Hurray for Bipartisanship

On Wednesday, September 27, the Congress of the United States displayed a fervent, unanimous welcome to Representative Scalise of Louisiana. Congressman Scalise has recovered from a near death shooting, and entered the hallowed halls to 20 minutes of a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle – the no man’s land of our government.

Several weeks prior, Senator John McCain returned to the Senate after undergoing surgery and radiation treatment for a stage 4, brain cancer. As the Senator entered the capital building, the entire congress regardless of party affiliation applauded and cheered the Senators return.

It is clear that when one of their brethren is ill, the members of Congress can join hands in sincere brotherhood. Many of them teared on each occasion. It appears that the illness must have a terminal quality. No one gets cheers for the flu, or gout. The enthusiasm is reserved for that congressman who almost die, or at least face imminent death. Under those dire circumstances, bipartisanship reigns supreme.

When millions of civilians are faced with severe illness, terminal disease or possible medical intervention, health care rests in the congressional no man’s land. The proverbial aisle is inviolate.

Tom Golden, Ph.D,
Writer’s Cramp, 2017

Home Sweet Home

 

No more Nurses, no more Docs.

No more eating by clock.

No more Clergy passing by

Waiting for me to die.

No more food, so damn plain.

I threw most down the drain.

No more roommate

With their t.v. roaring.

And their gassing and their snoring.

They said go home, I guess it’s time.

Perhaps I needed one more day

And any fear would go away.

But if I stayed then who would pay,

AETNA said you’re on your way.

I’m not mad, I know it’s best,

To be at home, with love and rest.

And if they wrong,

And I get real sick,

I’ll get my lawyer – real, real, quick.

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.

But It’s So Simple

 

While sitting in my smock and waiting (and waiting) for my doctor to return, I overheard the doctor saying – “Look Sylvia, if you eat more calories than you need you’ll gain weight – if you eat less, you lose weight. – IT’S THAT SIMPLE!” I couldn’t hear his patient’s response, but it was probably more distressed than joyful.

How often we hear the desire for leisure time – “Oh, I wish I had the time to play some tennis or golf”, and the concerned response is “So do it – if you really want to you’d find the time – you make everything so complicated.” Even in matters of “life or breath” as with the habitual cigarette smoker, the concerned public suggests that all one has to do is “simply” stop smoking.

Changing human behavior is typically not so simple, so easy or just a matter of “really wanting to.” In fact, each time we are confronted with the suggestion that changing our behavior “is so simple” and then we fail, the chances of successful change become even less. We are quite familiar with the feelings of self-doubt and embarrassment that result from our “failure” to achieve the “simple” goals of daily living.

The mistaken notion that we can readily change long standing habits by “simply” being told how easy it is to change is one of the myths about human behavior. In part, the myths come from our having learned that “you are the master of your own fate” and all change must come from within yourself. If you have been raised with the notion of “lifting yourself by your own bootstraps” and yet find yourself still on the ground, daily living can be quite depressing.

We need to become more appreciative of the complexity and uniqueness of each person’s behavior and the influences of the environment upon those behaviors. We must understand that most of our behavior, particularly habits of long standing are not maintained because we are “lazy”, “stupid” or “lacking desire” for change. Many habits, e.g. smoking, excessive eating and working, are continued because they bring pleasure and/or relief from discomfort despite the contentions of other persons. In addition, the social world we live in is often inconsistent in helping us change, e.g. the food store that has a sign requesting – “Please, do not smoke” – and just to the left of the sign is a fully stocked cigarette vending machine. The most caring family often belittles the fact that you are eating the bread, and yet ignores your having stopped late night snacks… Many of us find that the most appealing aspect of our lives, is the very habit we are told to change.

Although many persons in our lives are “good” intentioned when they suggest “IT’S SO SIMPLE”, that statement does not represent a realistic assessment of the hows and whys of human behavior. Telling someone to change and TEACHING them are not the same – TEACHING of behavior change requires more investment, and work – a commitment we must be willing to make.

 

Golden Rules of Psychotherapy

If at the onset of the therapy treatment, you have diagnosed your client as a Delicious apple, then at the conclusion they might become a Macintosh apple, BUT, rarely a Banana.

A client’s behavior is always correct. Not good, and not bad. Just the best one can do at the moment. That applies to lying, swearing, hitting, singing, dancing, sulking and refusing to eat Kale!

The psychotherapist must be curious. Absent curiosity, most therapy sessions will be boring, even for the client.

