Welcome to the Medicine Chest
KITELKA, PERSONAL PSYCHIC, SPEAKS:
“My dear, you know, besides being medicated up the wazoo – your Larry Gee is
a narcissist, and he must be the Absolute C of attention in a romantic
relationship. His partner must play the supporting role -- financial and
emotional -- paying his (modest) bills and constantly stroking his fragile
“And you, my dear Lithia --Pretender to his Throne-- are, alas, also an
attention hog. Yes, you are, my dear, you know you are. Blame those wonderful
parents of yours who locked you in the bathroom until you produced, well,
whatever you produced.
“While Larry Gee's reworking his own life-story told in scribbled notes on
the back of picture postcards, you constantly have your own interior-monologue
type novel going, a sure sign of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD.) Let's
be real: there can only be one superstar in a successful relationship. Around
here that superstar is Larry Gee. And don't you forget it!
"I suggest you take a cruise, my dear, a long, lingering cruise. You’ll leave
after you have changed your phone numbers, and put Call Block on his. You’ll
start out alone. You’ll bring silky lingerie. Bon Voyage!”
2. RX 4 A BF: FOREWORD
Hug This: Smart T-Shirts for Lithia and Larry Gee, Our Fascinating
Long-Distance, Um, Couple.
The world was too much with them, like many current couples, and so, after
agreeing never to discuss politics, especially those bad "B"-words – Bush and
Blair – and, despite their shared writing projects creating a new comedy/drama
television series designed for people who haaaaated TV, they had begun to drift
apart, or at least, into their separate routines.
He: creating parodies for an esoteric British audience online; the ecstasies
of couch-potato-hood; his sports teams; country walks past equine congeries;
enjoying the mixed nuts of online chat; nursing grudges against errant exes; the
Olympics of worry.
She: obsessively replaying her old bedroom's demolition; the genteel
pleasures of backyard gardening; training her pugnacious cat to boot up a
laptop; Vitamin-store shopping binges; qi gong sessions among the azaleas;
austere Buddhist retreats to lift her spirits, rather than fancy manicures or
Her latest solo TV writing project is a pitch for “CLONING LARRY,” which, as
they say, is “inspired by a true story:” Despite being a live-out-loud
hypochondriac with a garage full of symptoms, lovable Larry's so irreplaceable
to all the women in his life, he has been cloned-- one for his ex-wife, one for
his ex-mistress, one for his latest ex girlfriend, one to attend sporting
events, and the real one, a sweet sensitive apparently hopelessly single guy
always seeking true love and eternal happiness. The clone brigade comes free,
courtesy of an innovative but slightly evil biotech company conducting Beta
trials of its latest models. Naturally, when there's a federally mandated clone
recall due to a glitch in the program, all the women in Larry's life must face
life as it really is.
And then, oh-so-suddenly, "Science Says" plays the oh-so-pliable American
public, giving everyone Cognitive Whiplash, with its latest chilling
pronunciamento: "OBESITY INCREASES RISK OF DEMENTIA BY 74%."
Drat! Just when she was getting used to being "plump and pulchritudinous." Or
is that "fat and happy." Um, you know, embracing the joys of corpulence – cold
pizza for breakfast, ice cream as foreplay, escalloped potatoes stuffed with
macaroni and cheese for dessert – after that oh-so-comforting previously recent
study claimed it's cool to be chubby. Sob! Once again, her life's like some
yet-unwritten Randy Newman lyric, "Fat people got no reason to live."
Certainly she's too thin to be "fat-and-sexy," yet too fat to be
'thin-and-sexy," so, for a time, she languishes in some lost limbo of romantic
neglect. Then a hefty woman, let's call her "Evangelica," unloads about a whole
category of men called "chubby chasers." The only problem, "Eva" informs her,
you never knew if they love you, or their fetish for scalloped fleshy overhangs.
Along comes a solution.
Look, darling, she tells her fondest faraway fella, now they have invented a
“Hugging T-Shirt,” especially for folks in long-distance relationships.
Uh, just what they need, right? The buzzword's "interactive," and supposedly
this "Hugging T-Shirt "simulates the missing partner's breath, touch and
She can't wait, shuddering to think what they'll conceive of next: A luridly
rhinestone-and-ostrich-feather-studded, gambler-oriented version of this T-shirt
that spirits you away to Vegas for a high-rolling night on the town? Why
would anyone ever want a "Hugging T-Shirt" anyway? Besides, didn’t Professor
Temple Grandin, a bona-fide autistic intellectual pioneer profiled in the “New
Yorker,” already invent a "Hugging Machine" to comfort the autistic?
Does she get "Hugging T-Shirt" royalties?
Look, if they can create a so-called "Hugging T-Shirt," why not turn all that
ingenuity in the direction of finding cures for cancer, AIDS, poverty, famine,
drought, the Kardashians, and similar global scourges?
Which makes her wonder about dispensing with, uh, other humans altogether?
Mostly, they are messy, neurotic, and barely “get” you, let alone laugh at
your jokes. As for guys, well, she's convinced her cat will learn to lower the
toilet set before any male human does.
Just think: Through the so-called wonders of science, these "Hugging
T-Shirts" are promised to "realistically simulate a partner's caress," based on
information about "body temperature, heartbeat, and touch, transmitted by mobile
Horrors! This must mean she needs to get a cell-phone. Er, perhaps her fella
can activate his?
