Christina Lynch

One writer's struggle to make sense of the universe, or laugh trying.

Diary of a Rural Writer

The Casting Couch

Posted by Christina Lynch on October 7, 2010 at 2:13 PM

The comment that kicks off this piece is the only true thing about it. My ex-shrink really did describe me as "Toto."

The Casting Couch

Lately my ex-shrink has been calling me with free advice, which is pretty cool. The other day she asked me why I didn’t ask this guy Roy for a job. I said that I was pretty sure Roy didn’t like me. “That’s absurd,” she snorted. “That’s like thinking someone could watch The Wizard of Oz and not like Toto.” 

It was true. Since age six I had imagined myself as Dorothy, desperately seeking her way back home, but also kind of enjoying being out and about having adventures and wearing great shoes. But now I realized my ex-shrink was right. I was not the heroine of the story, I was just a little dog, blithely trotting out ahead on the yellow brick road, getting carried away by flying monkeys, and being imprisoned by the bad witch (I will leave it to my family members to decide which of them is the monkey, and which is the witch).

This led me to wonder what other movie favorites I had misinterpreted, and how they might help me better understand who I really am.

Out of Africa -- I had always identified with Meryl Streep, finding her way in a new land, bringing provisions to her man over rough country and fighting off lions while winning Robert Redford’s heart. But I watched the movie again, hoping at least I was Iman, the gorgeous silent mistress of Robert Redford’s dying best friend. But my ex-shrink told me I was actually the set of china that Meryl brings all the way from Denmark. “But don’t worry,” she said. “We can work on that when you have money to continue therapy. Pass the popcorn,” she added, “and do you have any of those flavored salts?”

When Harry Met Sally – Sometimes when watching this movie I felt like Harry, who was deeply in love with his best friend, and sometimes like Sally, who was better at imitating orgasms than having them. “Don’t be ridiculous,” said my ex-shrink, snorting at my foolishness as she stuck her head into my refrigerator in search of cream for her Kahlua. “You’re the wagon wheel coffee table Sally’s friends fought over when they moved in together, and ultimately left sitting by the curb.” Then she shamed me for buying non-cage-free eggs. Apparently her ex-husband had always sprung for the humane kind. When I said they cost twice as much, she said, “How would you like to be the chicken of the person who thinks that way?” I wondered if what she was really saying was that I already was. I made a mental note to ask her that when we resumed therapy some day.

Star Wars – Since I generally wear my hair in elaborate braids and favor white robes, I felt I had a lock on this one. Leia! She shook her head, reaching for my last aspirin. I tried again: Luke Skywalker, also brave and true? Nope. Apparently I was C3PO, but with a little extra girth around the middle. “That’s why people are always taking you apart and leaving you in the desert,” she said. “That’s very helpful,” I said. I had been stranded in the desert once by someone I thought was a friend, but who turned out to be just a hitchhiker-turned-car thief. “Your pull-out sofa hurts my back,” said my ex-shrink. “And you’re out of Kleenex.” I pointed to a brand new box. “You’re out of the kind with aloe,” she said.

Debbie Does Dallas – My ex-shrink wanted to watch this one because apparently the woman her husband left her for is named Debbie, and is from Dallas. Since it was my first time watching it, I was eager to see whom I would identify with. You know what? I couldn’t tell who I was. But my shrink laughed every time Debbie got it in the ass.

Titanic-- By now I felt I was one step ahead of my ex-shrink, and really had a handle on my true self. “The boat,” I said, “full of hope and promise, but ultimately ending up in pieces on the ocean floor.” My ex-shrink laughed at my hubris. “Get over yourself,” she said. “My marriage is the Titanic. Debbie is the iceberg. You’re the deck chair floating on the water.” At least I was in the movie, I thought. And in kind of a pivotal role!

