My local PBS station recently aired a Charlie Rose episode, one of his continuing investigations of the brain. This one explored Schizophrenia. When Charlie’s all-star team of shrinks and brain researchers went into detail about how the disease expressed itself, I felt a swell of nostalgia.
You see, I’m afflicted with the most obvious symptom. I hear voices. Actually I perceive only one voice and what it tells me most often is, “Hey asshole. Take your medication.”
Ridiculous. I don’t even take medication.
So who speaks to me? Is it God? Would the Almighty trouble himself with such minutia? So by process of elimination, I’ve identified the source of the voice as the Lord’s unacknowledged prophet, Baron Hulgosz, a Hungarian noble who breathed his last in the mid 19th Century.
Sometimes the voice says, “Smoke a joint. Have a cocktail.” When I tell him to take a hike, he threatens to kill me. “With what?” I answer. “A verb? A run-on sentence?” That shut the dumb Magyar’s mouth or whatever he uses to generate the chatter that floats around inside my skull.
This appears fairly innocuous and harmless, doesn’t it? If only it were so. It cost me my psychiatric practice.
You see, I often applied Baron Hulgosz’s advice and analysis when counseling my patients. His insights, including his hypercritical comments—“If I see her in that goddamned outfit again, I’m going to hang myself. Again.”—were invariably spot on.
My professional trouble didn’t begin until I submitted an article about the therapeutic value of auditory hallucinations. I would not admit to imagining voices myself, yet I was happy to give Baron Hulgosz credit as the co-author of what became a controversial paper.
In the article, I told of my patient, Anna C and her auditory episode. She regularly walked on the beach to steel herself for her workday routine as a sign spinner outside the local chapter of Al Shabab. On one of her morning outings she stumbled across a beached whale–still breathing. Anna immediately grasped her cell phone to call for help when she heard the whale speak with an accent not unlike the late Argentine master-actor, Raul Julia. Was it a genuine reincarnation or merely an impersonation of uncommon skill?
Before Anna pressed send, the whale begged, “Please. No. No whale watchers.”
“If you’re not the immortal soul of Raul Julia, are you a divine symbol?”
The whale beseeched her. “Please, let me just lay the fuck in the sand.”
Anna, not the most confident person even though she still felt the glow of last night’s Costco Gewurtztraminer, wondered aloud, “If it’s privacy you want, wouldn’t a mammal as large as yourself be better served holding its tongue?”
“You think people are the only beings who deserve to unburden themselves?” opined the whale with a damp torpedo of crill for emphasis. “Do you know how goddamned sick I am of eating fish every night?”
Anna C dismissed the complaint, reasoning that a truly intelligent creature would never have beached itself on a stretch of coast exclusively zoned for seafood restaurants. Nevertheless, out of pity for the poor beast, she reached into her hijab for a protein bar which she gently placed on a tongue no smaller than a boogie-board.
At that, the whale spat the bar with such force it splintered the rotting wood of a nearby lifeguard station. “That’s why I crawled away from the primordial saline? That’s how you slake my curiosity about my fellow mammals?” The beast turned back toward the sea and disappeared.
Soon after, scientists confirmed that a disgusting soup of Omega 3 byproducts offered physical confirmation that a whale had indeed hollowed out that very stretch of shoreline. More elusive was the slightest proof that this beast was indeed a picky eater. No one witnessed its stinging verbal rebuke of the menu that Mother Nature prepared for him.
If the creature did speak to Anna C, could it have been a trick? Or a miracle? Why did the psychoanalytic priesthood assume it was evidence of pathology or a sign of the rote sexual obsession they ascribed to everything? I argued that it was no less than a lost opportunity to engage another species in witty banter.
Regrettably, Baron Holgusz wouldn’t confirm my diagnosis out loud. Not only was I shamed professionally; my license to provide psychotherapy was revoked.
These days, the Baron remains unapologetic and never shuts up. The dumb Hunky is seldom far from my side, no small source of unease when, stepping out of my boxer shorts for my morning ablutions, I must endure his taunts.
Nevertheless, I will not deny him public credit for the good things in my life. His lightning quick counsel made me a thirteen-day Jeopardy champion. And as always, women find my Hulgosz-inspired patter irresistible. With the Baron’s helpful barrage of debonair one-liners, the war between me and the fair sex is never a fair fight. My only complaint? When seduction inevitably leads to the boudoir, he’s a bit of a backseat driver.