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Archive for July, 2010

A therapist colleague recently agreed with me that the funniest things we’d ever heard were told to us by our clients.  Summer break (and the week of the bar exam) seems like an appropriate time for a laugh.  So…without further ado…here are some of my clients’ funniest utterances from the past few years:

  • (An Arab client) “Don’t worry, Will – my name is Saif (pronounced “safe”), so all the sex I have is ‘Saif sex!'”
  • “My mother did everything around the house.  If my father asked her to do an extra chore she’d say ‘fine, and I’ll stick a broom up my ass so I can sweep the kitchen floor at the same time!'”
  • “I prefer the term ‘MoHo’ – Fag Hag is so last year.”
  • Diet coke and vodka.  It’s a dieter’s drink.  Just order a “skinny black bitch.”
  • “My best friend and I played a game called “MFK” – Marry, Fuck or Kill.  You pick three random people and decide which you’d marry, fuck and kill.  But that got boring.  The new variation is ‘Oral, Vaginal or Anal.'”

  • “My husband’s an investment banker and works in Abu Dhabi half the year.  I’m a ‘gulf widow’.”
  • “I tried to detard him.  That’s when you un-tard a retard.  Needless to say, I failed.”
  • “I’m a ShoMo – a big Broadway musical queen.”
  • (An obstetrician) “Dr. Jones, at your cervix.  Dilated to meet you!”
  • “I thought my boyfriend was a guido, going to Atlantic City to party with his yo-bro’s.  It turned out he was a ‘mo.  Those yo-bro’s were his mo-bro’s.”
  • “My boyfriend is kind of kinky.  I call him a ‘BOB’.  A ‘bend-over boyfriend.'”
  • (A leather queen patiently correcting me): “The phrase ‘ass-less chaps’ is redundant, Will.”
  • (On a Skype session with a client in Japan) “I feel like I’m having an earthquake.” “You mean, from the session?”  “No, the house is shaking.” (Indeed, she’d been experiencing an earthquake during our call.)
  • “When I was 11 years old, a bully beat me up and I refused to go to school the next day.  My mother told me we were immigrants, and I had to be brave.  She gave me a $10 bill and said, find a big kid and pay him to beat up the bully.”
  • “He wasn’t really hot.  He was “lawyer-hot” – as in, I was stuck at work and horny.”
  • “My friends have a party game – match the most unlikely Asian surname to a Western given name.  My personal favorite is ‘Tyrone Ramachandran.'”
  • “So he came on her back while she was sleeping and stuck the sheet on it.  That’s called ‘superman-ing the bitch.'”
  • “He rolled his foreskin over my foreskin – that’s called ‘docking.'”
  • “What do 9 out of 10 people enjoy?  Gang rape.”
  • “He tried to omelet me.  That’s when he comes in my ear and folds it over.”
  • Told by an attractive young blonde: “This cab driver in Rome asked me the time.  He was about 70 years old, four feet tall and didn’t speak English.  I shook my head.  So he gestured like this (facing the palms of his hands over one another like two people in bed) and said ‘meesh-meesh?’  Now I say “meesh-meesh” instead of ‘have sex.’ (So, eventually, did the rest of her therapy group, after hearing that story.)
  • “I’m Filipino.  I don’t talk about sex.  But we did stuff.  That’s all I’ll say – we did stuff.”  (…which is how “did stuff” became the official euphemism for sex in my other therapy group.)
  • (Asian client) “Once you’ve had Asian – there’s no more Caucasian.”
  • (Black client) “Once you’ve had white – you go white back to black.”
  • Client in my HIV+ gay men’s group: “My thing is low-hangers.  I love low-hangers.” (This brought the group to a stand-still.)

  • “I went to a meeting of a nudist book club, but it was movie night.”
  • “She DIH-n’t!” (Said by a gay Latin client.)  “Yuh-huh she did!”  (I was coached to say this precisely in sync with him.)
  • (A Cameroonian client) “My mother’s family tried to bury my aunt on our property, so they could build their house there – but we chased them off.  It is our land still.”
  • “A sidecar, in a wine glass, with three cherries.  That’s a drag queen drink.”
  • “He ‘Houdini-ed’ her.  That’s when you do a girl from behind, against a big window.  Then you pull out, and your buddy takes over, while you run around the front of the window and wave at them.”
  • “I suppose my boyfriend might have been more aware of my feelings if he weren’t FUCK-TARDED.”
  • How is a moped like a fat girl?  They’re both fun to ride until your friends see you.

That’s enough for now.  You get the idea.  Enjoy your summer and good luck on the bar!

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What is it about lawyers and vacations? Like the old saying about long-horn cattle and a Texas fence – they just don’t get along so good. It’s like a physical aversion.

I worked with a client recently who was planning, in utter frustration, to quit his medium-size firm in a medium-size American city. The partner was lecturing him about his billable hours, but business was dead slow so there was nothing to bill for. The lawyer found out later that all his peers were simply billing for work that hadn’t been done yet, on the theory that they’d be laid off by the time the proverbial cow-patty and the fan were joined in unison.

He couldn’t bring himself to fake his time records to that degree, so he was stomping mad, announcing in stentorian tones that this was it, he was quitting. I urged him to stick around and see if he couldn’t get laid off with everyone else, so he could at least receive unemployment. No, he insisted – he needed out now.

Well, I reasoned, then why not take some vacation, so you can cool off and kill time simultaneously?

That was unthinkable.

It turned out he hadn’t had a vacation in 8 months – and that vacation was for 3 days.

Yes. THREE DAYS. Actually five, he said, since he took the weekend, too.

He took the weekend.

