged by educators, therapists, and other authorities. Acting-out and delinquent acts are seen as typical of a certain age, or sub-culture. Earnest reports are too frequently seen as over-reactions by the reporter. Peers are usually very indulgent of their mate’s bizarre actions, and they will keep the information from their parents, or other authority figures. Keeping secrets is a seen as a virtue amongst many youths.

Jeff Weise, the 16 years old, and T.J. Lane, the 17 year old knew all the facts. Jeff, and T.J.  bore all the tormented feelings. Only Jeff and T.J. lived with all the signs of danger. We owe them and their victims the resolve to speak out, to insist upon being heard, to resist our fears of retribution, to trust and to share our insights and best guesses, to act with a sense of urgency, to require responses to our queries, and to even violate the privileges of privacy when we believe that our actions will protect another’s well being. We can no longer view our children as personal property. We must as a society appreciate the communal responsibility for our children. The signs of danger must be seen, not as troublesome signals, but rather as clear evidence of crisis, peril and vulnerability.

What’s It All About Alfie…

Sequester: To segregate, to set apart…

So when the Congress voted to sequester some money, they actually set aside dollars, for guns, for TSA and for other things. When the news first spoke of the Sequester I didn’t know the meaning of the word. I wondered why they used the term Sequester.  It seemed rather pompous.  Who knew what the term meant? Was I the only citizen out of 350 million that didn’t know the word? Did all others know the word, and not I?

Just prior to writing this evening I went to Webster to find the definition. How many other persons looked for, or asked for a definition of Sequester. It’s like when Rachel Maddow says ‘redound’ in one of her public service ads. What the hell is she talking about? My bell rings every time she says ‘redound’, and I think am I the only listener who finds the word awkward, and archaic.  Rachel, why not just say, ‘to give to me’, as in my folks gave me their home.

And furthermore, what is wrong or right about immigration? What is the problem? Why is it an issue? Throughout my life I believed that immigration was a good thing – actually a natural thing for people to do. People loved to immigrate to the United States.  If you loved in a village in Russia, and you got bored you immigrated. Tired of eating potato in Ireland, you backed an old suitcase and immigrated.

For most it was quite an adventure, and fraught with hardship, but they did it anyway. Foreign born were thrilled to float on by the Statue of Liberty, and they thanked their God that they arrived safely. My neighborhood was full of immigrants, or at least the children of immigrants. To be an immigrant suggested courage, industry and the ability to speak a foreign language.

Aside from some left over Indians, the rest of the nation were immigrants. Well maybe the Pilgrims were not immigrants, but there were none in my neighborhood. Eleven million illegal, mostly Latin immigrants and the nation is aghast. Well not the entire nation, but at least a bunch.

Real immigrants like Jewish, Irish, Italian, German, and Dutch, had an Ellis Island. A not so modest proposal: Round up all of the illegal Latins and bus them to Ellis Island. Delouse them, check their teeth, and even change their names if their name is hard to pronounce and be done with the problem. One caveat! Do not round them up at the same time, because who will be left to pick the lettuce in Yuma, Arizona, or wash the pots and pans at Le Cirque, or clean the toilets at Kennedy Airport.

Now for the mentally ill who are killing Americans, or intend to kill Americans, or might be inclined to kill Americans. As a clinical psychologist of 46 years, I have consulted with several thousand patients, and not one of them fits the bill as an assassin. Perhaps one might turn sour, but as of April 26, 2016, not one of those thousands should be denied their Second Amendment rights.

It is relatively easy to identify a mentally ill killer. Wait until he or she (rare if ever a she) gets a gun, or a bomb or multiples of both, and kills one or more persons without a visible motive. There you’ve got them. That person is most likely mentally ill or at least mean spirited. Maybe you will discover a motive and whether you do or not – they are very disturbed and not to be trusted with a gun or a bomb.

I am only one of thousands of psychologists, and psychiatrists, and as such some amongst us might be  able to pinpoint a potential killer, that is a mentally ill killer. But with privacy laws, and possible law suits, one must be careful not to pinpoint wrongly. A diagnostic classification of bi-polar disorder, schizophrenic, manic-depressive, sociopath, or aggressive personality may be the guideline for Second Amendment denial.

Using such a screening would require the professional, or perhaps the insurance company to reveal the identity of the potential killer, and we could then refuse them the right to bear arms, or bombs. One of the benefits of scanning the nation for potential mentally ill killers is that it gets almost hysterical, unanimous support from both ‘sides of the aisle.’ With such support our mentally ill will now be given more treatment services, more grants for the study of mental illness, and more drugs.

The mass murders have little saving grace, but for the current frenzy to open the treasury, find the mentally ill and cure them, or if necessary lock them up. The reason I suggest to lock some of them up is that as has been repeated over and over again, if someone wants to get a gun or a bomb they can get one. It is pretty easy. That applies to the mentally ill, as well as to the Mafia.

It is just not easy being a Black President!!!

I have never been in favor of grading children in Physical Ed. I am in favor of Physical Ed or just gym in my day, but no more grades. The physical requirements, and athletic skills that would earn an A, are only available to Jocks.

Could you earn an A for just attending on time, with sneakers, proper attire and civil behavior? Perhaps a B if you are consistently wearing pants, or jeans, but all else is acceptable. If it were possible to teach a child how to hit better, or shoot a jump shot, or run faster, or do 50 perfect push-ups or at least 6 chin –ups, then I say go for it. But Phys. Ed doesn’t do that. There is little or no teaching of athletic skills in the typical gym class.

Why not begin every school day with 30 minutes of calisthenics, or maybe just 15 minutes. That is the exercise portion of the school curriculum. If a child chooses to go to the gym to play a sport, or learn to shoot a bow and arrow, that is their choice.

But what about the Phys. Ed teacher – what are they to do? Nowadays the Phys.Ed teacher is trained in the curriculum of Sex Education, and that class should be required of all students, except for the student who is too embarrassed, or already promiscuous. No, all kidding aside, I am in favor of teaching students about their anatomy, sexuality, STD’s, safe sex, sexual abuse and even abstinence ( at least for awhile). For most students their primary schooling regarding their sexual needs and behavior takes place in their bedroom and bathroom. Advance training typically occurs at a party, or in a car, or in someone else’s bedroom or bathroom.