When a client enters the therapy session, they will tell you the truth. Albeit, their truth. The search then begins for both you and the client.

 

Divertissement

When unable to write, my first impulse is to eat, drink a cup of coffee, or at least think of food. The following recipe will not satisfy “writer’s block,” but it is delicious, nutritious and rather inexpensive.

Ingredients:
1. One pint of high quality, vanilla ice cream.
2. One or two jiggers of Grand Marnier Liquor.
3. One pint of fresh strawberries.
Procedure:
In your favorite dessert serving bowl, allow the pint of vanilla ice cream to melt at room temperature. When that ice cream has melted, stir it so as to remove any remaining lumps. Take half of the berries and place them into the ice cream. You can cut the berries in half if you would like. Mix them gently. Now place the serving bowl into the refrigerator and remove just prior to serving. When dessert time arrives, put the remaining berries into the ice cream. The initial berry group may have dropped beneath the surface of the ice cream. The latter berries will float until you mix in the one or two jiggers of Grand Marnier. The amount of liquor depends upon your taste. Serve the dessert in individual cups. The recipe serves at least 4, but more likely six persons.

More often than not, your quests will not guess the basic ingredient, and they will insist that the cream is unique, delicious and tres chic!

Will the Real Shrink Please Stand

My Aunt Alice asked me to speak to a group of Hadassah women. She told me that the payment would be seventy five dollars. I accepted the offer, although I was dismayed with the fee. Alice then informed me that it was traditional for the guest speaker to donate the fee back to the Hadassah. At that point I was livid, though outwardly quite calm. I agreed, as I frequently do despite my total commitment to the opposing point of view. She didn’t even wince when she asked me to agree to the charitable donation, as if she knew of my basic passive-aggressive character. Alice took advantage of me, her favorite nephew.

I entitled the talk, “Reflections of a Shrink.” When I told her the title, she remarked, “…but I thought that only psychiatrists were called shrinks.” That did it! I smiled, even laughed at her verbal abuse. My outrage was totally smothered in charm and wit. Of course I was a “shrink “. I had a Ph.D. and not an M.D., but nonetheless, at that time, I had been a “shrink “for 12 years. At that moment I was quite proud of the title, “shrink “.

My aunts’ naiveté was forgivable, but I was left with several revived, yet unresolved conflicts. Foremost was the desire for the real title of Doctor. By that I mean the Doctor of Medicine, i.e. M.D. I had been granted a Doctor of Philosophy in 1969. The title sounded grand, but I had never taken a philosophy course. Besides, everyone knows that the only Doctor worthy of that title is the M.D. type. Veterinarians, optometrists, psychologists and rabbis are granted the title of Doctor, but there is something almost immoral about their use of the title; “Thou shalt not call thyself Doctor, unless thou hast laid bare a cadaver, and/or written a prescription.” (Quote from Hippocrates).

Another stressful monologue that I recited behind my eyes, were the implications of the word “shrink “. Witch doctors, cannibals, and voodoo priests were my images of head shrinkers. If I did anything to clients, it was mind expansion, and character enrichment, and not brain shrinkage. How did the word “shrink “become part of the lexicon of psychology and psychiatry? Perhaps “shrink” is derived from the Chinese, as in shrunk, as in, “My shirt is shrunk “as in the hand laundry sense of Chinese. Nevertheless, my Aunt Alice unknowingly raised serious concerns about popular confusions regarding psychologists and psychiatrists.

The initial confusion appears to be due to the shared first four letters, p-s-y-c-h. Both professions borrow from the Greek word, psyche; that is breath, life or soul. The ” trist ” in psychiatrist is derived from the Middle English word for sad, and Middle French, triste. That leaves us with Psychiatrists who ponder, “sad souls “. The “gist “in Psychologist is derived from the Latin, jacere, meaning more adjacent, or the essence of a matter. Enfin, the Psychologist concerns himself with the essence of souls. The linguistic approach clearly suggests that both Psychologists and Psychiatrists do not engage in “shrinking “anything.

There are several differences between the two disciplines that are noteworthy. Psychiatrists usually charge higher fees for a therapy session. Psychologists sometimes refer to their patients as clients. Psychiatrists never refer to their patients as anything other than patients. Psychiatrists can admit patients to a hospital mental ward, whereas Psychologists usually cannot. Psychologists administer and interpret intelligence and personality tests, and Psychiatrists give drugs. They have more drugs to administer, then Psychologists have tests. Many psychologists would gladly turn in their test kits for the right to prescribe drugs, and watch the ‘ cures ‘ roll in.