His objection to taking a vacation now? He wasn’t going out like that, on a sour note. That wouldn’t be right.

So. Quitting in a huff was okay. But taking any of his accumulated vacation time when the firm was so slow there was nothing for anyone to do and everyone was faking their hours? Inconceivable.

Flash forward six weeks. He didn’t quit. Instead he managed to convince a partner to dump a bunch of work on him, and actually managed to approach the insane billable hours requirement for last month. Now he’s totally exhausted, and his fellow junior associates are complaining he’s hogging the work.

How about a vacation? I suggested.

No way. He’d just made his hours – how could he take a vacation now?

But isn’t that the whole idea? That you’ve earned some time off?

He looked at me like I’d gone mad. If he took vacation now, all the other associates would get his work and he wouldn’t be able to make his hours. Besides, if he took vacation, he’d have to work twice as hard.

Why? I asked. If you’re off for two weeks of the month, you’re only expected to work half as many hours, right?

Wrong. It doesn’t work that way. You still have to make your hours for that month, even if you take a vacation. You just have to pull double-shifts.

Doesn’t that defeat the whole point of taking a vacation?

He shrugged me off, exasperated. I didn’t get it.

In the twisted mind of a lawyer, taking a vacation is simply bad. To take a vacation when the firm is slow rubs the unthinkable in their face – that the firm is slow. When things are busy? Well, then you’re not pulling your weight, are you?

Of course, you can’t simply “take” a vacation at a law firm – you have to clear it with the partner. At my client’s firm, the standard response was: “this isn’t a good time.”

There is no good time.

(more…)

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This week’s question is from A.M.:

What strategies can you suggest for someone who is stuck when writing, say a thesis or a dissertation? Two people dear to me have essentially withdrawn from society, apparently unable to deal with the ego strain of finishing this last piece of the degree. Any thoughts?

And here’s my answer:

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/w?v=bjcf95c083E]

To submit a question to Ask The People’s Therapist, please email it as text or a video to: wmeyerhofer@aquietroom.com

If I answer your question on the site, you’ll win a free session of psychotherapy with The People’s Therapist!

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My patient was in a tizzy about a relationship:

“I don’t know if I can do this.  I mean – he’s talking about going on a vacation together.  What if we break up before then?”

I tried to calm her down.

“You guys have been dating for a month.  No one’s bought tickets.  He’s just talking.  And you two seemed to be having fun together.”

“But I don’t want to hurt his feelings.  Maybe I should break up with him now, before he gets too into me.”

“You barely know each other.  Give it a chance.”

“But what if I want to date someone else?  Wouldn’t that be cheating?”

“After a month?  It’s too soon for commitment.  Try to relax and have some fun.”

I encounter this type of anxiety in my patients all the time.  Relationships are scary because people make them scary.  Even during the first few weeks, they build up the pressure until they’re going nuts, then complain that they feel smothered, walled-in, overwhelmed, suffocated – it doesn’t make any sense.

When you climb a ladder, you shouldn’t look down because you’ll get scared.  The trick is to ignore how high you’re getting, and keep climbing.  At some point it doesn’t really matter how high you are – you’re high enough that if you fell, it would be bad.  So why bother looking and get freaked out – just keep climbing.

It’s the same with relationships.  Don’t look too far ahead or you’ll panic.  Try to relax, keep going, and have fun.  If you pay too much attention to how many weeks, or months, or even years have gone by, it will only spook you.  Take it day by day, moment by moment.  How long a relationship has been running doesn’t tell you anything about its quality in the moment, where it’s actually playing out.  Maybe you’ve been together 60 days or 60 years. They both probably seem like a long time, depending on where you are in your life.  The more important question is are you happy together right now?

The past is behind you and the future is unknown.  The present is where you live.  That’s where relationships take place.  The key question each day is:  am I having fun?  Do I want to continue to share experience with this person?

If the answer is yes, keep going.  If not, maybe wait a little while longer, and if the answer is still no – it might be time to move on.

I’m amazed at how quickly my patients begin to feel overwhelmed by relationships.  That happens because they rush things – stare out at the distant horizon instead of staying in the moment and concentrating on today, the time you’re sharing right now with another person.

Remember, it’s easy to break up.  It takes about two minutes.  Say “this isn’t working for me” and walk away.  Done.  You can end a relationship in the time it takes to brush your teeth.  No one is “trapped” in a relationship.

Starting a relationship is the time-consuming part:  meeting someone, connecting, finding out about one another and keeping it going.

The road ahead in every relationship is unknown.  And it doesn’t really matter all that much because you can’t control the future.

I’ve developed a few general time guidelines for relationships, just from watching my clients and seeing what works.  I think four months of dating is a symbolic milestone.  That’s the first time it would be remotely sensible to consider whatever you two have more than casual dating, and maybe even contemplate the idea of becoming exclusive.  I don’t know why I chose four months – maybe the idea of sharing an entire season of the year is symbolic.  You’ve gone one quarter of the way around the sun in one another’s company, from equinox to solstice (or vice versa.)

Six or eight months seems like a reasonable time before you consider yourselves a couple and present yourselves as such.  A year or 18 months seems like a reasonable amount of time before you think about moving in together.

These are not hard figures – everyone has their own way of doing things.  But if you’re going much faster than that, you’re probably rushing things – trying to get to the end of the road instead of letting things unfold organically, and stopping to enjoy the ride.

There’s no rush to get “established” in a relationship.  A relationship never has to be anything other than a choice you’re making because you’re enjoying it – something you want to do, today, for yourself.

Anyone who’s in a really good long-term relationship will tell you:  it’s best when every day feels like the first day, when you first met someone interesting and thought – hey, this is fun.

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