A Therapist’s Private Life: An Indelicate Moment Requiring Delicacy

Some things ought not be mentioned in mixed company. Perhaps, therefore, those of refined sensibilities should not proceed further. The tale, if I can call my saga that, might prompt shock, sympathy definitely, and wonder — about who I really am that I should place this in public view. You have been warned. By reading, you are indemnifying me against psychological damage you might suffer.

Sunday, September 2, 2018.

I was minding my own business. The last three words are chosen with care. Confused? OK. Let me get closer to the matter. I stood in the smallest room in my home — not, I must add, before the mirror or the sink below and in front of it. Those still with me should recognize your number is smaller than when I began the paragraph.

The question is one of proper handling of equipment. Human, fleshly equipment. How many thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of times do men use this device for one of the two activities we are required to perform with said attachment. Put differently, I had lots of rehearsal. I knew how it worked, how the object should be held, where to direct its attention. Even without time spent at a firing range. I had some practice in using a garden hose dating from a Chicago childhood, but this experience came only after acquiring my washroom competencies, not before.

I finished. As you know, the process requires the replacement of said mortal apparatus back where it belongs, a familiar vanishing act. Most of the male persuasion wear zippered pants, though I realize string and buttons made their civilized appearance long before Herr Zipper created the metal or plastic method of opening and closing two pieces of fabric.

Allow me to correct the record. Whitcomb L. Judson, the type of name you don’t encounter much anymore, deserves the credit. His gadget’s first large-scale display was at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, some buildings from which still exist, including the Museum of Science and Industry. With such knowledge, I’m sure your visits there will never be the same.

Employing Judson’s invention, either closing or disclosing, does not demand brain power or concentration. You can’t do it in your sleep, but you can without sleep or preoccupied; and often when conversing, as sometimes happens when two men mind their own business while facing adjacent porcelain receptacles.

Ah, what arrogance! What foolishness! Too assured, confident, and mindless.

If you haven’t guessed what happened, here it is: the star of this essay (and I’m not talking about the whole of myself) — got snagged on the metal zipper for just an instant at, shall we say, its most sensitive point. An eye-opening moment. I should have remembered why the interlocking segments of the zipper are called teeth.

I am not much of a singer. Despite my limited musical skills, I immediately hit a high note only dogs can hear. In another second, I de-snagged the snag.


Some blood appeared at the accident site. To be specific, one drop. I felt better in a few more moments, soaping myself first.

Emergency rooms see far worse.

Now an apology. To my ex-patients, in particular. I suspect some of you never thought I owned this appliance or — occupied with weightier considerations — didn’t ponder its quiet presence in the room we shared. There were others, however, who — briefly at least — maintained focus on the additional function for which this machinery was designed and hoped to work their magic on it and on me. In either case, you might not have wanted to be reminded.

So sorry.

Now back to the six people who are continuing to read. Those who peruse counselor blogs are not all aware that therapists are regular folks. Our staged performances can fool you. Yes, but I am an iconoclast, a man willing to betray our slight-of-hand and step off the pedestal on which we perform, this for the sake of truth and a laugh.

Promise me something, dear reader. And by now, I do mean singular. Please do not tell my grandson any of this. He is just learning to master his small portion of the paraphernalia with which God equipped him.

I’m done, but worried a bit. Will you still respect me in the morning?


The perceptive among you will notice that the images above are almost identical, an Animated Zipper closing, the other opening (reversed). The creator of both of these is Demon Deluxe (Dominique Toussaint). They are sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

34 thoughts on “A Therapist’s Private Life: An Indelicate Moment Requiring Delicacy

  1. Too funny! Yes, I will respect you even more for showing humor and humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear from you, JT. I’m also glad I know what the JT stands for, otherwise your offering of the morning’s respect might be a little unsettling. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I’m the lone reader finishing till the end. 😉. As always, appreciate your candidness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Confucius say … “He who learns but does not think is lost.” Not your usual modus operandi. 😁 Hope you’re ok!


  4. Yes the human body is the great leveller, and when it goes wrong there is the rest of humanity to sympathise and comfort. And you know that you are just one of us. Welcome to the human race. ;-/

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You sir are a treasure! Thank you for both the laughter and the reminder that we ALL have our moments. Lol.