Every Psychologist envies the Psychiatrists prescription pad and the power it holds. One might ask, who came first, well I’ll tell you. At the beginning there were Philosophers, the likes of Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant. Following that philosophical tradition, the “science “of human behavior evolved to be studied by Psychologists.

The treatment of mental diseases has traditionally been the province of the medical profession that is psychiatry. Historical events, such as the World War II, prompted the rapid emergence of the Clinical Psychologist as a “shrinker.”  There now exists an uneasy truce between the two professions, and peace will reign as long as the number of patients and, or clients remains high. In recent years, the Social Worker has joined the fray.  The competition for “sad souls” will be fierce should humankind achieve a greater measure of self-worth and good will.

 

 

THE FIRST POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

Cold, not just a typical winter night. Bitter cold, gale wind without pause, and snow so thick that only memory led Joseph to the pub. The fireplace was ablaze, and the warmth brought immediate relief to Joseph’s shivering body. The regulars were at the bar. Seated at one end was Rachel and her brother Issac. Samuel, the local butcher, and his wife Muriel were busy talking to Moshe the bartender. Joseph sat on a stool just alongside Samuel, and with his head in his thawing hands, Joseph was gently sobbing.

Moshe: Joseph are you alright?
(no response from Joseph – just muffled sobs)

Moshe: Joseph, Joseph what is the wrong? Why are you crying?

Joseph: (barely audible) He is not mine.

Moshe: What? What did you say?

Joseph: He is not mine.

Rachel: Say Joseph can we buy you a drink?
(no response from Joseph)

Issac: Joseph, what’s up?

Moshe: Joseph, please- please tell me what is the matter?

Joseph: My son….
(Moshe interrupts)

Moshe: A son. Joseph you have a son!

Issac: A son – did you say a son – you have a son.
(all gather around Joseph)

Muriel: Mazel tov, Joseph. Mazel tov.

Samuel: That is great. Wow, wonderful, wonderful.

Joseph: (shouting) He is not mine.

Moshe: What are you talking about? How is Mary?

Muriel: And the baby, how is the baby?

Joseph: (Plaintively) Please leave me be. My son is not mine – he is not mine!

Moshe: Joseph, you are not making any sense. Mary has given birth to a son. What are you talking about?

Joseph: Mary says that my son is not mine. Do you all hear me? My son is not mine.
(Joseph gets up from the stool and heads toward the door)

Samuel: (grabs Joseph). Stop. Joseph you are not going anywhere. Please tell us what has happened.

Rachel: Yes. We are so thrilled for you and Mary.  We don’t understand what you are saying.

Joseph: Mary tells me, not once, but over and over again that my son is not from me – he is not mine.

Moshe: What happened? Why this crazy talk. You are not making any sense.

Joseph: And there are men in the stable, and camels. Big smelly camels, and three men with funny costumes, and weeds or plants that stink. The camels are stomping on our things. I cannot understand what the men are sayings. And Mary greets them as if they were our family. She is acting like they are kings – some kind of royalty.

Samuel: Did they talk to you? Did they introduce themselves?

Muriel: Is Mary save with them? Should we all go to the stable? I am worried for Mary and the baby.

Joseph: Mary says that I could go and not worry cause she was expecting the men. They came from far away, and followed a star to the stable.

Rachel: The more you talk, the crazier it sounds.

Moshe: Joseph I want you to sit down, and let’s go over all that occurred tonight. We are your friends, and we will help you, Mary and your son.

Joseph: Moshe. You do not understand. The boy is not my son. Can’t you understand?

Rachel: Look Joseph. Mary is your wife, right. Mary was pregnant, right. Mary gave birth this night, right.

Muriel: You hear Rachel. Is she correct?

Samuel: Joseph there is no need to talk anymore. We are going to the stable and find out what is happening.

Joseph: We can’t go back. Mary says she is fine. Not just fine, but perfect. She told me to go, and not to worry.  She told me that tonight is the most special night for all mankind. She told me that she loves me.

Isaac: Okay, so what is the problem?

Joseph: Isaac what is the problem? Are you serious? How would you feel if your wife told you that your first child – your son was not yours. How would you feel?

Moshe: Joseph, my lovely dear friend Joseph. I feel so bad allowing you to suffer so much. At times my memory fails me. My dear Joseph you have nothing to fear or worry about.

Joseph: (stunned) What are you saying Moshe? What do you mean I have nothing to worry about?

