It was soon after I started seeing Schneiderman that I began dreaming about artists and their work. Warhol and the soup cans were just the latest. You'd think I was an art history major: In my Impressionist dream, I'm picnicking and rowing with Renoir, inside one of his paintings. I want to eat everything-- the pinks and blues and roses-- just like I want to eat his paintings. In the dream, I try to paint alongside Renoir, and instead of painting a flower, I paste a real flower on the canvas. It only lives a short time, and his painted flower looks more real. It's a pleasant and peaceful dream, with Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp playing in the background.
So Schneiderman never hears about it. I only tell him the Renaissance stuff, and the Neanderthal stuff-- the hieroglyphics on the cave wall, wild conga drums, me pounding people with big clubs and making love like a grunting gorilla... to Marcy.
The Pollock dream is a nightmare; my whole life splayed chaotically on a canvas.
I dream Picasso's blue period, and I am blue. ("Goin' to Chicago, gonna leave my Bessie behind.")
The Modigliani results in a nocturnal emission. Now that should be the real infidelity: The Modigliani, who seduces me utterly, and with whom I am madly in love.
And now Campbell's Soup. But it's not the real stuff. I can't drink it. It's only pictures of soup, in the can, just like Warhol. It's the only dream that doesn't flesh itself out. If Vermeer had painted soup, I'd be tasting the stuff and asking for seconds.
Schneiderman is killing me. Sitting there all superior, humming during our sessions. Humming. He's probably looking at me thinking, "There but for the Grace of Hashem go I." And this demento is going to figure out my marriage? And my schmeckle? I don't think so.
And what about the waiting room? Does he really think I don't notice what he's up to? The travel posters have come down; the Chagall has gone up. Cows and Russian guys, floating in space, playing violins. The muzak he pipes in is all strings, Fiddler on the Roof without the vocals. And the next week Chagall has been replaced by Van Gogh's "Room at Arles," and the soupy orchestrations play the Beach Boys' "In My Room." He's messing with my head. With my dreams.
Okay, so I'm scared of Schneiderman. I used to be obsessed by sexual thoughts. Now I find myself only thinking about Schneiderman night and day. What I'm going to tell him. What he's going to say. I see some born-again kid on the subway with a What Would Jesus Do? Bracelet, and I start designing my own: What Would Schneiderman Think? And when is he going to name that tune?
"What are you really afraid of?" Schneiderman asks me.
"That underneath this fašade of 'barely normal' lurks a perverted sexual deviant who's evil, like the Marquis de Sade. Though more of a submissive."
"We're out of time. Sit with that for a while. See you next Tuesday."
See what I mean? The way he holds on to the power, keeps you on edge? It would have killed him to stretch the session another five minutes? Sit with that? What the hell does that mean? Sit with this, I think, grabbing my crotch, pretending I'm black instead of Jewish.
Meanwhile, Marcy feels that she can't and won't confide about my doings in San Francisco to any of her girlfriends, because she is certain they would hate me and not want me around anymore.
Is that true? Am I condemned by womankind?
Why did God make men so horny? What was the thinking in that? Lenny Bruce said, "Men will schtup anything-- a tree, mud." I got married, Schneiderman tells me, but I didn't bring my schmeckle along. My schmeckle is still a bachelor. It never stopped looking and lusting. "Yeah, looking," I say aloud to myself. "Not acting. Not doing. Never." Until Destiny.
My schmeckle cost me an arm and a leg. A hundred forty bucks to Destiny, plus $40 into the slot in the wall to make the privacy cover automatically slide down over the window, plus the $125 to Schneiderman every week, and that makes for one expensive orgasm.
"So, what's going on?" Schneiderman asks Marcy. We're in couples counseling now, another $125 for him to get her history. I think he has the hots for her. I know he does. And now he's whistling, tapping his foot.
"My husband's an idiot," she says.
"Can you say more?"
"I don't need to. I feel complete."
And the sad thing is, I totally agree with her. So now we both have to live with me. It's no picnic (Renoir or no.) I am high maintenance, even to myself-- I take up so much time I barely have any left to spend with anyone else. Being me is a full-time job. I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with me. Unless it was just for the sex.
Passion and Violence
A Song of Ascents:
The News from San Francisco
Bush the Exception
Samuel Hayim Brody
The Wrong Half
Margaret Mackenzie Schwartz
God Had a Controlling Interest
Josh hosts a party
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From previous issues:
Skepticism Does Not Exist
The Mall Balloon-Man Moment of the Spirit