Posts Tagged ‘psychiatry’




14 October 2014

“Hi Dennis,” said Chuck. “Remember that internet bubble that burst in 2001? Long before that I was telling people, ‘If you have any money, at all, in dot-com companies, take it out. I told that to one of my regulars. He didn’t take my advice, used all his retirement savings and now has to work two more years. He can’t afford to retire now. He asked me, ‘Where do you get your information?’ I said, ‘I read the financial section of the newspaper everyday.’ It’s not like I have anything else to do.

“We’ve got a new Finance Minister now. It looks like he’s going to take us down that same path again. Why couldn’t they have learned from last time. He’s been warned that because of the baby-boom bulge, we’ll have a shrinking workforce, a glut of savings, excessive investment in non-productive capital and sagging productivity. That’s something to look forward to.

“Yesterday I was telling you about my time in Moose Factory. One night, in the bar, three beautiful women came in. All the guys started buying them shots and they were putting them back. At closing time they locked the doors. When I came back the next morning the three women were naked and asleep on the pool tables. The bar was down four hundred dollars in liquor that wasn’t paid for. The guy I worked with said, ‘Chuck, you missed quite a party last night.’ I said, ‘That’s not my scene.’ Sloppy fourths or fifths is bad enough. When you’re eighteenth in line that’s not so appetizing.”

A blond woman with a big smile stopped and slipped Chuck a five. “Have a good weekend,” she said.

“I will, even though the temperature is going down to single digits. I’m going to take a sleeping pill tonight, because I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and enjoy doing nothing.”

“That sounds like a plan, Chuck,” she said. “Did you see the hockey game last night? Our team won!”

“Yes, and it was a home opener too. Last year we didn’t do so well on home games. If we’d won four more we would have made it into the playoffs. We may have been beaten out the first round, but we would have made it. Last night, two goals in a span of three minutes, in the third, turned the game around. If we can just keep up that momentum, we’ve got a chance.”

A construction crew started installing a scaffold near where Chuck was sitting. “It looks like I’m going to be getting what they call ‘the bum’s rush’. They will be doing something to the brickwork, so I may be away for a long time. Soon, it’ll be too cold to come out anyway.”




10 October 2014

André said, “As soon as I finish my beer, we should head over to my place.”

Outcast asked, “Is it tidy? It looks really nice when all the garbage is off the floor.”

André said, “I had people over last night, so it’s a bit messy, but not too bad. Mariah and Joy were over. We had a great time. One of my friends is really shy. As soon as Joy found that out she threw herself all over the guy. He didn’t know what to do.

Mariah said, “I talked to Joy this morning at 10:00. She said she’d just woken up and had a horrible hangover, so she won’t be coming here today.”

Curt asked, “How is Joy, anyway?”

André said, “She’s complaining about a sore tendon in her leg. You can actually see it. It’s like a chicken foot, you pull on the tendon and the claws scrunch up. She said there’s no way she’s going to see the doctor. The last time she saw him he put her in hospital for a month and a half. I don’t know how she could stand it. I was in for two weeks and I nearly went nuts.

Last night, I couldn’t eat at all. I made a really good soup, but I put in too many hot peppers. When those peppers hit my stomach they came right back up again. Hippo ate enough for everybody. What does he weigh now? 240, 260? I gave him a ride on my bike yesterday. The suspension went right to the bottom.

“I’ve got to get my roommate straight on a few things. I told him this morning, ‘Either you start pulling your weight, or you’re outa here. I cooked a meal last night, what’s wrong with you doing the dishes? I did the laundry. Do you think that the washers, dryers and laundry soap is free? I have to pay for that stuff. It cost me ten bucks yesterday.’

“I put up a list of rules:

  1. Don’t be an asshole!
  2. No fighting.
  3. If you see something that doesn’t belong to you, don’t touch it.
  4. There is only one Queen around here (the cat). We don’t need any Drama Queens.
  5. If you make a mess, clean it up.
  6. Bring your own booze.
  7. Bring your own weed.
  8. Bring your own cigarettes.
  9. If you disagree with any of the above rules, see André.






10 October 2014

“Good morning, Dennis. Is everything alright? I missed you yesterday.”

I said, “Yesterday I overslept. Luckily my wife had a late shift and was able to drive me to work.”

“When you say you overslept, was it because of what you were doing in bed before you went to sleep. You dog.”

I asked, “What have you been up to?”

“I was at the hospital, my grandson had a heart attack.”

I said, “I’m sorry to hear that, Chuck. How old is he?