Gone with the Wind – I’ll give you a hint: I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin no babies. Apparently Debbie is the pony who threw Bonnie Blue and was shot for his trouble; my ex-shrink’s husband is Rhett, and her college boyfriend is Ashley. She’s out with him tonight, so at my ex-shrink’s suggestion I stayed in to watch…

Casablanca – When my ex-shrink got back from her date with her college boyfriend, she told me that he was the moody outsider Rick, and that she was the lovely Ilsa, which kind of left me out of things. Her ex-husband was Laszlo, and Debbie was the Resistance movement, but with better underwear. She had already shut my bedroom door by the time I managed to ask if I was the charming and unscrupulous Captain Renaud. “It’s so obvious,” she called out angrily. “You’re the letters of transit.” That felt like a breakthrough, really, because the letters of transit are what everyone wants. I was settling happily onto the loveseat, arranging my feet to hang just so off the end when the bedroom door opened a crack.  “No wait,” she said. I noticed she was wearing my silk robe. “I’m sorry, my divorce is the letters of transit. You’re the fat man who buys the bar.” I couldn’t wait for therapy to resume so that she would explain that one.

Alien – Yeah, Debbie’s the monster, my ex-shrink is Sigourney Weaver and her husband is the spaceship. I must be space itself, because it’s been weeks and I don’t seem to be changing, expanding, or even visible to the naked eye. I casually mentioned to my shrink that the rent was due and she said don’t worry about it, she would take it off my bill when she felt up to resuming treating people. And then she sent me out for more bourbon.

All About Eve – Debbie is Eve, my ex-shrink is Bette Davis. By this time I felt confident that I was the playwright, but when I told this to my ex-shrink, she laughed in my face. “You don’t have the moxie to be the playwright,” she said, “you’re that actress who everyone recognizes but no one knows her name who played the maid both here and in Rear Window.” That gave me something to think about as I scrubbed our bathroom. I had never realized that my ex-shrink was such a stickler for a clean tub.

It’s A Wonderful Life – What with my lack of a job or a boyfriend, I was feeling pretty down and wishing I could afford a session with my ex-shrink, especially since she was so conveniently located in my clean bathtub taking a bubble bath with the special salts my mom gave me before she died. But I had no health insurance or cash for therapy, so instead I watched this old classic which always cheers me up. I thought maybe I was the happy-go-lucky Martini family, or the raven who hops around on Uncle Billy’s shoulder. After all, Debbie got to be the despair that drives George and Mary apart. “You’re Clarence the idiotic guardian angel,” chortled my shrink from the bathroom. I guess while I was watching the movie her husband had called and asked her to meet him, and now she was choosing which of my favorite lacy bras to don. “You’re just wonderful,” she cooed. That was nice of her to say, and not charge me for.

Grapes of Wrath -- Apparently things didn’t go as she hoped. I guess it turned out her ex had asked to meet so they could settle who would get their apartment. I had to feel that if she were George and not Lennie, she would never have signed that pre-nup. She snapped at me that that was Of Mice and Men, and guess who was the mouse?

Thelma & Louise -- I guess I should have been concerned when she asked for the keys to my car, then reminded me that she didn’t know how to drive. 

Taxi Driver – There was a Robert DeNiro marathon on one of the cable channels in our motel room outside Pittsburgh. I was trying to talk my ex-shrink out of having me drive her to Dallas to meet Debbie face to face, but she said that duh, she was a shrink and who better to talk to someone who was clearly a psychotic house wrecker. She seemed certain that she could convince Debbie to leave the husband alone and if not, well, then she could always “drop a house on her.” I noticed she was holding a brand new shotgun that she purchased at a sporting goods store. “Whatchu you looking at?” she said.

My ex-shrink went to use the bathroom somewhere outside Omaha and I drove off without her. But not before tapping my red sparkly pumps together three times. When I got home there was a phone call from Roy offering me a job. Gee I hope my ex-shrink gets back to the city soon so we can resume therapy. I have so much I want to ask her. And it would be nice to have someone to go to the movies with.

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