hipster health propoganda
fiction

desensitization therapy: a conversation

“When you walk into the room… It smells like…”

“Go on, David.”

“When you walk into the main sitting area—where they all are watching Jeopardy or I Love Lucy—the smell… that yellow urine smell just up and punches you in the face. Every day. A bruisy type sock in the nose, it’s that strong.”

“Interesting. This is, as you say, a real physical sensation?”

“Might as well have been. The old people at the Sunshine Center don’t notice it. Or the way the nappy blankets smell either. They never wash them, ever, you know.”

“How is that the case?”

“That they don’t wash them? It’s a poor old government facility and the workers… well, they don’t get paid well. Don’t take a lot of pride in it ’cause they can’t afford to. Which would be why they rely on free labor to get the dirty work done. And trust me, it get gross, handing out brussel sprouts that smell like turds being crushed in your face. Or wiping up three-day old Jell-O and getting the likes of mothbally feet whiffs shoved up your nose. I presume the workers think the old peoples’ smellers don’t work no more. But not me, no. I smell things that shouldn’t smell. I have what I call a sensitive sense in this nose.”

“I see.”

“Snack time… that was always the worst. It came right after the ritualistic hand-washing—made them stand in a line all the way back to the back window and scrubbed them down, elbow to finger, with soap, maybe, and cold water—and after those stupid wrist exercises in the morning. Do wrists need exercise? But snack time… I don’t… I don’t know if I can talk about it. I might puke on this nice carpet of yours.”

“Well, we’ll come back to that then. And by the way, you’ve a waste basin at your feet, should there ever arise a moment in which you feel you must relieve yourself during our session.”

“So I don’t have to leave? Good thinking. Your time don’t come cheap.”

“Was there any particular moment you felt especially happy to be at the Sunshine Center?”

“Yes.”

“Why don’t you tell me a little about it?”

“I mean, I could, but isn’t desentization therapy for the bad stuff? That I talk it all out, throw up a little, and then get over it so I can finish this term?”

“I find it more beneficial to space the negatives. Besides, were I to know the positives of your experience, we might be able to better pinpoint the heart of your difficulties while interning there.”

“I guess so.”

“So positive moments. Tell me.”

“I liked when the local gigs would come and sing or dance or perform for us some afternoons. Especially the hoedown gals that squared danced in the pretty stick-out type skirts. They smelled like you’d stuck your face in a blooming tulip bed. You could practically see the flowers bounding from their hair and necks and wrists—all the usual places ladies put the little smell-goods. We didn’t sit in the main room those days too, so you could smell them. That urine cloud kills anything.”

“Ah, I see. This nose… ability of yours. How long have you had it?”

“Childhood. I recall the first day a girl kissed me on the playground… She was always pretty but she had these ears, kind of hairy but in a good way. Like peaches, and I couldn’t help but want to smell them, to see if they smelled like, you know, a peach. So I sniffed her.”

“And… how, um, did she respond to this?”

“Screamed, of course. Called me a creep, but I didn’t really care much; her ears smelled like the wax was gonna crawl out and take a chunk out of you with some crab claws, if you catch my drift. It was kind of disappointing, considering how pretty and pink they looked.”

“Mmhm, I see. Well, let’s go back now for a second. Tell me more about snack time. That seemed to be particularly difficult for you to talk about. And do remember, this is, in the long run, of great benefit to you. To address your fears. Encounter your hang-ups and hindrances and—”

“Move on. Yes. I’d like that.”

“So will you talk about it with me?”

“No, I’d rather keep my lunch in.”

“Even for your own benefit?”

“Ugh. Fine… They ate… They ate… beets. Have you ever even smelled beets?”

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