    On a recent vacation, my husband woke me up at 3:30 in the morning to tell me he couldn’t breathe. He has afib and pursuant to the vacation we had noticed his heart rate climbing a bit, so I immediately called an ambulance. I was very calm and clear on the phone (grateful for my experience on a crisis phone line which meant this wasn’t even close to my first 911 call). I let the paramedics in, even weighing in with my opinion of my husband’s EKG (normal for him). I gathered up our things, made sure I had ID and insurance cards, then followed the ambulance to a local hospital. I parked my car, went into the emergency room, told them my husband had just been brought in and waited. A few minutes later a male nurse came to get me and took me back to my husband’s room. After reassuring him, I handled the insurance information then settled down to wait for the doctor. While waiting I must confess to thinking that all things considered I was rocking this. Just a minute later, proving that the Universe and/or God had a sense of humor, an x-ray technician showed up with a portable x-ray to get a picture of my husbands chest. The x-ray technician was the first woman I had encountered since being woken by my husband. As we passed each other, she entering the room and I stepping out, she leaned towards me and very quietly and kindly told me my shirt was on inside out. 🙂 The moments that teach us humility! “Happy is the man who laughs at himself, for he will always be amused.”



    • Thank you, AG. One of the most elegant and beautiful women I ever encountered — one who made her living in the public eye — told me of a day when she was making a presentation and realized she was wearing two different shoes. Inside-out or not, sounds like you got the job done.


  6. I had to grimace, but not yell, with you at the moment of pain. Glad to know you are human!


  7. Ooh ouch! I’m glad I don’t own such an apparatus, especially since I’m clumsy as all heck, haha!


  8. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The zipper animation was a giveaway, Dr. Stein. I knew what was coming. I mothered two boys. I’ve shared that pain with both of them. You’d think they would learn to be more careful. Now I know that a man is never too old to get caught in the zipper snare 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rosaliene, if I last ’til Methuselah’s age, then I will truly know whether one is never too old for this. I’m hoping I fall far short of such knowledge!


  10. Surprised I’m the first to bring up the inevitable similarities with the Movie Something About Mary! Frank n Beans!! 🙂


  11. I admire your humor and humanity in dealing with such a topic, enjoyed it as always, blog ON!


  12. Love you more every post. So much better (and more fun) than my old therapist who is still on that stupid pedestal. Suggestion: stay with the pants with the stretchy waist and tie front. Your “friend” will thank you for it.😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You gave me a good laugh too, Judy. My friend and I are grateful!


  14. Ouch!!!! You poor thing and I will never look at my therapist the same ever again! Thank you for humanizing yourself and him. 😉


  15. I have lots of company in this, Nancy. I dare say, every boy or man has had the experience at least once. Thanks for your commiseration.


  16. Tom’s comment made me laugh out loud 🙂 and the warranty will only expire Dr S, when your sense of humour does, and that, thank goodness, is as alive and naughty as ever 😉


    • As I’ve told a few people, and now you, on my deathbed I will be able to do two thing, no matter my age: parallel park and tell a joke!


  17. And of course, I must ask you to examine your subconscious motives for telling us this story 😉 At least you didn’t start with ‘picture this….’ , though as you know, your words are very evocative, and you must know that many of us will indeed have been forming mental pictures of the ‘event’? 😉


  18. I’m going to echo Karen Horney here: I solemnly swear that I do not have envy for a particular phallic area (an argument she made to Freud). I meant that as a joke, Dr. S. But then again (here comes another joke, I think), castration anxiety might be a real thing. So sorry you went through that. Indeed, humans are human, regardless of their job title. However, it amazes me how those in helping professions can deal with so many things in their own lives that may warrant the need for help while, at the same time, turning around and offering others help – even those who may not have had as rough a time as you had with incidents like these. I think the difference is that clients can spill all the details about their delicate and private situations, whereas therapists rarely can reciprocate that type of communication back to their clients. Clients may forget that their therapist is human; the one-sidedness of the therapeutic alliance (from my perspective as a client only) makes us clients quite self-centered at times (due to the nature of therapy). Then again, I remember a really good therapist a long, long time ago who burped during our session. I think his face turned red, but I didn’t care. I knew he was human, and life happens. LOL.


  19. I don’t remember ever imitating the therapist you mention, but none of us are always at our best. I’ll add his infraction to an imaginary long list of a counselor’s odd moments. Thanks, multinomial.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I have a wild imagination. What helped me to survive life as an undergrad in my 40s was finding humor in the text; to remember and recall people, places, and events that were on exams, I created ‘scenarios’ in my head, as if I were right there with the founding fathers and mothers of psychology. I wondered what it was like for Freud to argue with a few of his proteges. That was my “imaginary list” from the point of being an observer, learner, and survivor. It would be interesting to see what your imaginary list of a “counselor’s odd moments” would be. Imagination is fun!

      Liked by 1 person

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