September 28th, 2002

When It Falls Down, Put It Back Up


A violent rainstorm sent a flood of water cascading down the narrow mountain road. A portion of the wall at the steep ramp to Via Piellero collapsed. It didn’t take these guys long to gather up the fallen tuffa stones and stack them up again, good as new.

* * *

“I’m going to see Dr. Bob in an hour,” Vittoria said.
“You saw him yesterday, didn’t you?”
“Yes. But he said I need to see him again.”
“He told me I’m the type of person who always gets her way, but it’s not happening here.”
“‘Just wait,’ I told him. ‘You’ll see who wins in the end.’”
“This is starting to sound rather strange.”
“‘We need to work on a few other subjects,’ he said, which is why he wants me to come today. Also he said when I’m back home I should continue to see him, and that I shouldn’t worry about the fee because he’s going to waive it.”
“He wants to pick my brain. To him I’m an interesting subject, especially about how I was raised in Italy. Guess what I told him?”
“I have no idea.”
“You can pick my brain, Doc, when you buy the book James is writing about me.”
“He said, ‘James? Who is James? You’ve never mentioned him before!’ I said, ‘James is the man who writes down everything I do and say. Only HE can pick my brain.’ Dr. Bob’s face got red. He looked at me like, what the hell will come out of her mouth next?”
“That’s why he wants me to go back today. I guess I’ve got him very curious.”
“Pretty soon he’ll be paying YOU to come to his therapy.”
“I believe so. He said I needed someone like him who won’t let me push him around, which I’m used to doing. Also that I need a few more sessions before going home and talking to my father.”
“What did you say to that?”
“I told him, I’m going home tomorrow.”
“He said, ‘Vittoria! You’re not ready yet.’ I said, ‘Oh yeah? Watch me.’”
“I can’t believe this.”
“Dr. Bob got red in his face again. I told him, ‘You see, you don’t control me, buddy. I do what I want, you don’t tell me what YOU want.’”
“This doesn’t sound like therapy to me.”
“I know. He’s so pushy. He got me confused, so I put up my defenses.”
“He told me, ‘Admit it—you’ve finally met your match.’ I asked him, ‘What the hell do you mean?’ He said, ‘I’m the one who can stand up to you and not let you get away with everything.’ So I said, ‘Thank you for trying to get me to do what you want. But as you can see I’m doing it my way. I will not see you tomorrow because I will be back home.’”
“This is utterly unbelievable.”
“Hey!” she said. “I’m wondering. Do you think all this was just Dr. Bob’s way to get me to go home?”
I groaned.
“This is interesting,” she said. “Was going home tomorrow my idea? Or his?”

I thought for a moment.
Then I said, “That’s beside the point.”
“No it isn’t.”
“When you mentioned me his face turned red, didn’t it? That’s a dead giveaway. He’s emotionally involved with you. And that isn’t therapy.”
“Dr. Bob said he would call me when I got home to make sure I was doing fine. I told him there was no need to.”
“Give me this guy’s last name, address and phone number. I’ll file a complaint with the ethics board of the APA.”
“What’s APA?”
“Amerian Headshrinkers Association.”
“Why do I always get myself into these things?”
“My advice to you is to go home when you feel comfortable, and have a long talk with your dad about the adoption. And for Christ’s sake forget about this so-called therapist.”
“And if he calls, tell him that it sounds like stalking, and you will call the cops. No, better yet, tell him that your husband has mob connections.”
She laughed. “Okay, I’ll do that.”
“Yes, silly.”
After a two-beat pause, I got a thought.
“Say, are you by any chance making all this stuff up?”
“No!” she said. “I’m just telling you what’s happening to me right now.”
“With you I never know WHAT to think.”
“And you love it,” she said sweetly. “Don’t you?”