Moshe: Everybody listen up. Our dearest Mary is just depressed. Simply depressed. She means no harm. She is just suffering a POST PARTUM DEPRESSION!

With that pronouncement, all gather together and hoist Joseph on the shoulders of Isaac and Samuel and they joyfully head to the stable.

OVERWEIGHT IS A FAMILY AFFAIR

Let’s face it! Millions of people can and do lose weight. On the other hand, millions of people can and do gain weight. What else is new? Our body weight varies during the course of daily living. Most often changes in body weight are unintentional, resulting from changes in eating habits, exercise, health problems, emotional stresses, aging, genetics, and other causes.

We gain and lose weight at some “natural” rate. At some point in our lives we are told, or we determine for ourselves that we are overweight. If not overweight, we are at least fat, or stout, chubby, heavy or perhaps obese. At that point we might make an intentional decision to lose weight, get slim, diet, trim down, get lean, reduce or shed pounds. Unfortunately, the decision to lose weight is usually characterized by several other demands. The demands are that the weight loss must be rapid, painless, enduring, and inexpensive.

During the past twenty years an entire industry has developed to service the intentional goal of weight loss. We have weight loss workshops, clinics, centers, spas and institutes in all but the smallest villages. Weight loss programs are housed in churches, hospitals, schools, motels, hotels, private homes, offices and some are available through correspondence courses. There is no human condition that has the services of so many varied techniques including; meditation and hypnosis, drugs, intestinal bypasses, surgical closure of the mouth, guilt and self-hate tapes, reinforcement programs, acupuncture, fat farms, prayer, food supplements, diets from A to Z, and fasts. Not a day passes that doesn’t announce the birth of a new weight loss program.

Despite many significant differences in the various programs, the primary focus in all current programs is the individual. The overweight person is responsible for the success of the program, and as such, all the instruction is designed for individual performance. Each approach to coping with overweight requires the individual to be self-disciplined, self-determined, self-motivated, self-controlled, self…. self…. self…. The “self” is overworked, overwrought, overwhelmed and of course, overweight.

In a recent issue of a local newspaper the messages to the overweight person were: The bottom line, of course, is that the person must do for herself…use the same kind of willpower…and make up your mind in advance…firm up your will power…where there is a will there is a way to stay slim.

To the millions of persons suffering from overweight, the word diet has come to mean many things beyond losing pounds. Successful dieting has come to mean the return of self esteem, pride, acceptance and personal freedom. The loneliness and despair of the overweight person is a private torment with a unique language system. A language full of self criticism, e.g. “I was bad today”, or “I’m ugly”, or “I’m weak and worthless”, or “I have no will power and I hate myself for it.”

As a society, we have made lepers of the overweight person. They are scorned, criticized and laughed at, while at the same time we demand that the overweight person overcome our ridicule as well as shed poundage. The overweight person is not invincible. He or she is no stronger willed or weaker willed than anyone else.

How many of the “normally” weighted population could intentionally lose weight? How many persons of “normal” wills eliminate sugars, salts, and starches from their diet? How many of us could put down the fork and leave the table when “full” or almost “full” or not quite “full”? How many of us could initiate an exercise program and complete it regularly? Try avoiding alcohol, sodas and treats. How many of us could withstand the constant slander of our appearances, willpower and self-esteem? Are we demanding from overweight person more than they can produce alone? Are we demanding more than most individuals can produce?

Assuredly some persons do lose weight through individual effort, and their weight loss may even be maintained; nonetheless, one must question the prevailing attitude that the overweight individual must be solely responsible for their own weight loss. Considering the increasing problems of obesity in our population, despite the numerous weight control programs, it is doubtful that most individuals can lose weight and maintain that loss when the focus remains on individual compliance and self-willed must approach the problems of weight control from a social perspective.

We must view “overweight” as a family and/or peer group problem. The overweight person is not solely responsible for weight gain, nor can he/she be solely responsible for weight loss! Eating began as a social experience. In infancy and throughout childhood, adolescence and on into adulthood, most people eat in a social environment.

Whether it is a family or peer group, eating is a social experience. Our eating habits, tastes and attitudes toward food have all derived from a social learning experience.  A social learning approach to weight control would involve the immediate social environment, e.g. spouses, children, relatives, and even friends. Many overweight persons live in homes that ignore the family responsibility for eating, nutrition and weight control. The dieter” is scorned for weight gain, and praised for weight loss.