He’s only 54. It’s the life he’s led, fights, drinking, drugs and smoking. He’s cut out the drugs and drinking, but refuses to quit smoking. I said to him, “You silly jackass. All your life you’ve been making the wrong choices. Think of it this way, ‘You smoke, you die.’ I’ve been through the same thing myself.  I can’t make it any clearer for you.

“He loves to fight. One time he’d bought some drugs on credit. He was to pay for them in a week. The dealer was with a motorcycle gang. There was a misunderstanding about payment and my grandson was beaten up. He walked into the biker bar where the club met. Sat down with some of the big shots from the club, slammed his fist down on the table, and explained why he didn’t owe them money. They’d get it on payday.

“There was a punk wannabe who thought he’d score some points with the club. He sucker punched my grandson in the side of the head and knocked him to the floor. My grandson got up and broke the guy’s nose. So much for the wannabe’s chances of impressing the club. He slunk off to a corner to nurse his broken nose.

“That was the kind of trouble he got into all through his life.

“On to something entirely different. I was invited out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. I wanted to make a good impression, and my fingernails were looking pretty rough. I went to one of those nail places you see in the malls. I noticed a lot of pretty Asian women there. One of them came up to me and said, ‘We have a hot tub in the back. How many of us would you like.?’ I said, ‘I didn’t know what kind of place this was. I just came in to get my nails done.’ It sure was tempting. I had tree hundred dollars in my pocket, but I had plans for the night. I still think of what could have happened if I took her up on her offer.

I asked, “Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving?”

“No, I’m going to pick up a small chicken. Some potatoes and… the word escapes me… It’s a vegetable, yellow, turnip, that’s what it is. I’m going to get one of those baby turnips, they’re nice and sweet. I’ll mix some breadcrumbs with eggs to make them stick together, add some spices, then stuff it into the chicken. How about you?”

“We’re having a small dinner with my son. There will just be the three of us. We’ll be doing that on Monday. Saturday and Sunday we’ll be Pulling in the dock, closing the cabin for winter and trying to keep the squirrels out.

“ENjoy your weekend, Chuck. I’ll see you on Tuesday.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, Dennis.”





6 October 2014

This morning, when getting off the bus I noticed Chili walking ahead of me. She uses a cane and walks slowly. She sat on a bench near the bus stop and I joined her.

“Hi, Dennis, it’s good to see you. I’m out of my routine this morning. The bus I usually catch was late, so I missed my connection for another bus. I’m heading to the medical center for my methadone treatment. Then, I go back home and get ready for school this afternoon. I attend the Adult Learning Center to finish my high school. I don’t know what I want to do after that.”

I said, “You spend a lot of your day o busses.”

“Yeah, I don’t mind it. It’s kind of relaxing as long as I don’t have to stand too long, like today. It’s a regular routine that I’m used to.”

I said,  “You’re looking good. I’ll say hello to everyone for you.”

“Thanks, Dennis.”

I changed busses and headed downtown to see Chuck, near where I work. “Hi, Chuck.”

“Hi Dennis, are you feeling alright? I noticed that you didn’t come by on Friday. I wondered if you had been sick.”

“No, I wasn’t sick. I stopped by my pharmacy to pick up a prescription. It always takes longer that I expect.”

“Yeah, I picked up my puffers, Friday, and they’ve changed them on me. It’s orange, same as before, but it has an awful taste. I have to gargle with water afterward, otherwise It can cause throat cancer. Then I take a few mints to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth. Anyway, that threw me off my routine. I was half way here before I remembered that I’d forgotten to put my false teeth back in. I was going to phone my lady friend and suggest we go to the mall to have a chicken sandwich. There’s a new chicken place there. Have you tried it? Well, I won’t be able to eat chicken without my teeth. The best I’d be able to muster is a bowl of soup.

“I had most of my teeth knocked out in a fight. There were two left in the front that were wobbly. I went to the dentist to have those pulled. Then I made an appointment to have the rest taken out.  After they were all out I went home and went to bed. I woke up in the hospital. My doctor, in a lavender tux, on one side and my dentist on the other. I apologized to my doctor. I must have taken him away from some fancy affair. That jacket he was wearing was expensive.

“I’m still wearing the suit I bought in 1993. I haven’t even had it dry cleaned. I’m afraid that if I do, it’ll fall apart.  I’ve been told at family gatherings that I’m the best dressed  of all the relations. I’m always freshly shaved, I shower every morning, keep my moustache trimmed. I’m the best looking grandfather there.

