HILLY came late to our sixth session of couples therapy ….
GEORGE: I’m kind of shocked you were late. It’s unlike you.
HILLY: Sorry! It’s, what, 10 minutes?
GEORGE: That’s not a big deal, right?
DR. SELMAN: It’s as big a deal as you make it.
GEORGE: Where were you?
HILLY: At work. It just takes a long time to get here.
DR. SELMAN: How are you feeling about it?
GEORGE: I think she might have gone somewhere after work. Right?
HILLY: [laughing] I didn’t.
GEORGE: I thought maybe you were nervous that we were going to talk about sex. Might have had a drink after work.
HILLY: I was nervous that we were going to talk about sex and did have a drink.
DR. SELMAN: You had a drink before coming here?
HILLY: Yes, I’m sorry—I know that’s against the rules. It’s Friday. I had a glass of wine.
GEORGE: I thought we’d talk about our weekend. Went to my mother’s place in the Hamptons.
HILLY: Well, we got there late Friday, his brother Jack was there, and he said that this woman was in the pool.
GEORGE: This woman I wrote about, this Russian party girl, sexpot, outrageous. Hilly and I have been out with her a few times.
HILLY: So Jack said that Inna was there, and that she’d been staying there as a houseguest. At first we thought he was playing a joke, because she’s a really overbearing personality. She almost never stops talking and she has an opinion on everything. But it was funny because Jack was actually telling the truth—she was there.
DR. SELMAN: A real guest?
GEORGE: It turned out that Jack was pranking me. He had run into her at the Jitney, invited her over. He thought it would be really funny saying she’d been there a few days. It actually really stressed me out. But it worked out—she stayed and the four of us watched Eye of the Needle. Then what did we do the rest of the weekend?
HILLY: You had wanted me to wake you up on Saturday, but you wouldn’t let me. We played golf on Sunday.
GEORGE: And I didn’t really let you play, but you drove the golf cart.
HILLY: It was really fun.
DR. SELMAN: So you discussed in advance to talk about sex?
HILLY: You gave us an assignment, which was that George would—instead of staying out late—would go home with me to have personal affairs.
DR. SELMAN: Did that work out?
HILLY: No, he didn’t do it. He actually went out, he didn’t invite me, and the next day there was a picture of him on newyorksocialdiary.com with Lauren Davis, probably the most gorgeous woman in the whole city.
GEORGE: Actually I was working, interviewing someone at that party. But we have been intimate a number of times since we were last here. So no problems there! Did I tell you it’s official: I’ve had sex with you more than anyone else in my life?
DR. SELMAN: How would you know that?
GEORGE: There are only two or three other possibilities. But that’s something there, right?
DR. SELMAN: What do you think that means?
GEORGE: Well, it means we’ve been together for a long time and we’re still doing that. Still having sex! I was thinking it’s a good thing. When we do it, we don’t need a lot of bells and whistles—it’s pretty straightforward. Aside from doing it on the floor or maybe foreplay when I’m driving sometimes ….
HILLY: Oh, yeah.
GEORGE: One time I asked you to do that thing, to go out in the hallway and … never mind. Is this making you uncomfortable?
HILLY: Um, a little, yeah.
DR. SELMAN: She did have a drink before she came.
GEORGE: How many drinks?
HILLY [laughing]: One large glass of wine.
GEORGE: Can I tell the story? This was maybe six months into our relationship. I think I was just kidding, picked this up from a Fellini movie: I wanted her to go out in the hallway and then knock on the door and pretend to have knocked on the wrong door. Maybe there was something about wearing a wig ….
HILLY: A wig, yes.
GEORGE: She didn’t like that.
HILLY: The whole wig thing makes me think that you’d like to imagine I was someone else.
GEORGE: I just thought it would be funny if you wore a red or green wig. Just for fun.
DR. SELMAN: I’m curious, do you have any feelings about George going out that night and not inviting you, and then you see him on a Web site?
HILLY: Um, you know what bothered me? You called me from one of the parties and told me, “But I did invite you.” You actually hadn’t. I was fine, I was out with girlfriends, I was in bed by 11:30. Which is what I’d wanted. But the fact that you thought you had invited me, but you actually hadn’t ….
DR. SELMAN: What do you take that to mean?
HILLY: I guess he probably was nervous. I think you said, “You should have come to this. I can’t believe you’re not here. You would have had so much fun.” I said, “Well, I would have, but you didn’t invite me.”
GEORGE: I’m sorry; I didn’t know what it was going to be like. I was going there to interview someone, and then I realized it was the kind of thing where you could have been there.
HILLY: That’s fine. But, I don’t know, next time just say that instead of “I did invite you.”
DR. SELMAN: What about that is so troubling?
HILLY: I guess the dishonesty.
HILLY [laughing]: I don’t think it was a blatant …. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to lie to me. And wasn’t I in a really cranky mood all week?
GEORGE: It sounds like you are right now.
DR. SELMAN: Are you in a cranky mood?
GEORGE: She has been for the past few days.
DR. SELMAN: Something you’d like to talk about?
