George and Hilly

HILLY: O.K. if I finish my granola bar?

DR. SELMAN: Yes.

HILLY: You want some?

DR. SELMAN: No, thanks, I’m holding out for dinner. Thought I’d have steak.

GEORGE: Where?

DR. SELMAN: University Club.

GEORGE: Oh wow.

DR. SELMAN: Have you eaten there?

GEORGE: I went there once for some political event. That’s the one that Hillary Clinton got thrown out of? I’ve had a kind of crazy day today. I’ve been on e-mail all day, and I’m beginning to think this is unhealthy. It’s my boarding-school friends, and all we do is sit around at work all day, send up to 150 e-mails a day, and we insult each other relentlessly and try to make each other laugh. I am addicted to it. It’s a potent, dangerous combination to the point where it can affect my mood. It’s just exhausting. Next weekend is the 20th reunion, and we’re all going to meet up in New York. Last time I took mushrooms, so I can see that happening again. I’ve been having fantasies about taking mushrooms once a month and have that be my partying outlet. Not the best idea?

DR. SELMAN: You know, it’s interesting, I’ve heard of a drug called ibogaine. Used as a way to rapidly detox from alcohol.

GEORGE: That sounds familiar. I think they used to use LSD to get people off of alcohol.

DR. SELMAN: It’s something similar; it’s not LSD. But ibogaine, I believe, induces some kind of hallucinatory state. But I think it needs to be given in a rather controlled circumstance.

GEORGE: I was reading this old Playboy interview with Robert Graves, and he thought that 15-year-olds should be locked in a room with very little to eat and then administered some hallucinogen, and then taught the moral lessons of life. So there’s some legitimacy to this. You don’t have any of this drug, do you?

DR. SELMAN: No, and if I did, I wouldn’t give you any. Would you do mushrooms also, Hilly?

HILLY: I don’t think I’ve ever done them with George.

GEORGE: You would never do them with me?

HILLY: Would I? Probably, yeah.

GEORGE: Just as a therapeutic exercise, not as a party drug. We go out into the woods or something.

DR. SELMAN: The only way it would be therapeutic is if you had some sort of treatment. Who’s going to be doing the treatment?

GEORGE: I don’t know. You got any ideas? If we allowed ourselves to do that one weekend a month, maybe that would be something to look forward to. So, Hilly, how was your day?

HILLY: It was O.K.

GEORGE: Did we keep you up last night? My brother left around 2:30 a.m., but she doesn’t mind. She’s a real heavy sleeper. So if I could be the ball hog this time, there are some things I’d like to bring up. If it’s something irrelevant, you can just say “skip.” We’ve bared our souls—what’s the verdict?

DR. SELMAN: Skip.

GEORGE: And I have a narcissistic personality?

DR. SELMAN: Skip.

GEORGE: Neurotic? Crazy?

DR. SELMAN: Skip.

GEORGE: Church! We haven’t been going to church. I did watch A Man for all Seasons—

HILLY: We couldn’t go to church; we were in East Hampton.

GEORGE: There’s a church there, but the service began at 10 a.m. Then last Sunday we sat around the apartment, listened to Alice in Chains and had sex. In that same interview with Robert Graves, he says talking about sex is “anti-human,” meaning something you should avoid, tasteless. What do you think?

DR. SELMAN: This is coming from a man who would lock a child in a room and give them drugs?

GEORGE: Good point. And I think he had some strange relationships with women. And men. So I don’t know about church anymore. That might have been just a phase. I’ve been flirting with not renewing the lease of our apartment. I’m 99.9 percent sure I’m going to renew.

DR. SELMAN: What would be the outcome if you didn’t?

GEORGE: Well, we have July to decide whether we rent or buy a two-bedroom apartment—or I move in with my grandmother in Kansas City, take a year sabbatical.

DR. SELMAN: You’d go together to Kansas City?

