Call Me “Mister Helpful”

My most recent monthly session with my psychiatrist was a most unusual one, because Dr. R. U. Forereel opened up to me rather than the other way around.

“Have a seat, Neil,” Dr. Forereel said quietly when I entered her office, a small room whose every aspect is as stylish and welcoming as can be. I obeyed, placing my bony ass on the comfortable patient’s chair. It faced its clone, occupied by the good doctor, from a distance of five feet.

“Neil,” she continued, an unmistakable tone of dejection in her voice, “I’m in the midst of an existential crisis, one so powerful I can’t escape its clutches. I want to be totally upfront with you right now. Here’s the bottom line: My condition is interfering with my ability to do my job. Which is why I suspect that you won’t make much progress at today’s session. Not that you’ve progressed very far at all during the many years you’ve been seeing me.”

“That’s not true, Dr. Forereel,” I replied. “You’ve enabled me to understand more accurately and fully who I am. Your insights have helped me come to grips with the fact that, basically, I’m just the most average of Joes, making my way haphazardly and erratically through this earthly realm. Why, without you I’d still be reaching for the stars, getting disappointed right and left when things didn’t work out. As a result, doctor, you’ve turned me into a fairly happy individual. I am in your debt!”

“That’s so kind of you to say, Neil. I wish I could share your opinion of my talents, but I’m afraid that my existential crisis won’t allow me to feel joy.”

“There, you’ve said it again. What the hell is an existential crisis, doctor?”

“Well, my problems are deep-rooted, Neil. You see, I’m ill-fitted to be a psychiatrist. Far too often I’m unsympathetic and, undoubtedly, prickly. If I were of the male gender, it wouldn’t be incorrect to describe me not only as prickly but as a prick too. In any case, my soul is roiling and troubled. Neil, I question the whys and wherefores of my existence.” She paused. “I hope I’ve answered your question adequately,” she then said.

“Yes, doctor, you have. Oy frigging vey! You’re in bad shape. But I’ll try to help, even though help isn’t exactly my middle name. The last time I provided assistance to anyone was 60 years ago, when, despite her vehement protests, I carried a little old lady across a small puddle in the middle of the road. I ended up in juvenile court for that attempt at doing a good deed. Lesson learned!”

“Well, in that case I won’t say that I’m in good hands, Neil. But I am interested in what actions you might be proposing.”

“Doctor, I have a website called Yeah, Another Blogger. That’s where I’ve published the various articles I’ve written over the last seven years. You know about this, I believe.”

Of course I do! You bring up this boring topic every damn time I see you.”

“My bad, doctor. But here’s what I’m getting at: My advice to you is to take up writing, just as I did. You should aim to go farther than me, however. In other words, you should write a book, a memoir of the journey that led you to become the wonderful psychiatrist that you are. If you do, I guarantee you’ll recognize and take comfort from the fact that you’ve guided countless people to better mental and emotional health.”

Dr. Forereel sat silently for many a second, mulling over my comments. Finally, and most energetically, she spoke.

“Neil, this is a genius idea! Yes, yes, yes! I will tell my story, and the world will listen and learn. And, just as important, I will learn too. Thank you so much. I’ll begin writing when I arrive home tonight. I’m sure I’ll need an editor, though. Is there anyone you might recommend?”

“Edgar Reewright is your man, doctor,” I replied without hesitation. “He has edited my pieces right from the start. Maybe we should call him and feel him out.”

Doctor Forereel nodded enthusiastically, so I dialed Edgar’s number and put the phone on speaker.

What the hell do you want, Neil?” Edgar shouted. “I’m in the middle of looking over the story you sent to me yesterday. Per usual, it blows.”

“Listen up, Edgar,” I said, ignoring his insult. “I’m with my psychiatrist, Dr. R. U. Forereel. She plans to write a memoir and wants to know if you’d edit the book for her.”

“Isn’t she the doctor whose office decor was voted best in the nation by the American Psychiatric Association this year?” Edgar asked.

At that, Dr. Forereel jumped right in. “Hello, Edgar! Dr. Forereel here. I’m impressed that you’re aware of the prestigious award I won from the APA. I’d be honored if you’d edit my book. I have so much to say and to reveal. Millions of people will take heart from my inspirational tale. Oh my, I’m feeling confident and purposeful once again. Please be my editor, Edgar!”

Edgar, undoubtedly envisioning a handsome commission, wasted no time in agreeing to the proposal. He chitchatted with Dr. Forereel for a while and then ended the call, promising to contact her soon to work out all the details. A few minutes later, my session having reached its conclusion, I rose from the patient’s chair.