Although surely he's swimming in self-confidence – meaning not quite unstrung
by the distinct possibility someday sweet and smart guys like him could be
replaced by this simple, well, not-so-simple T-shirt that, for instance, never
sleeps through romantic phone-calls – she bets he'd at least be curious.
Because, since the proverbial path of true love, alas, has more bumps than a
phrenology convention, science is on the march, especially in such speculative
realms as romance.
First they invent the human-shaped pillow made from Memory-Foam. Then this
"Hugging T-Shirt." Certainly she's a fan of virtuality as much as the next
chick. But these so-called "advances" are really getting ridiculous, aren't
they? And so they're left with the moral equivalent of bad music from a
garage rock band that could be named Fat Chance and the Chubby Chasers, while
everyone's playing "Science Says" around the Maypole. That’s progress?
3. RX 4 A BF
I don’t think I ever really made my mother happy until after she was already
dead. That’s when I dated my first, and only, doctor. Sometimes I think of my
mother like Woody Allen’s mom in that movie, “New York Stories,” where her
magnificence was so vast she occupies half the sky.
I’m Lithia Romaine and this is my story. Alright, as Sadie my mother would
say, “That’s your story, and you’re stuck with it.” I live outside a place let’s
call Philadelphia for the sake of argument. Already we have no privacy, because
Google got there first – they’re Kilroy for the Not-So-New Millennium. Besides,
no one will really believe me otherwise.
But it’s someplace in America, founded in the 19th century, then unfounded,
or, as they like to say, unincorporated several times in the 20th century
because residents felt they weren’t getting enough bang for their buck when it
came to municipal services, so we’ve had five mayors in the past decade. Don’t
ask. Just don’t.
Twenty years ago, I came here to go to college, and stayed, a Jersey girl
with big hair and even bigger ambitions – to escape my probable destiny either
as a supermarket checker or federal government employee. Also I assumed if I
went to the big city, or closer to it, I’d find true love and the perfect pet,
not necessarily in that order, forbidden privileges I felt weren’t precisely
part of my childhood, mother-knows-best and all.
Turns out my mother, Sadie Romaine, actually did know best. I just didn’t
realize it until later. Much later.
True, this doctor I started, uh, seeing, let’s call him Dr. X, was only a
doctor by default, kicked out of med-school before he completed his training to
become a shrink specializing in the psychobiology of dreams and dreaming. His
crime? Supposedly, taking too many acid trips. Which he labeled “research.” Of
course, the school didn’t agree.
So, by the time we meet, he’s become a rogue physician, casting aside most
commonly accepted medical modalities. He’s already relying on herbs and
acupuncture to treat his patients. Needles and twigs? Back then, when I hung out
with him, I confess I really was clueless about natural healing. I thought it
was weird how everything he used seemed to look like a handful of dried-up moss.
For the life of me, I disbelieved he could actually diagnose anyone with their
His hipness was wasted on me. Secretly I suspected he was a fraud, a quack,
an aspiring witch-doctor. Or a charming kook.
But boy was he sweet, smart, sexy, and slyly funny. A dark bearded
heartthrob. Rasputin for macrobiotics. Maybe Dr. X was even the high school
boyfriend I never had. Plus whenever he visited, he’d book a luxury hotel room
on the Square for us and order room service-- lox, bagels, and cream cheese
after making love. Not too shabby. Unless his credit card didn’t work.
Then we’d just walk around holding hands and mooning at each other across the
street in the park.
Now just contemplating this gives me a headache, but once he actually dared
to ask would I have his baby and work with him in a bioresearch clinic he
planned to open someday in – don’t laugh – someplace like the Sahara Desert. Or
was it the Negev?
I wanted to be flattered, I did, really I did. But, to me, this was clearly
evidence of Dr. X’s rumored Thoth complex – his yearning to become a modern-day
avatar of the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom and magic by impregnating legions
of willing, certifiably brainy women. Yes, supposedly Dr X sought to
inseminate as many high IQ/PhD women as he could fit in at international medical
conferences and such, so they could breed and breed and breed and create a race
of spectacularly superior offspring in his own image, presumably to take over
Sigh. Definitely not me.
Eventually Dr X changed his first name and moved to a foreign country to
evade the Feds who had been after his butt way back for never paying off his
public health loan for med school.
Nevertheless, apparently he’s still getting huge grants --major funding for
researching okra, that slimy, hairy veggie, as a mega-cure for cancer, diabetes,
inflammation, the common cold, and even bridal nerves. He’s really a
leading-edge thinker, Dr X is. And nutty, too. What an amazing guy. I mean,
aside from sleeping with his wool hat on during our hotel trysts. Truly, I
Now I realize he would have been perfect for me. Except for one or two minor
defects. Like what? What could be so horrible? Well, here’s one detail: During
our dating, he was already married. To someone else. A Polynesian scientist he
kept impregnating. While he flew back and forth to the East coast, she lived in
Minnesota. And despite his marriage, he continued to use exotic hookers. I mean,
besides seeing me. Awful, huh?
Like I said, when I knew Dr X I was clueless about natural healing. And
healing in general. And generally clueless.
It wasn’t until years later when two guys built like refrigerators whomped me
within an inch of my life while I was returning from looking at houses with a
real estate woman other than my own (REAL-ESTATE INFIDELITY), leaving my mouth
shredded like Hamburger Helper, that I began to explore healing alternatives. By
then, Dr. X was long gone -- therefore, I had met my Fate – being forced to hang
out with lesser mortals.
In other words, the clutches of Larry Gee. OMMMMMMMMMM.