GEORGE: Maybe. What do you think is going to happen? I’m going to renew the lease, right?

HILLY: I hope so!

DR. SELMAN: I would have to think you would, George. That was your stated goal in the beginning of treatment.

GEORGE: Once in a while, I’ll wake up and my first thought, totally involuntary, just pops in there: I gotta get outta here. Meaning out of New York.

DR. SELMAN: And get away from Hilly?

GEORGE: Like I said, a sabbatical. One fantasy I have is to move to San Francisco. This friend of mine separated from his wife, has this company out West. And I’d like to help him out. But don’t worry, I’m not going to do that. Another thing is, from age 13 to 30, all my confidence was tied up in women, plural, girls. And now that’s over with.

DR. SELMAN: How do you mean?

GEORGE: Well, I’m in a relationship, so that’s just out of the question now.

DR. SELMAN: It means your life is over!

GEORGE: No, it’s just against the rules. And I understand that. So I wake up and have these thoughts.

DR. SELMAN: What do you think about what George is saying?

HILLY: Well, I think the threats about moving out of the city are lame, and I think part of the reason that he wakes up and freaks out is that this apartment is so cluttered and messy that his mind starts to feel the same way.

DR. SELMAN: You think that’s true, George?

GEORGE: Yes, when the place is cleaned up, it’s a lot better.

DR. SELMAN: You know, Hilly, George has already said that he refuses to clean up after himself—like after he eats, the dishes remain in the sink. If he spills something on the floor, he’ll just leave it and—

GEORGE: Baba threw up again today and I’m waiting for it to harden.

DR. SELMAN: So why would you think that cleanliness would be something that George—

HILLY: Well, I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I don’t know if you actually grasp the concept of what degree of cleanliness we’re talking about here. I mean, it’s incredible—it’s seriously a talent that he has for being able to produce as much garbage, dirty dishes and dirty laundry as he is able to do in such a brief amount of time.

DR. SELMAN: That’s my point. I do have a concept of it. So, keeping that in mind, why would you think that he would consider the apartment more habitable if it was something other than that?

HILLY: Well, I don’t think this particular apartment ever could be, because there’s not enough space. It would be easier if we have a bigger space.

DR. SELMAN: But there are things a person can do, like cleaning up after themselves, or if the cat vomits on the floor, wiping it up—

GEORGE: Wait—did you see what she just did? She reached over to me and whispered, “ Awww, Scoopie.” This is one thing that I would like to know: Is it healthy for her to treat me like a 7-year-old? The baby talk: “Aww, the little baby wants his newspaper and a bubble bath.” She is the mom and I’m the 7-year-old, and it’s a very comforting, seductive thing. But is that good?

DR. SELMAN [ laughing]: Good for who?

GEORGE: Now look, just be our life coach. This is good? You think this is good?

DR. SELMAN: As opposed to what?

GEORGE: As opposed to being, let’s say, a grown-up, responsible, can-do New York yuppie couple? “Hello, honey, are we meeting the Bells at Blue Water Grill at 7?”

DR. SELMAN: I would have to think that if you both didn’t find something seductive about it, and enjoyable, you wouldn’t do it.

GEORGE: Well, maybe that contributes to the mess in the apartment—if I’m encouraged to act like a 7-year-old.

HILLY: When you were a little boy, didn’t you have chores? Because even little kids have to do stuff, and you can make a game out of it, like Sue Ann Nivens in Mary Tyler Moore, who would say to her kid, “Pretend that your room is a clock and you start at 12 and you go all the way around and you clean it up.”

GEORGE: Are we going to talk about cleanliness the whole time? Let’s talk about that night that our friend spilled beer in your hair? And you started screaming, “Mother- fucker!” And you picked up a barstool and you were about to throw it at him. First you threw your drink at him, and then you picked up a barstool.

HILLY: Well, he did it on purpose. And it wasn’t like we were at “21” or something. We were in a dive bar where that kind of behavior is actually kind of expected.