“You are a lifesaver, a gift from above,” said Dr. Forereel as she ushered me to the door. “Thank you, Neil, thank you! To show my gratitude, your next five years of therapy, starting today, will be cost-free.”

“Doctor, I hope that I won’t need anything close to five more years of therapy. I’m doing so well, after all.”

“That’s what you think,” my doctor said. “But, alas, you’re wrong. Very, very wrong. I promise that I’ll continue doing my utmost to try and help you see things more clearly.”


137 thoughts on “Call Me “Mister Helpful”

  1. johnlmalone September 20, 2022 / 12:11 am

    first cab off the rank 🙂 this is immensely entertaining, the most fun I’ve had reading this last week, at least. A

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loristory September 20, 2022 / 12:54 am

    I laughed out loud several times! I love that office decor award.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fran Johns September 20, 2022 / 1:49 am

    Have you considered offering to ghostwrite Dr. Forereel’s memoir — for a hefty fee?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross September 20, 2022 / 2:08 am

    First of all, hilarious, and second, there’s nothing at all wrong with you or your writing! Wonderful, Neil! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  5. joylennick September 20, 2022 / 4:31 am

    Oh, Neil – this is priceless! I am still giggling “Oy frigging veh!” Don ‘t forget I am married to a lovely Jewish man! We celebrate our 70th wedding anniversary, hopefully, in February. (Why do so many Americans have psychiatrists?!) Muy bien. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Paddy Tobin September 20, 2022 / 6:08 am

    Neil, you have brightened the day and brought back memories of a dear and kind psychiatrist I attended for a few years, years when my mind was askew, when I had a thing for jumping off bridges though I was/and still am an excellent swimmer so these episodes were little more than times of getting wet and embarrassed. Unlike your Dr. R. U. Forereel, he wasn’t one for chat/talk therapy – “Paddy, take the pills and forget about this f..king navel gazing they’re all talking about!” I had his personal phone number with instructions to call him whenever I ventured onto a bridge as he wanted to join me/share in the experience – no kidding! I never called him but he did end his days in a mental hospital, the very hospital where he had been the leading consultant for many years. Poor man!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 20, 2022 / 11:41 am

      Your experiences with him are stranger than fiction! It’s incredible that he ended up as a patient in the mental hospital where he once worked as a psychiatrist.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paddy Tobin September 22, 2022 / 5:13 pm

        Fiction makes fun of fact!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Michael Graeme September 20, 2022 / 6:22 am

    Between the good doctor and your editor, you’re clearly doing a fine job, Neil. This was great fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. shoreacres September 20, 2022 / 7:21 am

    What a fun piece of writing. Anyone who can bring me some smiles — and an occasional out-loud laugh — before I’ve finished my first cuppa knows what he’s doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dave September 20, 2022 / 7:41 am

    Love it – the couch on the other side of the room, so to speak. Seems to me you should be sending the good doctor a bill instead of agreeing to free sessions!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anonymous September 20, 2022 / 8:04 am

    Very funny ; but as I’ve told you many times Neil, you’re the one who should write a book !

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Robert Parker September 20, 2022 / 8:37 am

    Wow Neil, you have such interesting delusional episodes! I think the Forereelwright publishing co. will owe you a big chunk of the royalties. Thanks for the laughs this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 20, 2022 / 11:48 am

      You’re right — I want royalties! I’ll have my lawyer make proper arrangements with my psychiatrist and editor.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jacqui Murray September 20, 2022 / 10:32 am

    I am going to give you some advice, Neil. A short story: I just found out my dermatologist tried to kill her husband by dousing his tea with Drano. I dumped her. I suggest you do the same with Dr. R.U.Forereel.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sam Gridley September 20, 2022 / 11:14 am

    You are so correct! All professionals suffering existential crises should become writers. Also, all professionals with top-notch office furniture.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Laurie Graves September 20, 2022 / 11:18 am

    Good job that you could help. And look what you got in return. 😉 Fun piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Donna Cameron September 20, 2022 / 11:40 am

    Surely, Neil, a book of this importance will quickly gain a movie contract. Have you thought yet about who will be playing you? If only Sean Connery were still around … or Paul Newman. It will certainly be one of the Ryans (I can’t tell them apart).