HILLY: I feel like I don’t have time to get everything done at work. The day goes by so quickly, and before I know it it’s 6 o’clock.
DR. SELMAN: How would you define “cranky”?
HILLY: Just a pretty negative mood all day and highly irritable.
GEORGE: Nothing I did, right?
DR. SELMAN: Why would you think you had a hand in it?
GEORGE: Sometimes, if I press her, she’ll go, “Well, there is this one thing you did.”
HILLY: Well … last night I thought I was supposed to come over, and usually when George has a big night out, the day after he’s really looking forward to our time together. So he had a big night on Wednesday—
GEORGE: The same night we were just talking about.
HILLY: No, the night after that.
GEORGE: No, I only went out that one night.
HILLY: No, Tuesday night was the Carolina Herrera party and Wednesday night was Andrew.
GEORGE: No, that was all the same night.
HILLY: I’m sorry—you’re right. But I thought I was going to come over yesterday, but you nipped that in the bud.
GEORGE: I did?
HILLY: Just because you had to work.
GEORGE: Yeah, been behind on some things.
HILLY: But that’s nothing I’ve been dwelling on.
GEORGE: Well, you’re gonna come over later, right? But I can’t take you out to dinner. She told you I have to postdate a check? I have this fantasy life where I get fixated on things. The latest one is, I have to get out of print journalism. I’m 37 and it’s just not …. I have $10 in the bank. This doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s sort of like I’m stuck. I can’t go to business school. So I’ll fantasize for hours about how I’m going to go back to Lawrence, Kan., get an apartment for $400 a month and just sit around and read. Get my job back at the Free State Brewery, washing dishes.
DR. SELMAN: You ever see the Twilight Zone episode “Hooverville”?
DR. SELMAN: Hooverville. The guy falls asleep on the train, and he wakes up and he’s in Hooverville, and he grew up there.
GEORGE: What happens?
DR. SELMAN: It’s a Twilight Zone episode. There’s always an irony involved.
GEORGE: Well I could go back to K.U. Do that for a year or two.
DR. SELMAN: Where would Hilly be while all this goes on?
GEORGE: She could come and visit. I’m sure I’d come back here. It’s just a fantasy—it’s not something I’m going to do.
HILLY: See, I have a theory, though—and this is probably way out-of-line for me to be saying—but I’ve always had this feeling that the publications you write for are taking advantage of you. Because he is so well-known and so well-regarded, and I have this feeling that maybe your forte is maybe not to negotiate finances.
GEORGE: I don’t understand why print journalists are paid so little. Why not pay lawyers like that?
DR. SELMAN: So you’re unhappy with your life and you would like to run away from it?
DR. SELMAN: Well, it’s interesting. If you’re so dissatisfied with your life the way it is, aren’t there other ways out—other than running away and becoming a busboy in Kansas? There are any number of changes you can make in your life right now.
GEORGE: What’s my point? O.K., this is a young man’s profession. I can’t do this kind of thing when I’m 50. O.K., write a book—I’d have to find some great subject, and I’d have to spend a year following these people around. Then it’ll be another year and half to write it, and then it’ll come out another year later, and 10,000 people read it. That’s like four years. Can we talk about you and your “cooking”?
GEORGE: This is one thing we have that’s an issue. What am I about to say?
HILLY: George doesn’t like the fact that I don’t wake up in the morning and whip up a batch of, what, hotcakes. I don’t know—what do you want?
GEORGE: That’s not it.
HILLY: And that, late at night, I can’t run into the kitchen and suddenly make caviar and gravlax appear.
HILLY: So finally I did try to cook for him a few times, and it made him sick. He was ill for two days. I made chicken and dumplings.
GEORGE: Pretty much every time we go out to dinner—except maybe one occasion—I’ve paid for it, right? Right?
HILLY: I don’t keep track.
GEORGE: I just thought maybe it would be nice if we went to the grocery store and we made dinner. We’ve never done that.
HILLY: Well, because two people aren’t allowed in the kitchen at the same time.
GEORGE: We can take turns. I love going out to dinner with you, but it’s always, “I wanna go to Isabella’s.”
DR. SELMAN: Who pays when you go out?
GEORGE: I do. Every time. “I wanna go to Shun Lee … Mr. Chow.”
HILLY: That’s the way things work.
GEORGE: Listen to that. Why? The boy—
HILLY: You’re a man. I’m a woman. I have to pay for cosmetics, highlights, clothes, high heels, shoe repairs, stockings, lots of stuff. Lots of hair expenses.
GEORGE: How much does your hair cost?
HILLY: A lot of money.
GEORGE: Hundreds, right?
HILLY: Yeah. And that’s just the way things work. You don’t have to deal with that stuff.
GEORGE: She’s serious, by the way. Can we have an interpretation?
HILLY: Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned this way. The tables might turn if we were legally bound to each other. And we shared a bank account or something.
GEORGE: I think someone could argue if you go out with someone for three and half years, maybe they could pay for the occasional taxi.
HILLY: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
GEORGE: The occasional movie.
DR. SELMAN: You could get married, George, and write about how horrible it is.