DR. SELMAN: Would you have done it?

HILLY: No, but I kind of wanted to hit him with it.

GEORGE: Whoa!

HILLY: Not to the point of drawing blood or breaking bones or anything, but I just felt like hitting something. Just beating something.

GEORGE: If I said that, oh my God.

HILLY: And then, the night after, I had a dream about beating someone else with a chair. A girl I used to work with.

DR. SELMAN: How much had you had to drink that night?

HILLY: Which night?

DR. SELMAN: The barstool night.

HILLY: Oh, a significant amount. But I’m very rarely violent like that.

GEORGE: Hilly has not yet paid her share of the rent this month. Not entirely confident she’s going to come through.

DR. SELMAN: Maybe she’s looking to get thrown out.

GEORGE: Anything to say in your defense?

HILLY: Well, in terms of living quarters, you don’t make it very desirable—like the kind of thing that I’d want to put my money into.

DR. SELMAN: So you’re on a rent strike?

HILLY: No, I’m irresponsible too, but it’s just sometimes I get mad. I think, “My God, he’s got that whole room in there, and he still takes up all of this space in the living room with his stuff and his mess,” and I try to clean up, but then more and more and more accumulates. And I spend my money to buy things like laundry baskets, and he still puts the laundry on the floor—

DR. SELMAN: Well, that’s what I said: What makes you think that George would feel more comfortable in a larger space that’s less cluttered, when he doesn’t do anything to unclutter the space he’s already living in?

GEORGE: So you’re withholding rent because I—

HILLY: No! I’m withholding rent because I don’t have any money.

GEORGE: Well, how much is a bottle of Sancerre every night?

HILLY: Around 20 bucks.

GEORGE: That adds up—$600 a month? It’s O.K. I’m sorry. You actually did pay $300 more than I did last month when I was broke.

DR. SELMAN: Where does your money go?

GEORGE: Well, we know that it goes into her hair.

DR. SELMAN: Because you’re not paying rent, and you no longer have to pay for your previous apartment, so how—

HILLY: I really don’t want to talk about it.

GEORGE: I’ll tell you where my money goes. Last night she had me meet her at a fashion-party nightmare, and afterward I suggested we go to a diner, and the next thing I know, I’m paying for a $150 dinner at Pop Burger. Hilly had three glasses of wine.

HILLY: O.K., in my defense, the night before I’d had two hours of sleep. I put in a full day of work and gotten a lot of stuff accomplished—and you are at home the entire day, just sleeping. So the first glass was the hair of the dog.

GEORGE: You’re right. Have you had any good dreams lately?

HILLY: The one about kicking the bejesus out of that girl I used to work with. Then the other night I had this really violent one. This other girl I used to work with.

GEORGE: Had any of the dreams of you being chased?

HILLY: I haven’t recently. I think I feel a lot more secure living with George. It’s nice!

GEORGE: She hasn’t woken me up in a month since she rearranged the apartment. It’s working out.

HILLY: It’s nice to know that someone’s there, that he’s there, even though he’s a little piggy.

GEORGE: Yeah, we’re getting along O.K. We haven’t had any fights—

HILLY: It’s getting better. The messiness and stuff.

DR. SELMAN: It’s getting better?

HILLY: Definitely.

DR. SELMAN: After what you just described ….

HILLY: Well, now he’ll leave his boxers next to the laundry basket, instead of on the coffee table.

GEORGE: You should nag at me at home, because that will train me.

DR. SELMAN: When is your lease up?

GEORGE: We have to renew by June 15.

DR. SELMAN: That’s next week!

GEORGE: I always wait till last minute.

DR. SELMAN: And you’ve looked at other apartments?

GEORGE: Yeah, we looked at one that was great. It was like $1 million. That might have to be way down the road. But I think we’re doing O.K. where we are. I’m sleeping better. I’ve made an appointment with a sleep-disorder clinic.