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Anonymous September 20, 2022 / 12:23 pm

    Great blog. I needed this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Alyson September 20, 2022 / 1:02 pm

    Yes, another very funny one from you – thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. tylerus September 20, 2022 / 3:38 pm

    Very entertaining – you have a definite gift for writing. Don’t ever stop.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Paula B September 20, 2022 / 4:02 pm

    “Per usual, it blows.” Ha ha ha ha! So succinct. I feel that way every time I write something, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. JT Twissel September 20, 2022 / 4:41 pm

    So funny! True story – I have a friend who was a therapist and she did decide to write fiction. Last thing I heard, she finished a rough draft and sent it out to some early readers. That was the last I heard of her fiction writing adventure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 20, 2022 / 5:47 pm

      Your friend should get in touch with Edgar Reewright. Edgar will whip the manuscript into shape.


  21. andrewcferguson September 20, 2022 / 4:51 pm

    Sounds like you’ve done the good doctor a solid there, Neil! No copyright in ideas, however – although to be sure you should seek out a GOOD lawyer….

    Liked by 2 people

  22. eden baylee September 20, 2022 / 5:20 pm

    Writing is not for the weak, so I hope your good doctor sticks with it!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. thelongview September 21, 2022 / 3:06 am

    Haha! That was so much fun ! And surprisingly real characters considering it’s a spoof

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Helen Devries September 21, 2022 / 10:22 am

    That made me laugh out loud…dogs very puzzled…and the ending was just superb!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. tanjabrittonwriter September 21, 2022 / 12:27 pm

    I think all of us, psychiatrists or non-psychiatrists alike, are in an existential crisis most of our lives. Only sometimes we can suppress that depressive feeling, and at other times we can’t.
    Maybe I need to have a session with you, Neil?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 21, 2022 / 4:57 pm

      Yeah, life is perplexing, among other things. Here’s something that bothers me: Just about every organism/creature feeds upon other organisms/creatures. Which, to me, means that there is no intrinsic value to life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tanjabrittonwriter September 22, 2022 / 12:08 am

        I know, Neil, I struggle with many similar questions, especially when it comes to the eternal battle between goodness and evil. This troubling question was constantly in my mind when we watched Ken Burns’s “America and the Holocaust.” I have never understood how something so monstrous could ever have happened.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. selizabryangmailcom September 21, 2022 / 2:24 pm

    Ha! Hilarious. Thank you for that!
    “…I carried a little old lady across a small puddle in the middle of the road. I ended up in juvenile court.”
    Exactly! In my next life, I will NOT go the straight and narrow. It has gotten me absolutely NOTHING in this one, lol !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 21, 2022 / 5:01 pm

      Hi. I’m not sure if this relates to what you said, but I think it sort of does: I read a recent interview with Mickey Hart, who was a member of the Grateful Dead. He’s 79, and he still smokes weed and ingests magic mushrooms. He doesn’t, and never has, gone the straight and narrow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • selizabryangmailcom September 23, 2022 / 1:42 pm

        Hello. Yeah, it relates–big time. Remember George Burns’ doctors telling him to stop drinking and smoking cigars, and he was alive and his doctors were all dead? Yep. Props!

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Ally Bean September 22, 2022 / 9:00 am

    A great story which is kind of is how I figure things would go if I ever went to a psychiatrist. He’d be a grump and I’d be trying to get him to read my blog, for context. As one does

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Pazlo September 22, 2022 / 12:23 pm

    So funny, I built a blog then published the book to bring to the world all of my enlightened insight.
    The jacket reads: “It turns out I don’t have anything new to say that hasn’t been covered already by Aristotle, Spinoza and Erma Bombeck, but managed to write a book about it anyway. Be careful though. As I discovered writing the book, you may end up learning something quite by accident.”


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 22, 2022 / 2:43 pm

      Similarly: A guy I went to high school with wrote bestselling books some years later. A friend of mine from the same school said “I’d write a book too. Except that I’ve got nothing to say!”

      Liked by 1 person

  29. talebender September 22, 2022 / 12:45 pm

    This line made me laugh out loud—“Of course I do! You bring up this boring topic every damn time I see you.”
    Your posts are far from boring, I assure you…..despite Mr. Reewright’s efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Eileen Clark September 22, 2022 / 7:00 pm

    Hi, this post is traffic, thanks for sharing it. 🙂


  31. slfinnell September 23, 2022 / 2:55 pm

    I’m so envious! If only I had the guts to do a thing with some of the daycare families I’ve encountered over the years. Kinda afraid it would end up like The Help lol

    Liked by 1 person

  32. viewfromoverthehill September 23, 2022 / 6:44 pm

    I’ve long been convinced all Dr. Forereel’s colleages are nuts anyway. You nailed it here! Chuckle. Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Anonymous September 23, 2022 / 11:44 pm

    Oh, I feel SOOO bad!!! Chuckle. Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

  34. kegarland September 24, 2022 / 12:19 pm

    LOL It’s been a while since we’ve heard from both of these characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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