The “non dieters” assume the role of evaluators of the “fat” family member. Will he or she control themselves? Will self-control prevail? Will the dieter be “good” or “bad”? The inevitable resentments smolder and the tensions increase. Eating becomes a test of will and a commentary on one’s character. Is it any wonder that eating and stress are so interrelated? The families and associates of the “overweighed” must commit themselves to weight control. The mutual concerns and bonds of our social relations must be identified and focused upon controlling weight.

Each “Normally” weighted person must assume the responsibility for eating, nutrition and diet. The overweight person cannot do it alone! The volume of research findings is clear and repetitive. Many persons can intentionally lose weight, but most regain the weight, and many even increase their weight.

Weight control programs that emphasize the individual and neglect the family and other social support systems will probably fail in the majority of cases.  Overweight is emotionally, socially and physically crippling. We cannot stand by and allow the overweight person to “go it alone”. We must take the control from the “overweighted self” and do our share. The task is actually the responsibility of the group. Only by assuming the responsibility for weight control, will “normally” weighted persons control the problem of the overweight.

Bring It Home…

There is a constant drum beat to allow the States to control various decisions for residents, e.g. abortion rulings. The assumption is that any one state is so homogenous that decisions would be reflective of a popular agreement. Maybe yes, but maybe no. Let’s use New York State as an example. Were we to offer a state-wide referendum on abortion, we may find a great divide between folks in New Berlin , New York and East New York, Brooklyn.  Perhaps we would do better to have such decisions closer to home rule and have the decision made at a county level.  Better yet, any town, hamlet, or village could  possibly offer the most agreement on just about any issue. If all else fails, we could appeal to the basic family unit, and then before we go to sleep just ask the pregnant woman sleeping next to you what the hell she wants to do.

Are You Listening

They were standing on Main Street in New Berlin just in front of the Big M market.

It was a late Fall day. A light drizzle and the wind circled one’s body and carried the first bite of early winter. Muriel and Helen were just about to enter the shop.

Muriel: Hello Helen. How are you?

Helen: Not so good.

Muriel: How is your sister?

Helen: Oh, she’s fine.

Muriel: I’m so exhausted. I’ve been running all morning.

Helen: I know how you feel. I’ve been very tired lately.

Muriel: I hope the rain holds off till Saturday. I’ve got guests coming for lunch tomorrow.

Helen: Muriel you know I’ve been getting more exhausted lately.

Muriel: I plan for four for lunch, but Harriet usually calls at the last minute to tell me she is too tired to eat at lunch, so she never comes.

Helen: I think I should make an appointment at Chenango Memorial Hospital.

Muriel: That Harriet she makes me so mad, but it doesn’t matter anyway.

Helen: The outpatient clinic is so busy nowadays.

Muriel: Even if Harriet doesn’t come, I’m going to make my special peach pie.

Helen: Muriel do you ever feel whoosy whenever you stand up?

Muriel: What?

Helen: Did you ever feel real dizzy when you stand up?

Muriel: Sometimes. Helen, I can’t understand…

Helen: I’m sorry Muriel, but I don’t how to explain myself, but the dizziness is really annoying.

Muriel: Helen, you know if you use fresh peaches, the pie takes one hour to bake.

Helen: I know.

Muriel: Have you ever used fresh peaches for pie ?

Helen: Many times Muriel, but nowadays I find it hard to stand on my feet.

Muriel: Well I’ll tell you. I’m not going to kill myself.

Helen: Is it really so much trouble?

Muriel: No, but I’m really annoyed with Harriet.

Helen: Is it getting colder? I feel a chill.

Page 2….

Muriel: Can you believe it? Harriet has never made a lunch at her house.

Helen: Muriel, I’m so cold. I’d best get going.

Muriel: Where are you going?

Helen: Muriel, my legs feel weak.

Muriel: Helen maybe you’d like to come over for lunch.

Helen: Oh thanks but I’d best…..

Muriel: Everyone is coming about 12:30.

Helen: Where is my car? Muriel do you see my car?

Muriel: I walked downtown today.

Helen: I can’t see my car.

Muriel: Where did you park it?

Helen: Muriel, my legs are so cold. I think I’m gonna……..

Muriel: It is getting a bit chilly. Well I’ve got to buy some Crisco and a pie tin.(Muriel enters Big M.)

Helen: Bye Muriel, I’ll……..( Helen falls to the ground, just as Muriel enters the store. It starts to rain. Across the street, a man comes out of the NBT bank. He runs to Helen who is lying on the ground. The rain falls even harder.)