DR. SELMAN: If you’re sleeping fine, why would you make an appointment—

GEORGE: I’ve just been sleeping better. But occasionally, I have to take a half a Klonopin.

DR. SELMAN: Alcohol can impair one’s sleep.

GEORGE: Actually, in my case, it helps knock me out. It’s when I have only one beer that I’m in trouble. Like today I got up at noon—

DR. SELMAN: You could try Ambien.

GEORGE: I have Ambien, but I don’t really like it. Last night, let me just confess, I took a half of Vicodin. Oh God! It’s really good stuff. I wouldn’t want to have a prescription. I mean, I could control it. It definitely takes the edge off. Hilly put a framed picture of an ex-girlfriend of mine next to my cat’s litter box.

DR. SELMAN: Ex-girlfriend of yours?

HILLY: Behind the litter box. So Baba will kick the litter onto it. Ha ha ha ha! No, actually, there really wasn’t anywhere else to put it. [HILLY snickers.]

GEORGE: Did you also break the glass part of it?

HILLY: Nooooo.

GEORGE: I only get to see this person maybe two times a year. I always thought you two would get along.

HILLY: She was mean to me, and she ignores me every time we’ve run into each other.

GEORGE: You think that pretty much all other women are sluts.

HILLY: No, I don’t.

GEORGE: What percentage?

HILLY: It depends. The circles that you hang around, a pretty large percentage. That big fat girl whose hands were all over you last night.

GEORGE: Her hands were on me? Nuh-uh.

HILLY: When you said she smelled pretty—that was just disgusting.

GEORGE: I did two things that were really impulsive last night. We are at this Spanish restaurant with some friends, and these three ne’er-do-well, riffy-raffy characters were outside smoking, and one of them fell and cut his forehead open. Blood everywhere. And I said, “I’m calling the police.” And they’re like, “No, no.” And the bar owner said, “Don’t get the police over here.” And friends of mine were like, “Hey, mellow out.” And I said, “Forget it, this guy is going to fall into a coma. He needs like 20 stitches!” So I call the police, and this guy’s friends were insulting me and my suit, calling me fat, but I felt like I did the right thing. I flicked my cigarette at one of these guys, but he didn’t do anything.

DR. SELMAN: A lit cigarette?

HILLY: It wasn’t like he threw it at them. He flicked it in his direction.

DR. SELMAN: Provocative.

GEORGE: Then I went over to Siberia, and there was this girl there I knew and she smelled really bad, and my friends and I had just been talking about how if someone has bad breath or B.O., you should tell them—it’s for their own good. So this girl had been dancing all night and she smelled, so I told her that, and brought her outside to meet the chubby girl who smelled so good.

HILLY: Fat.

GEORGE: And I ordered her to smell her. This is not something I would ever have done sober. She’ll never forget that.

DR. SELMAN: It really seems that alcohol dominates your life. Alcohol and drugs.

GEORGE: Yikes.

DR. SELMAN: You both like drinking, and you get into wacky situations.

GEORGE: Well, I think that’s one topic.

DR. SELMAN: Alcohol-fueled.

[ Silence.]

GEORGE: That same night as the barstool, I ended up at a floozy’s apartment with two friends of mine, and one of them was making time with the floozy and …. Oh, I didn’t tell you about this?

HILLY: So gross.

GEORGE: So this other friend of mine and I were cockblocking the guy, saying things to prevent him from …. We were screaming things like, you know, “He likes to ejaculate on women’s faces!”

DR. SELMAN: This is a true story? You were there?

HILLY: No!

DR. SELMAN: This was the barstool night?

GEORGE: This was later, at about 5 in the morning.

DR. SELMAN: In other words, you didn’t go home together that night?

HILLY: We almost never do, because he stays out.

DR. SELMAN: Beyond that?