“Back when I was drinking and smoking I went to a quack doctor. One morning I woke up and I felt horrible. I wasn’t seeing pink elephants or anything, but I felt strange.  I had a pain in the top of my head. It felt like it was where the two halves of my brain are joined together. Anyway, the doctor asked, ‘Do you drink a lot, smoke a lot?’  I said I did. He asked, ‘Do you intend to quit anytime soon?’ I was honest with him, I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘I’ll give you a prescription. Take it to my pharmacist to get it filled.’ I went where he told me and got four vials of pills. There was valium, lithium, percocet and diazepam. He said the prescription was open so I could get it filled as often as I liked. I was taking these pills by the handful. I’d be going to the pharmacy three times a week. What I didn’t use myself I sold to pay for my drinking.

“After a while i started getting into more and more fights. I thought to myself, I wasn’t like this before I started the pills. As well as being an alcoholic I’d become a drug addict as well.  I’ve read about the side effects of these drugs. They can kill you. That all stopped when I had my heart attacks.

“The psychiatrists and the other ones lower down, the psychologists, are just as bad. A friend of mine went to one of these guys. He told him that if he kept drinking that he’d die of cirrhosis of the liver. The guy had seen his father die of this disease. There was no way he wanted to go through that, so he killed himself. It turned out that there was nothing wrong with his liver.”

I said, “I’m heading for your now.”

Chuck said, “Why? You could just as well stay here and talk with me. No offence meant, but they could probably get along without you.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of, Chuck. I won’t be here tomorrow, but maybe I’ll see you Wednesday, depending on the weather.”

“Do you want to hear my dumb joke of the day? Do you?”

“Okay, Chuck.”

” ‘There were two buffalo, a father and son. The son said to the father, ‘It’s time I went off on my own, to start a new life.” Do you know what the father said, when he was leaving? …Bison.’

“I’ll see you, Dennis.”





5 June 2014

“Hi Ghyslain, are you getting wet” I asked.

“It starts and stops.It’s not too bad. Did you hear that Sweeney died?”


“Yeah, they found him behind the Mission. I can’t even count the number of my friends who have died. Do you remember Rip?”

“No, I’ve only been coming around for the past four years.”

“There was Andre, with the big black dog, Belle. Did you know him, or Crash, or Hobo, Digger,  Tim…?

“No, that was before my time.

I asked “How was your day yesterday?”

“It was okay, quiet, not many people passing by. I went to the Mission for lunch. Someone, or some organization, really has to do something about their food. It’s awful. It tastes like dog food. The place is dirty. They have bed bugs. Because they’re a charity they don’t pay taxes. They were issued a tax exempt statement for eighteen million dollars. We certainly don’t see much of that.

“I’m going to get a coffee, can I get you one?”

“Thanks, Ghyslain, but I have to get to work.

When I approached Chuck, he asked, “Why do you have your umbrella opened? It’s not raining.”

I said, “It starts and stops. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“Just watch Goldie, if she puts her head under her blanket it’s raining, otherwise you’re okay. We had some thunderstorms yesterday. I was in bed and she was beside me — not under the covers, just snuggled up to me. Even before I heard the thunder, she was shaking and snuggling closer. When it gets really bad, she’ll hide behind the stove near the blue box where I keep her food.

“Do you want to hear a joke? This is a golf joke, about Tiger Woods when he played in Ireland.
Taking a wee break from the golf course,

Tiger Woods drives his new Mercedes into an Irish gas station.

An attendant greets him in typical Irish manner, unaware who the golf pro is…

“Top o’ the mornin to ya”.

As Tiger gets out of the car, two tees fall out of his pocket.

“So what are those things, laddie?” asks the attendant.

“They’re called tees,” replies Tiger.

“And what would ya be usin ’em for, now?” inquires the Irishman.

“Well, they’re for resting my balls on when I drive,” replies Tiger.

“Aw, Jaysus, Mary an’ Joseph!” exclaims the Irish attendant.
“Those fellas at Mercedes think of everything!”

‘Here’s another one, this is a true story:

“Based on a bet by the other members of his threesome, Everett Sanchez tried to wash his own “balls” in a ball washer at the local golf course. Proving once again that beer and testosterone are a bad mix, Sanchez managed to straddle the ball washer and dangle his scrotum in the machine. Much to his dismay, one of his buddies upped the ante by spinning the crank on the machine with Sanchez’s scrotum in place, thus wedging them solidly in the mechanism.

