By Bessie Ng
I’m that girl in the Peanuts comic stip who occasionally has a psychiatrist stand with a sign that says “Psychiatric help: 5 cents.”
I don’t know what it is about me, but people, whether or not they know me, just come and tell me things.
For a while I thought I was wearing a big neon sign on my forehead that said, “Please come tell me your problems.” Then I realized my pager was a huge invitation for people to get me 24/7.
More often than not, it’s a crisis in someone’s love life. It could be a first fight, a silly argument that leads to a much bigger and sillier argument or a breakup. Inevitably, I get the call to be there to listen, to support, to be the shoulder to dry on.
Sometimes I’ll join in with a little male-bashing (“Yeah, all men are scum”). Sometimes I’m the voice of reason, especially for guy friends who need to see the female perspective (“If I was her, of course I’d be mad at you for what you did. What were you thinking? You obviously weren’t”).
It’s not uncommon for me to stay up until 4 a.m. listening, even is I have a 9 a.m. lecture the next morning. I don’t mind, it’s not a burden. I like being in the loop. It just means that I don’t have to stay home during the afternoon to watch All My Children. I get soap opera action live.
I also make house calls. Usually this only happens with girls. Bonding is so much better over a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Sometimes it’s difficult to sort through problems especially if both “clients” are friends. Both will tell me information about each other. Both will make me promise to not tell the other. Yet, noth will ask me about the other. I, of course, swear by my Girl Guide honour. I would never breach doctor-patient confidentiality. Keeping promises is important to me.
Some might ask how I handle being the keeper of everybody’s secrets. I guess I have a pretty nifty filing system in my head. Some friends stopped coming to me because they perceived their problems as an unnecessary burden on me. Actually, I quite enjoy listening to other people and their dilemmas.
And this is somewhat a problem because I wonder: Why is it I’m called only when something bad happens? Are the good things in life not worth talking about?
So, if anything happens, good or bad, and you need to tell someone, tell me. The doctor is in. Just leave your nickel on the table on your way out.