- the nararrator, a 12 year old boy named Augusten
- Augusten's mother, Deirdre
- Deirdre's shrink, Dr. Finch (sometimes shortened to Dr. F)
- Dr. Finch's receptionist & daughter, Hope
from Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's, 2002, pp. 33-36)
(Note: this is a work of fiction & any resemblance to real meat is sheer serendipity.)
Dr F offers mother & son a tour of his backroom, to which, he explains he often retires . . .
"Between patients. After patients. Sometimes if a patient is particularly tedious, I will excuse myself to the Masturbatorium."
Our allegorical curtain now rises:
But opening the door to the Masturbatorium revealed a surprise. Hope had left her post as receptionist and was napping on the seedy couch.George Oppen, in section 20 (the half-way point) of the highly pertinent poem from the late 60's, "Of Being Numerous":
"What is this?" Finch bellowed. "Hope!" he boomed.
Hope startled awake. "Jesus, Dad. You scared the shit out of me." She blinked against the light. "Oh my God, what's the matter with you?"
Finch was furious. "Hope, you have no business being in here. This is my masturbatorium and you're using my blanket." He pointed at the colorful crocheted throw Hope had wrapped around herself.
The tassels along the edge were stuck together.
"Dad, I was just taking a nap."
"This is not the place for naps," he bellowed.
My mother turned around to leave. "I think I'll get a fresh cup of Sanka."
"Wait a minute, Deirdre," Finch said.
My mother froze. "Yes?"
"Do you see how Hope's behavior is wrong?" he asked.
My mother brought her cigarette to her mouth. "Well, I really don't know."
Hope sat up on the couch.
"Deirdre, answer me," Finch demanded. "Do you see how Hope's sneaking in here and invading my private space is wrong?"
After a moment of thinking about it, my mother said, "Well, I can understand not liking one's space invaded. I can understand how it would be upsetting to have somebody messing with your things without asking."
"Then confront her!" Finch directed.
I stood back, not wanting to get sucked in.
"Well, I . . ."
"Deirdre, speak up! Tell Hope what you feel."
My mother looked at Hope as if to say, What can I do? Then she said, "Hope, I don't think it's right for you to disturb your father's space without asking."
"This is none of your business, Deirdre," Hope said. Her eyes were squinty with anger.
My mother took another long drag from her cigarette and tried to leave again. "I really think I'll just get another cup of Sanka."
Finch grabbed her arm. "Just a minute there, Deirdre. Are you going to let Hope walk all over you like that? Jesus Christ, Deirdre. Are you going to be Hope's doormat?"
My mother turned sharply to Finch. "I'm not Hope's goddamned doormat, Finch. This just isn't any of my business; she's right. It's between you and your daughter."
"Bullshit!" Finch shouted. "That's just pure evasive bullshit."
"It most certainly is not," my mother said. She tossed her cigarette on the floor and mashed it out with the toe of her sandal. "I am not getting in the middle of this." She brushed imaginary lint off the front of her black turtleneck.
Hope said, "Dad, you're overreacting. Leave Deirdre out of this. It is between you and me."
"You," he said, pointing at her, "Stay the hell out of this."
Hope shrunk against the back of the sofa.
"What do you think, young man?" he said, looking to me.
"I think you're all crazy," I said.
. . . The office was stuffy, hot. There was a fan in the window that was blowing out. I wanted to turn it so it blew into the room, but Hope insisted that it was better to blow the hot air out of the room, as opposed to sucking the warm air in. "I hate my life," I said.
War, and the news
That the juices may flow in them
Tho the juices lie.
Great things have happpened
On the earth and given it history, armies
And the ragged hordes moving and the passions
Of that death. But who escapes
Among these riders
Of the subway.
By now as I know
Failure and the guilt
As in Hardy's poem of Christmas
We might half-hope to find the animals
In the sheds of a nation
Kneeling at midnight,
Draft animals, beasts for slaughter
Because it would mean they have forgiven us,
Or which is the same thing,
That we do not altogether matter.