Monday, June 22

Therapy For Friends

Administering therapy to your friends is a tricky thing. The mere fact that you regard the person as a friend refers you to the unwritten book of rules. Every sect has got their own set of guidelines that they follow, but some rules are just hard and fast, they translate into any society, no matter the language barrier or difference in tax bracket. We have a common ground, a foundation of sorts that we base morally sound friendships on. Maybe your wording is a bit different then mine, but it’s a needless to write down; mere common sense rules and I bet it goes a little something like this…

"The Giver, ‘he who gets his life’s blood sucked out’ must have an opinion when asked for one. He must also freely dispense his or her thoughts when requested, with no regard to its being contrary to what said friend wants to hear. The Taker, ‘he who bothers you with questions pertaining to the meaning of it all never to follow said advice’, is under no obligation to pay for or appreciate the given advice. ”

The ruling is pretty unfair if you are in the position of the Giver, but the rules however are binding. Personally, I have never seen the scenario played differently. But in my head I have imagined the Giver having the foresight to be an entrepreneur like Lucy from the Peanuts strip. The Giver could set up a stand and charge for their advice, making sure as hell to get more then five cents for it. Maybe, five cents a word could work if they could drag out their responses all while recording them on a tape player to keep accurate account and get every cent owed to them.

On second thought, that may not be the best way to handle these types of situations. I wouldn’t even be prone to this wild imagining if it weren’t for the fact that had I’d gone to school to be a shrink, I might actually be getting paid for my gems of advice. It almost made me faint when I calculated just how much I might have earned from my basket-case friends. Figuring in the amount of hours they’ve spent on my couch, the late night phone sessions, all the emergency happy hour drinking, the weekend road trips/ getaways to detox the best friend. Multiply all the hours striped from my youth that I’ll never get back, times the going rate in psychiatry these day’s, and I figure I’m owed seven thousand and five hundred dollars and eighty-seven cents for the past two months alone. Quite honestly, I’m rounding down.

To be fair, not everyone has that kind of money laying around earmarked for the express use of maintaining mental sanity – which is why most of us have friends in the first place. We can afford the booze that goes very nicely with the conversation about passed over promotions, cheating mates, etc. What we can’t afford however is the time it takes out of a busy schedule to actually see a professional, let alone pay a professional to humiliate us by telling us what we already now but don’t want to apply. But our friends, they already know we’re crazy and broke.

I’m beginning to visualize some sort of barter system. For every piece of wisdom I dole out they would have to fulfill one wish off of my payment list; the payment list consisting of a number of decent options that they can choose as alternatives to real currency. After a fair amount of advice had been doled at to said friend, my checklist of payment options would be mailed out to them. They would simply check off which option best suits their budget, mail the form back and I would collect when the opportunity presented itself.

For example…

( )One, guilt free ride to work.
( )One, candy of my choosing for our next movie outing.
*Candy must come from the concession stand; picking it up from the drug store on the way to the theatre is forbidden.

Now let’s just agree that some of our friends need more help than others. They require what might be viewed as a more than a monetary amount of tuning up in order to run smoothly. So if the therapy has been taking place on a ‘more than normal’ amount of time I’d be forced to up the anti. It's not gouging, but special circumstances call for special rates. Lets’ look at it from a worldly perspective; if you were on a cruise ship and had to see the Ship’s Doctor, he would have a separate rate for a weekday visit and a weekend visit. Heck, there’s a different rate for day and night hours. If that doctor has to step away from his dinner table or interrupt his weekend excursion in order to see you, get ready to pay double for that tummy ache you could have averted by staying away from the mid-afternoon surprise sushi hour on the Lido deck. I speak from experience.

So I’d mail out what I like to call the High Rollers card.
Select one of the following – and please, to avoid altercation, pay promptly. Thank you.

( )One (unused) ticket to a Yankees game.
*Home games only – away games only incur further cost for me. And lets face it, if you’re receiving this card I’ve paid enough already.
( )One $20 gift certificate.
*The certificate must not bare the following store names or include the combination or use of the following words: less, discount, why, land, world, bargain, or hut.

Once their form is filled out, returned and fulfilled, I could again spill out my never-ending jewels of wisdom till it was time to start the billing cycle again. Now if you do decide on this route, let me suggest you only run a tab for your very good friends as a gesture of good faith. Everyone else pays or you don’t play (i.e. send over your goons).