HILLY: Ha ha ha ha ha …. Yeah. But it’s been a long time since we had a bender like that.

GEORGE: I’m doing everything I can to avoid those nights.

DR. SELMAN: Remember that movie Leaving Las Vegas?

HILLY: We’re part of the special breed.

DR. SELMAN: Well, but you said when you get home and you’re together, you like to act like you’re the mother and you’re the little baby.

HILLY: Well, especially, my gosh, it’s so funny, on the day after a big bender like that—

DR. SELMAN: Which is what, every other day?

GEORGE: No!

HILLY: He’s so funny—he’s so infantile and needy, really whiny. Was that yesterday or the day before when you were just curled up under the blanket on the couch all day?

GEORGE: Yes, but you encourage me to act that way, and I play right into it. It works both ways. I turn into a mama’s boy. But you like that, don’t you? Yes. Do you like when I act like a real man?

HILLY: What do you mean?

DR. SELMAN: How long do you think you guys can carry on like this?

HILLY: We have to move.

DR. SELMAN: I wasn’t referring to that. How long can you have these late nights and not have it affect you health-wise or career-wise?

GEORGE: This is not every night, and we do have fun when we go out. I think pizza’s a bigger problem.

DR. SELMAN: It’s once or twice a week. Thirty percent of the time.

HILLY: But it hasn’t been twice a week.

DR. SELMAN: So it’s once a week. That’s 50 times a year.

GEORGE: So maybe we should calculate that between now and the end of the year, I can only go out 25 more times. Is that a good goal?

HILLY: It won’t work.

DR. SELMAN: It won’t work. It’s absurd.

HILLY: The bottom line is, we need to stop hanging out at places that tolerate that kind of behavior. Picking up barstools and threatening to hit people.

DR. SELMAN: You know, theoretically, throwing beer in your hair is a mildly violent act. Aggressive. So then when you retaliate in a way that is arguably threatening, one might think that the person who spilled beer in your hair, who was already hostile and aggressive, might …. Everybody’s out of control. I think the very fact that I have to point out to you guys that there’s something wrong with this behavior is in itself bizarre. I mean, you should know this. So what’s going to happen, are we going to sign the lease?

GEORGE: I keep getting real close to leaving New York and then it sucks me back in. [ Pointing to an artifact behind DR. SELMAN’s desk.] What’s that, an Egyptian head? That’s pretty cool. And what would Freud say about us?

DR. SELMAN: You drink too much.

GEORGE: That’s it?

DR. SELMAN: You drink too much and you don’t have enough sex.

GEORGE: We’ve had less sex since she moved my big bed from the living room into my bedroom. I think I liked doing it out there and not shutting the blinds. Is that weird?

DR. SELMAN: Your neighbors could yell out and cockblock you.

GEORGE: Would Freud say it’s O.K. to do it in public?

DR. SELMAN: You keep the lights on?

GEORGE: Yeah. What else would Freud say? Stop drinking and have more sex?

DR. SELMAN: Well, he’d probably say that since Hilly treats you like a child, that you’re really having sex with your mother. An Oedipal complex.

GEORGE: Oh boy. Now I regret asking that.

DR. SELMAN: You asked!

GEORGE: Well, the good thing is, he’s been more or less totally discredited, right?

DR. SELMAN: No.

[ To be continued.]

—George Gurley

Prior Articles: George and Hilly published 06/19/06 George and Hilly published 05/29/06 George and Hilly published 05/15/06 George and Hilly published 05/08/06 George and Hilly published 05/01/06 George and Hilly published 04/17/06 George and Hilly published 04/03/06 George and Hilly published 03/20/06 George and Hilly published 02/6/06 George and Hilly published 01/23/06 George and Hilly published 01/16/06 George and Hilly published 12/26/05 George and Hilly published 11/14/05 George and Hilly published 11/07/05 George and Hilly published 10/24/05 George and Hilly published 10/17/05 George 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

George and Hilly