“Just go in and have a seat, Ms. Hickman. The therapist will see you in a few moments.”
I strolled into the office and right toward the bookshelf. Hard candy filled a large bowl next to several travel brochures. Casting a quick peek at the ajar door, I sank my hands into the crinkling wrappers and started to shove the sweets into my pockets until my pants bulged. Then I hurried toward the red sofa and laid down. I sighed while listening to the voices in the hall.
“Why, Mortimer!” Loud giggles escaped from the receptionist’s mouth. “What would your wife say?”
“Wife? What wife?” The therapist’s laughing voice sounded familiar. My eyes narrowed in suspicion as he finally ended his flirting and walked through the door. The therapist Mortimer appeared to be my weaselly family doctor who overcharged me for every visit.
“Oh no!” My hands covered over eyes. “What are you doing here? I thought you were just a family doctor?”
“There is this island out in the South Pacific I want to buy and I didn’t charge enough from you for your purple toes’ visit last May.”
“Ha. Funny.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “I guess your wife laughs at every giggle your receptionist makes when calling to ask when you are coming home late at night.”
Mortimer coughed into his notepad and took a seat in the high-backed chair. “Um, so how are you doing today, Ms. Hickman.”
I grumbled, “Doctor, er, Therapist. I am having mental issues.”
“I know.” Mortimer took out his pen and began writing on his papers. “I have read your blog.”
“It’s even worse than that.” My nose sniffled. “I discovered last week that I have been . . . twiddling with myself.”
“Really? Tell me all about it.” Mortimer leaned forward with eagerness. His eyes ran up and down my prone body, leering.
I popped a piece on unwrapped candy into my mouth. “Well. I notice it whenever I am working on my laptop. After I finish with my writing, my hands start to twiddle everywhere. They keep going and going, bringing moments of extreme satisfaction. Then I feel down on myself for giving in to such urges.”
“Oh, do give in to the urges. In fact, why don’t you tell me every entertaining detail while I get more comfortable.” Mortimer hurried toward his standing bar and fixed himself a strong drink. Then he momentarily stepped into the office’s small bathroom. In two minutes he reappeared dressed in a tee shirt and boxers as he sat back into his chair.
I scratched my head at his wardrobe change. “I . . . it’s just too embarrassing to talk about.”
“There, there.” Mortimer scooted his chair closer to the sofa. “Believe me; it’s quite natural to twiddle. I do it all the time. Watching television. Eating breakfast. Driving. Doing yoga with the receptionist. It releases stress and is a healthy workout for the body.”
“For the body? But how is fussing with my finished manuscripts a healthy workout for the body?” I asked.
Mortimer’s features scrunched in bafflement. “Manuscripts? Aren’t you talking about . . . uh . . . twiddling?”
“Yes. I twiddle with my manuscripts. Even when I finish one, I will go back in and fuss over the words: fixing, tweaking, twiddling. I am always messing around with the stories after each rejection I get because I think something is still wrong when I know I should leave things alone. Wait a minute.” My brow furrowed. “What were YOU referring to about twiddling?”
“Oh, nothing . . . nothing.” Mortimer pushed his chair away from the sofa and dashed into the bathroom. Clothing rustled inside before he came back out dressed in his business attire. He gulped down the alcohol from his glass and then returned to his chair. His head bowed as he fixed an unwavering stare at his notepad. His teeth chewed at the end of his pen in nervousness. “I believe your condition is a common reaction in trying to please everyone whom you are sending your manuscripts to. I believe you need to stand back, look at your work, and say to yourself, ‘I am happy with what I have written. Now I must find the person who will work with what I have written, and then we will go on from there.’ Only then will you do less tweaking of your work.”
“Okay. I will do that.” I sat up from the couch as a candy waterfall gushed from one pocket. I scrambled to pick them up and deposit the pieces back inside my clothes before Mortimer noticed. “Thanks a lot, Therapist. I love it when you give free sessions.”
“Free sessions? Why would this session be free?” Mortimer moved toward his bookcase for a candy only to notice the empty bowl. He turned around as I opened the office door to leave.
I grinned at him. “What would your wife say if I made a blog post about my therapist doing twiddle yoga with his receptionist?”
Mortimer gulped. “I believe we have made some real progress today, Ms. Hickman. Have the receptionist schedule your next appointment, and bring a bag of candy with you.”