Marquel, TPVs NYTimes You’re Nuts Section correspondent was making a chestnut spread when he stopped to lick his spoon and read Me, Me, Me and My Therapist. Would he continue to exist if we couldn’t see him? Well someone would exist but it might not be your therapist. Is that good enough? The story seems to be the classic vacation one in which the therapist takes a vacation leaving the patient high, dry, and paralyzed.
The modern solution is to conduct telephone therapy. The patient and doctor set up a time where the patient and doctor spend an hour on the phone together. Which amounts to forty five minutes, because nothing a therapist says can be believed.
Marquel asked around. Dr. Zachary Bartolone is probably the most popular therapist on the West Side, where therapists are like doormen, everyone has one, and they’re sure theirs is the best. Because they cured someone? Of course not. Just because everybody says so.
I didn’t know how to proceed. I wanted to know whether Dr.Bartolone uses a lot of telephone sessions and how. More difficult was going to be getting info on particular patients, but especially on the West Side, people are not only not reluctant to talk, they’re dying to discuss their therapies, even their darkest secrets.
In front of Bartolone’s office I realized most patients hurried out, eyes down, sometimes teary. Not a good place to intercept them. But before they had their appointments, they huddled in the Starbucks on Broadway. They stuck out. They were clearly nuts. So I asked a few .
“Why of course we do telephone therapy. Especially during vacations. I spoke to him twice last week.” Said one.
“Tuesday and Thursday. At 2:00. Why?” She said
Three days of that, having every coffee combination possible, confusing grandes with big ones, ventis with piccolos (which exist only in my mind but should have greater publicity), and I made my big discovery. Saturday’s, Dr Bartolone had a very good slot at 7am which was always occupied by three different people. How could he do telephone therapy with three people at once. Similarly, Wednesday’s at 9 were always booked, by at least three people, sometimes four. And his hours still lasted only forty five minutes!
This was a big project. Two Wednesday’s and one Saturday I drove up and parked in front of Bartolone’s Westchester house. On Wednesday, he was out of the house at 10, a golf bag thrown in his Jaguar, and he was off. No other males left the house. On Saturdays, at 8, the doctor was off golfing and again no other mâles left the house. Was he really putting three people on alternate hold conducting therapy, charging for three hours of therapy in only one hour–more accurately, forty five minutes?
I had to remember that he was the most popular therapist on the West Side. People loved him, fought for appointments. He couldn’t treat his patients badly or they would rebel.
How was he conducting these simultaneous therapies? I poked around a little more. There were a few more cars at the Bartolone casa. Young men of high school or college age used them. I followed one to a local basketball court. I sighed. I’d have to shoot some baskets. I missed a couple and then got better, so we played a kind of messy one on one and then sat down.
“So are you a student?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, pre med. I want to be a psychiatrist like my dad.”
“Really?” He asked, “how’s that?”
“I’ve had some experience like that, but I don’t know if I could cure someone.” He said.
“He’s my father!” He exclaimed.
“Nah, it might not a been me. My younger brother also helps out.” He protested.
“He really isn’t. He’s kind of nutso. He gives the patients assignments like to learn the trombone or visit Hong Kong for a week. I’m not sure he should be helping dad.” He said.
“Not so far.” He said.
We played a few more games until we were both too tired and high fived each other saying good bye.
So that seems to be the secret. Telephone therapy is like tripling your already obscene fees. The result may be trombone lessons or expensive air tickets, but as therapy it seems successful. What wouldn’t, right?
What if What about Bob had discovered three or four other Bobs at Dr. Leo Marvin‘s house? Would Bob have felt mistreated? Or would an hour with Siggy, Leo’s son, have proved so productive that Bob would have gone home cured?
Is this whole therapy deal a scam? The telephone part seemed a bit abusive, that’s all.
BY MARQUEL: Me, Myself and My Therapist