A Plague of Grief Therapy

Dweebesses, Geekettes, and Earnest Men in Panty Hose

by Fred Reed

I reckon we ought to find an abandoned oil well in some
forsaken part of Oklahoma, way out where tumble weeds bounce around all
lonely and nobody ever goes. Then we’ll canvass the country, and find
all the grief therapists, and stuff them into the well. Then we’ll pour
a concrete plug on top of’em, and a thick layer of potassium cyanide.

Then we’ll eat ribs and drink beer.


I can’t figure it. Used to be, if an earthquake happened and Granny
got squashed, and your town was pretty much flat, you felt bad about it.
You probably felt real bad. But feeling bad wasn’t practical, so you
held yourself together, dug through the rubble for the living, and
buried the dead. Next you sought solace in God, philosophy, or a bottle,
depending on taste. Then you built another town.

I don’t guess it was fun. I don’t guess it was easy. On the other
hand, nobody thought life was a rose garden. It wasn’t in the contract.
So you said a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, and did it. (And
yeah, so did women. But the Duke didn’t mention women.)

That was then. Nowadays when a tornado hits a trailer park (tornadoes
all do: they just seem to like trailer parks) the first thing that
arrives is a passle of grief therapists. They’re the new ambulance
chasers. They come like blowflies to help you process your issues.

Ain’t it hell? Your new double-wide is all in flinders across the
highway. The last you saw of your wife and dog, they were going up the
funnel. Now some patronizing little wart in librarian glasses is telling
you it’s ok to feel your grief.

I’d kill’em.

I mean, when something lousy has happened, and you’ve got to scrape
up the wreckage and get on with life as best you can–how much do you
need a solemn dweeb with a degree in psychology? A wheelbarrow, yes.
Maybe a backhoe and some paramedics. A ham sandwich and hot coffee help
in most emergencies. But–a psychology major?

I tell you, it’s the Oprafication of America. Know all those talk
shows with ugly fat women waggling their feelings at you–Oprah, Ricci
Lake, Jerry Springer–and generally humiliating themselves? They want
the whole country to do it. And they’re making it stick. We’re ruled by
gelatinous talk-show hosts. We’re turning into them.

What I want to know is where grief therapists come from. They seem to
pop up at disasters faster than toadstools in damp weather, almost
before the medical folk show up. Do they somehow come with
tornadoes, in a package deal? The victims go up the spout, and the grief
therapists come down it? Are there central warehouses full of
therapists, stacked like cordwood, or maybe stored in Cosmoline, waiting
for The Call?

Hey, this is pretty scary. The country may be riddled with grief
therapists. Like grubs in a rotting tree.

And who pays for them? Did anyone ask whether you needed any grief
therapists, and tell you how much these earnest tadpoles would cost per
each? I’ll bet you there’s a federal grant in the woodwork somewhere.
Uncle Sucker will pay for anything.

What worries me is, it may be a conspiracy by space aliens. Right
now, if a bunch of space aliens landed and tried to take over the world,
guys would run out and smack’em with ball bats. The space aliens
wouldn’t like it. But if they can get us to whinny and whimper instead,
and get into grief circles, and share, and validate each other’s
feelings, then they can turn us into pod people or larvae or something
in about ten minutes.

If you didn’t know space aliens were behind it, you’d figure we were
in the middle of some weird celebration of gooberish weakness. Time was,
it was thought adult and responsible and manly to take care of yourself.
If your house fell down, you put it back up. If a drooling drug-crazed
pervert rapist with a butcher knife came through your window at night,
you shot him and got the rug cleaned. Sobbing and glubbing and
complaining were looked down on.

It seemed to work.

Today, if a guy doesn’t fall apart in the most embarrassing manner
you can imagine, under the mildest stress, some grief-counseling geekess
will tell him that men need to get in touch with their feelings. (Men
devoutly wish women would get out of touch with theirs.)

We have a different flavor of therapist for every contingency. See,
it’s multi-faceted, specialized, categorized patheticness. (That was
almost a word.) Look in the self-help section of any bookstore, and
you’ll find titles like, “The Agony of Limp Hair: A Guide to Recovery.”
So help me, I’ve seen “pet-loss grief therapy” on the lobotomy box. Your
cat croaks, so a dweebette appears, solicitous and consoling enough to
gag a maggot, to help you work through your grief.

Over a cat.

Now, you’d think an adult could survive cat loss without a support
group. Sure, Tabby was an agreeable animal and purred when cosseted.
Cats aren’t evil. They’re just useless. And now Tabby is gone
forever–in heaven, ignoring God. There’s a sense of loss, I guess, like
when you misplace your keys.

But–a grief therapist? To tell you not to spend too much time alone
at first, especially at night, and don’t dwell on things that were dear
to Tabby, like her ball of string, and her catnip mouse, and her
half-eaten roaches? And remember when you get a new kitten, don’t think
of it as a replacement for Tabby who is irreplaceable in your heart, but
rather et cetera ad nauseam and beyond.

They talk like this, so help me.

Stuff’em down a well, I say. Shove Oprah on top, like a cork. And
then go for barbecued ribs.

And lots of beer. We’ll need it.

Fred Reed’s Column Page

Copyright 1999, Fred Reed