George and Hilly: Prisoners of Roosevelt Island

DR. SELMAN: Went to the bathroom in your head.

GEORGE: That’s from Withnail and I. Hilly didn’t like it.

HILLY: But regardless of this, even on nights when you get plenty of sleep, every day—

DR. SELMAN: Wait a second. How do you feel about what he just said?

HILLY: It’s nasty.

DR. SELMAN: Here you are, you put on this great party and you’re giving George a pep talk, saying how all these people came to his party to show how much they love him, and you were hoping that he would get encouraged by all that, and George’s response is that he feels like a pig shit in his head.


HILLY: Zip it. No, I think that that’s proof positive that there is a little bit of a block there, almost like a learning disability about thinking about other people—and yourself—but in the right balance. I’m not saying I do it perfectly. But you have to start by giving yourself more credit while simultaneously being sensitive or least aware of the people around you, who you actually care about.

GEORGE: I’ve been called an idiot savant.

HILLY: Yesterday, for example—

GEORGE: It’s my turn to talk.

HILLY: No, no, no. Zip it! So we were invited to this Wildlife Conservation Society, wonderful black-tie event. We had a whole month to prepare for this. We got to sit down and have a wonderful dinner, Al Gore was there, the whole thing was very exciting. So the night before, I said, ‘George! Where’s your tuxedo? Leave it out and then tomorrow morning I’ll try to spruce it up, de-lint it and iron it for you.’ So the next morning I was doing that—what do I find when I’m ironing the pants? There’s a hole in the crotch—not just a little hole. So I went to work and sent him an e-
mail saying, ‘George! You can’t wear those.’ So he wrote back, ‘I’ll just wear dark boxers.’ That’s ridiculous! And then about an hour later, he had a better idea, which was: ‘I’ll just use safety pins.’ And this is the guy who’s afraid of keeping his cell phone in his pocket for fear of growing impotent. Safety pins?


HILLY: And so finally I said, ‘George, bring them here right now. There’s a tailor around the corner and I’m sure they’ll rush and fix them for you.’ I mean, people paid a lot of money for him to be there as their guest at this table.

GEORGE: I know, and then I got in trouble for not sitting at the table and running around shmoozing under the tent.

HILLY: You waited until the last minute to deal with your tuxedo and I was at work and had other stuff to do besides concentrating on your outfit. I had major wardrobe malfunctions of my own.

GEORGE: This morning, I read on the Internet something a commenter wrote about me after this article I wrote; she wrote: ‘Selfish bastard, isn’t he?’ This was somewhat devastating.

HILLY: How do you know it was a girl?

GEORGE: I just assumed. Or some real ineffectual weakling dude. This comment really has had an effect on me today, and what I’ve decided is maybe there is some truth to that, that I am in fact a selfish bastard.

HILLY: Well, if you were that selfish a person, then those people wouldn’t have come to your party.

GEORGE: I think there’s something to be said for selfishness. What does this person want me to do, go volunteer?

DR. SELMAN: I think everybody’s got to be a little bit selfish. I think it’s not entirely abnormal. But I’m still trying to understand why we had the four- or five-month hiatus and why you’re back now.

GEORGE: I think my superiors wanted me to stop navel gazing so much. And maybe some readers were getting a little sick of me. … Well, it’s really good being back. I feel much better already. All I do is look at a computer screen all day, so it’s good to have this interaction. Had a twitch in my eye for week—you ever hear of this?


HILLY: Well, he’s also had some moments when he’s been feeling really down and he had a few episodes of blowing up about where we live. He feels like a prisoner in the apartment because he doesn’t leave all day. I get home at the end of the day and he’s still in his pajamas. The kitchen is filled with maybe 40 empty glasses and then he wants me, he expects me to—what do you call it?—entertain him. Which is fine, but I have other stuff that I need to do, too. And what I’ve been trying to say is, Well, George you’ve got to find something to do, just get yourself into the pattern, even if it’s walking to Starbucks or Gristedes.

GEORGE: I need to look into that organization Big Brother. Be great if I had someone who would swing by and hang out with me.

DR. SELMAN: Are you depressed?

GEORGE: I’m always a little of that. Being self-aware and realistic.

DR. SELMAN: I’ve offered to give you antidepressants.

GEORGE: You know what? It would be so great if they had short-term Prozac. Like if I could take some right now, and it would kick in and get me over this hangover.

HILLY: When I started taking Prozac a long time ago, I felt a difference immediately.

GEORGE [to HILLY]: Not trying to be rude, but do you think for the next 20 minutes we could each limit our comments to four or five sentences max?

DR. SELMAN: What you mean by that, George?

GEORGE: I need to say some things and she—

DR. SELMAN: You think Hilly’s talking too much?

GEORGE: I like what she’s saying, but I’d like to add to it, because we’re talking about me here and I might have some insight. I know I have to get out of the apartment more, into the city, I have to deal with people, talk to them live in person, not on e-mail, which I’m beginning to think is evil. I’m addicted to e-mail, and it’s changed my whole outlook on life and brain chemistry—nice going, geeks!

George and Hilly: Prisoners of Roosevelt Island