The Garden Cafe

Friday, September 16, 2011

It would be better if I told them what he's not (but I won't). You know who I mean.

It was you who suggested that I could actually post this here. I didn't know where to put what I know about a notorious person in town, because I would have to hide my identity. It never occurred to me that I could hide his. "You don't have to say who it is," you said, a little deviously.

It also didn't occur to me that I might have to hide other things about him. The problem is he's notorious enough that if I say what his profession is, they will know who he is. So much of what I have to say about him has to do with his profession. His personality is related to his profession. What's interesting about his life? His profession. If it weren't for what he does, he would just be yet another baby boomer who finds himself endlessly interesting. So what can I say about him?

I can say those things about him they wouldn't know from his marketing or from his work. You already know these things not just because I've ranted to you about him, but also because you've worked with him, or rather he for you. His working habits are interesting. It seems interest is, ultimately, what both his stories and his working habits are supposed to elicit. His friend says to him "oh that's interesting..." He himself will not gush about his accomplishments; that's up to his audience. One wonders what exactly his profession is. While on the one hand his job is to make his clients into performers, he, in the end, is the performance. Technically his job is technical, but actually he's an analyst, or rather, he would like to be an analyst, and his job allows him to play out his dream of being incisively analytic. He makes an incision, and aims to heal. He creates an intervention, as they say.

Here is what he does--one of his proud moments of what his friend calls 'edginess' (again, it's his friends job to praise): he asks his client, who is getting married, if there have been any major exes, any drama. She says yes, actually, with the brother of her fiancé. So he singles them out somehow, I can't tell them how. I can't tell them how because then they would know what he does (although honestly they have probably already guessed), and then they would know who he is. It's too bad because I have to admit there's a bit of poetry in the way he does it, and it's only his profession that puts him in a position that allows him to do it this way.

His profession gives him a surprising amount of intimacy with his clients. Perhaps this is what drew him to it. He never believed anyone but himself was alright on their own. He always thought they needed to be changed. He believed, in other words, in the power and necessity of what he wanted. But he didn't see it as what he wanted, the pleasure for him was not just incidental, but such a given that he didn't notice it. It wasn't that he had desires. No, they needed his help and he could help them. It was as simple as that. In his profession he finally found a way to do this.

But anyway, these two brothers, he puts them together. They haven't spoken for years--something out of a movie script. The two don't say anything right then. But who knows. "I don't know if their relationship changed. I don't know if they spoke again. But maybe they did, maybe that opened up some kind of dialog, and that's enough for me," he says.

This healer who, as his friend puts it, "diagnoses" his clients even diagnoses why his clients are uncomfortable with his treatment. "It's always the guys," he says. He believes in the goodness of his work; any resistance to it can only be some kind of false consciousness, some kind of irrationality that might be fixed. "I realized it's all about fear," he says, "and that gives me an angle. I understand what that's about, so I can relate to them. I can try to break the ice and make them feel more comfortable. Sometimes I give them a lollipop, and that makes them laugh, that helps." This tendency for men to distrust him (or to be afraid of him) both fascinates and, obviously, irritates him. They don't know what they're missing. If they would only let go. To fuel his fascination (and to attempt to satisfy it) he reads sociology books. He tries to understand why this might be. He is not the kind of old man who ossifies; he's agile in that curious way, however self-satisfied he might be in his questions.

I am still afraid that they'll know who I'm talking about, well, no, not exactly that. It's more that I'm afraid word will somehow get back to him, and that he will read this, or be told about it. I would die. I'm using him. I'm writing about a character that of course is him, but also not. If I were forced into a defensive position I would begin emphasizing the difference between the character that I've written here and the "real" him. It's not really him I've written about, I would say, he was just inspiration. Isn't that flattering? I would ask, smiling sleazily and batting my eyes. You laugh. You think I'm paranoid, don't you?

That's why I'm handwriting this. My handwriting is so illegible that it creates a kind of privacy. Sitting behind me, he couldn't possibly know that I'm writing about him. I look lost in something far from here. If he walked by, and glanced at the page he probably couldn't make out a word. I haven't written his name.

Sound really carries outside on this patio. It's the perfect place to eavesdrop. Some places are crowded, play loud music, and the sound of the espresso machine drowns out half of conversations. All of the seating here is outside, and there are no speakers out here. It's really quite nice, I don't know why we haven't come here before. Oh, right, it's a bit of a walk. All the same, I would say we should go next week, but they may be closed by then. It's relatively pleasant now, sheltered from the wind here. But it won't last long. Soon they will have to close for the winter. Okay, okay, the fall. As far as I'm concerned when you can't sit comfortably outside in a t-shirt during the daytime, it's winter.

It's not just his profession that would give him away. The other problem is that I've told them that I've hidden his identity, and that he's notorious. I could have written this without waving the fact that I'm hiding his identity in their faces. I could've just been writing about some guy, and they would have never wondered.

But no, I had to do it this way.

If they know, I hope they won't tell anyone. Please tell me you won't.

What is psychocafegraphy? That which can't be said. I write what I write here because I can't write what I want to write. It's what's left over.