“You went to dental college to have a bridge made?”
“Yes,” he said, voice muffled by the swelling on the left side of his face.
“You seem surprised that there were complications.”
“One hopes for the best,” he replied miserably.
“Reminds me of a young therapist I had once. It cost me a fraction of what an experienced professional would have, and I reasoned that she was being supervised and that I was the one who’d have to do the hard work in any case. How much could her inexperience have hurt me? I remember telling myself that.”
His friend inclined his head quizzically, his face too inflamed to make unnecessary utterances.
“Early on I brought her a drawing book of mine which she flipped through. I explained to her that this is how I saw the world, flashing vignettes of creative inspiration and how important drawing and other creative expression was to me. She nodded and asked why I don’t try to sell them. I explained my feelings about creativity in service of commerce, my misgivings about doing creative work for clients, particularly the wealthy and tasteful. When I was done explaining she pointed out that Hitler had been a frustrated artist. It didn’t occur to me to ask if she was suggesting a career in politics for me.”
His friend grimaced, grunted meaningfully.
“Yeah, I know. Anyway, she came up with a great restatement of my essential problem, which I’ve never forgotten. I told her how difficult it was for me to get anyone to appreciate the beauty and potential of the simple, radical educational model I’d come up with. Friends would nod sympathetically while thinking of gentle ways to convince me it was long past time to do something else. She said to me ‘so, it’s upsetting to you that your friends are not able to be affectionate to the imaginary dog you love.’ I thought of siccing my imaginary dog on her young ass, but stared past her at the wall, thinking of ways to say nothing.”
“And you question my wisdom in getting a bridge from a…. ouch…” and he closed his eyes, faced screwed up in pain.
“Yeah, I know,” I said, “we are often much more droll than we realize, aren’t we?”