Turning things around, I asked him what his feelings were about our ending things. ‘I’m incredibly angry,’ he responded fondly. ‘How dare you? You should at least have to come and have coffee with me once a week.’ I asked if he felt this way about most of his patients. ‘Not really,’ he responded.
(Sigh. Should you happen to be possessed of a certain verbal acuity coupled with a relentless, hair-trigger humor and surface cheer spackling over a chronic melancholia and loneliness—a grotesquely caricatured version of your deepest Self which you trot out at the slightest provocation to endearing and glib comic effect, thus rendering you the kind of fellow who is beloved by all yet loved by none, all of it to distract, however fleetingly, from the cold and dead-faced truth that each passing year you face the unavoidable certainty of a solitary future in which you will perish one day while vainly attempting the Heimlich maneuver on yourself over the back of a kitchen chair—then this confirmation that you have triumphed again and managed to gull yet another mark, except this time it was the one person you’d hoped might be immune to your ever-creakier, puddle-shallow, sideshow-barker variation on “adorable,” even though you’d been launching this campaign weekly with a single-minded concentration from day one…well, it conjures up feelings that are best described as mix, to say the least.)