DR. SELMAN: It occurs to me that since things are so horrible the way you are—I mean, assuming that you’re not entirely enamored with the way things are going—that you could make changes to your life even within your relationship. You could get married. That would be a change. Move in together.
GEORGE: Well, now, that’s sort of … O.K. now.
DR. SELMAN: Wouldn’t that change things?
HILLY: Well, I wouldn’t move in. I would not want to live with you. Unless we were … the “M” word. But like, ideally, what I would love is if we had some kind of a place where we lived, and I was upstairs and you were downstairs.
GEORGE: Separate bathrooms.
HILLY: Separate bathrooms, separate bedrooms.
GEORGE: And a country house. Yeah, that’s realistic when you’re making what I’m making.
DR. SELMAN: Why would you want to get married to someone who makes so little money?
HILLY: Because I love Georgie.
DR. SELMAN: So she would have you despite that.
GEORGE: Wait—I sometimes worry that I have the appearance of being well-to-do, don’t I?
HILLY: George, you walk around with holes in your shoes!
GEORGE: It’s always going to be like this.
HILLY: I don’t care. Maybe our two-story apartment with adjoining staircase will be in Hoboken. I don’t even think we can afford that.
GEORGE. So we’ve covered sex, money.
DR. SELMAN: You want to change the topic?
GEORGE: No. Things will probably work out. In my career. I am getting money next week. So money won’t be a concern. It’s kind of fun being broke. What can we do with this $40. How much do you have?
HILLY: I think about $15.
GEORGE: We can’t really go out anywhere, but that’s O.K.
DR. SELMAN: How do you end up with more money than she does?
HILLY: I almost never have a dime to my name. I have to pay for cat food with pennies. It’s pathetic.
DR. SELMAN: Why do you have to spend it all on hair and cosmetics?
HILLY: It’s expensive to live in Manhattan and be blond.
GEORGE: You order from the Cowgirl Hall of Fame every night.
HILLY: No. Haven’t ordered there in three months. I feel confident at the rate things are going, within the next couple of years, I’ll be making considerably more. I love my job; I think I’m on a good path to greater success, career-wise.
GEORGE: I was going to ask you about Freud.
DR. SELMAN: What about him?
GEORGE: Just because we have this picture of his office on the wall. I know very little about him … [to HILLY] Do you know anything about Freud?
HILLY: Yes. I remember the first time you came to my apartment, you saw The Interpretation of Dreams on my bookshelf and you said, “What are you doing with that?”
DR. SELMAN: How do you think talking about Freud would be relevant to your couples therapy?
GEORGE: We have this picture of his office here, right? I thought we could relate it somehow.
DR. SELMAN: So you see me as like a latter-day Freud?
GEORGE: No, I just thought it would be cool to learn, to have some insight into him.
DR. SELMAN: Freud had an interesting life.
GEORGE: What do you think he would make of us?
DR. SELMAN: Probably the same thing I make of you. I feel that that took the focus off of what we were talking about.
GEORGE: What were we talking about before?
DR. SELMAN: Well, you started out saying how dissatisfied you were with just about everything—to the point where you’d move to Lawrence, Kan. And there was even some talk of the “M” word here.
DR. SELMAN: That was one of the original issues that you wanted to work on in couples therapy.
GEORGE: Right, right.
DR. SELMAN: It seemed like we were sort of touching upon it.
GEORGE: I think it’s a good step that I can at least talk about it. Part of me has a real fear of that. Terror.
DR. SELMAN: We also talked about antidepressants.
GEORGE: [to HILLY] You thought it was a bad idea, right?
HILLY: Um ….
GEORGE: What are the side effects?
DR. SELMAN: Well, we were just discussing different options. Another was for you to drink less.
GEORGE: Once or twice a week. I like to have a wild night on the town—I gotta do that once a week.
DR. SELMAN: But you yourself said that you can’t be doing this anymore.
GEORGE: You’re right. The other night, I ended up back in a friend’s apartment with a bunch of people at 5 a.m. We were watching some dumb video with a retarded guy going around interviewing people. This is going to sound really awful, but at one point, someone pulled a gun. It wasn’t loaded. But he was like, “Hey, look what I got here!”
DR. SELMAN: This was in the apartment? This was not the video?
GEORGE [to HILLY]: Did I tell you about this incident?
HILLY: No. I knew he had a gun, though.
GEORGE: Anyway, I left after the gun came out.
DR. SELMAN: Wise choice. Who had the gun?
GEORGE: Some guy I know. I know how it sounds, but—
DR. SELMAN: How does it sound?
GEORGE: Like that might have been a really bad scene.
HILLY: Ha ha ha! Like New Jack City!
DR. SELMAN: I guess we should end it here on this happy note.
[to be continued]
George and Hilly published 10/17/05George and Hilly published 10/10/05
George and Hilly published 10/03/05
George ’n’ Hilly, Back in Couples, Turn on the Doc published 09/26/05
But Should We Get Married? Part III published 08/29/05
But Should We Get Married? published 08/15/05
Should I Get Married? My Hilly Joining Me In Couples Session published 08/08/05