For years I have made wild speeches and keen observations in accordance to my friend’s problems. These pearls of wisdom were golden; they were “I have a Dream” quality! But alas, in one ear and out the other. Regardless of how many times they ask for it, you always hear “You're wrong, it’s not like that”, only days later to hear, “You were right. Why didn’t I listen to you?”
My personal favorite is “I can’t believe you let me do that!”

Why do they waste God Given talent? Had they been forced to go to some shrink who charged them a hundred bucks an hour, they’d be like monks waiting to hear wisdom fall from the lips of the Dalai Lama, the advice would be precious and they’d snort it like coke.

But why should they buy it when we’re giving it out for free? But I know another saying, we hear this phrase all the time. You get what you pay for.
Before I rock the system and institute my new barter system, I’ve been trying to alleviate the burden of my Giver duties by using what I’ve since tagged as the ‘Fortune cookie one liner’. It’s currently being used on a trial basis. You can try it, it’s very simple. For every problem you are asked for advice on stop and give your friend a look of genuine pondering. Wait a few minutes to give the illusion of deep thought – your body language should say “I am calculating and the pros and cons of this highly interesting conundrum.” Then in response use a generic, homogeneous statement: Ask and ye shall receive. Follow the urgings of your heart, not your mind. Be quick; lest the race be won be
someone else.

I figure these responses pretty much cover a wide spectrum of questions. You can’t really get into trouble with answers like these, because, they basically say nothing and everything all at once. Hopefully, you like I, will come off looking wise, throwing to the untrained ear what will seem like cool eastern philosophies. Most essentially it will allow you to retain the good stuff to impress the new friends you are bound to receive.

At least, that’s what my last fortune said.


otherworldlyone said...

You know, I've gotten so tired of that old song and dance with one or two of my now, their advice is administered with a sharp verbal slap in the face. I find they appreciate me more when I'm an asshole and they're less likely to ask me stupid crap.

Karen said...

I'm definitely the therapist in every circle of friends I'm in. I could have retired already from the many nights I've spent sitting up until the wee hours encouraging someone to ask that girl out or break up with that lying bastard or to go back to school or to get a real job or to quit school and do what they want.

The point is, I know just what you mean!

Jeff said...

I've gotten good mileage out of calling their bluff, usually something along the lines of "I think you already have an opinion/plan of action formed and are just hoping that I will be able to validate that for you." I like your fortune cookie answer though as well, and I will try to use that at the next opportunity

The Politic's Chick said...

OWO - You sound like a friend of mine. lol. The verbal slap works all the time. People don't waste their time asking her for crap.

Karen - it's a never ending, thankless job isn't it.

Jeff -your answer is so common sense. Unfortunately our friends just aren't interested in that. But I'll try it if you'll start using the fortune cookie one liners. I actually have a box of fortune cookies that a friend had made up for me as a gag. They all have my fav one liners inside. Now instead of wasting my breath, I just pass them out.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

It begins to hurt The Giver more and more when it's sisters - your own blood - you see getting treated like a doormat over and over and over again. You want to verbally punch them TKO-style, give them a symbolic black eye.

Tooj said...

I finally started prefacing any question posed by friends with "do you want my honest answer? I won't be listening to this same problem again if you aren't asking because you want to fix it." I am perfectly fine if my friends want to keep burning their tires in the same mudhole, I just don't want to be asked for advice they won't at least PONDER. I think I lost a few friends when I took this attitude, but eh....I got busy anyhow. I'm popping over from SITS roll call. Happy Tuesday.

The Peach Tart said...

listening and giving advice is OK with friends but listening to whining is not

the girl said...

Hey there, Politics Chick. Thanks for adding me to your reader!

It definitely sucks being in the position of The Giver all the time, especially when you know (as you said) that they're not going to listen to a bloody word you've said. I suppose it's really about being a sounding board for them to help them work out their own thoughts. Although a similar effect could probably be achieved using an actual board. Try substituting one for you next time and see if they notice!

The Politic's Chick said...

Akilah - I'm in total agreement -just as long as it's symbolic. :)

The Peach Tart - I just saw your blog - flithy, just flithy. LOL

Tooj - i'm pretty sure I've lost a few friends with my new attitude. But my goodness, with all the free time I'm remiss to regret it.

The Girl - oh my god, props?!
Girl...I don't have enough time for props. Though I must admit it sounds hilarious. I probably shouldn't laugh during it though huh?