“Sanchez, who immediately passed his threshold of pain, collapsed and tumbled from his perch. Unfortunately for Sanchez, the height of the ball washer was more than a foot higher off the ground than his testicles are in a normal
stance, and the scrotum was the weakest link. Sanchez’s scrotum was ripped open during the fall, and one testicle was plucked from him forever and remained in the ball washer, while the other testicle was compressed and flattened as it was pulled between the housing of the washer, and the rotating machinery inside. To add insult to injury, Sanchez broke a new $300 driver that he had just purchased from the pro shop, and was using to balance himself. Sanchez was rushed to the hospital for surgery, and the remaining two members of the threesome were asked to leave the course.

“What do you think of that?” asked Chuck.

I said, “All I can think of is pain.”

“I should perform one of those comedy clubs. I can go on for hours without repeating a joke.”

I said, “I wish you all the best with that, Chuck. Right now I have to go to work. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow, Dennis.”


Clark was sitting in Joy’s spot again today. Still no word about her condition. I said, “Good morning, Clark. Joy has been injured. Someone punched her in the face, she fell and hit her head. She’s had a lot of stitches. Nobody seems to have much information.”

“Did she get in a fight with a woman?”

“No, it was a man. Joy will take on anybody. She brags that she doesn’t punch like a woman.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I know her well. She can have her spot back any time she wants. I didn’t know what had happened to her.”

“Yesterday we were talking about your philosopy of being a Stoic Epicurean. I looked that up on the internet, and now understand more about it.”

“My philosophy, as you call it, covers a broad range from Mythology to Modernism. You could say from Zeus to Seuss, if you catch my meaning.”

I asked, “What books are you reading now?”

“I like to read historical fiction. the last book I read was Russka: The Novel of Russia, by Edward Rutherford. It spans 1800 years of Russian history, people, politics . It’s played out through the lives of four families who are divided by ethnicity but united in shaping the destiny of their land.”

I said, “I’ve read his book London. I really enjoyed it.”

“Russka is similar in that it’s played out through the lives of four families who are divided by ethnicity but united in shaping the destiny of their country.

“I don’t read very much since last March, or if I do I try to get the large print novels.”

“What happened last March?”

“Someone dropped some XTC , or possibly Xalatan in my coffee, or my food. Joy has had the same experience. At first I was disoriented, confused, paranoid. I had shortness of breath. I didn’t know what was happening to me. My vision is still blurry.”

“Why would somebody do that. It’s insane.”

“It could be part of some sort of initiation —  a fraternity or sorority prank. I have no idea. Somebody singled me out for some reason.

“These things are a lot more common in Toronto.”

“Did you live for a long time in Toronto?”

“I was there on and off. In the security field I wasn’t allowed to live within an hour’s drive of Toronto. The idea was that if I was being followed I had that much time to notice the tail, call for backup, change route, or whatever it was they wanted me to do. I never knew what I was carrying. I was in the Man and a Dog Program. I made fifty dollars an hour back in the late sixties. That was a lot of money.”

“How did you like working with a dog?”

“They’re a lot more dependable than humans.”

The first person I met, after getting off the bus, was Chester.

“Hi, Chester, have you heard any news of Joy?”

“Only that she’s home form hospital. She’s got a lot of stitches across her head. Fifi lives in the same building, so she’s been checking on her. That’s all I know.”

“Do you have any idea of how she was hurt?”

“All I know is that she was with Andre (he grimaced) and Hippo. They haven’t been seen around since.”

“Thanks, Chester, take care.”

In Joy’s spot for the second time this week was Clark, sitting quietly on top of his backpack. In front of him was his usual sign HELP CURE HOBOPHOBIA. Above  it was another sign, KEEP OFF THE CRASS. As I sat down I could see a third sign, hidden behind the first, WILL YOU MERRY ME? I asked, “Clark, how are the signs working for you?”

“I get various responses from smiles, to laughter to hostility.”

I said, “Why hostility? Why would these signs invoke any hostility?”

“It’s partly the season; protest season is coming up. It seems to start in the universities. They’re always protesting something, then it spreads to the smaller colleges. I think they watch to see what the reaction will be, then they follow the lead.

“There seems to be a hierarchy. There are leaders and there are those who follow, but I’ve seen other groups called volunteers. Some of them are like nazis, most are white, anglo saxon.”

“Do you mean like white supremacists?”

“Yeah, something like that. They don’t seem too organized. We had an incident at my building a while back. My building houses a lot of people on disability pension. Not me, I pay my own way. I saw one of my neighbors holding this guy by the throat. He was saying to the other guy, ‘You don’t grab me by the throat. You don’t grab my mother by the throat. Understand?’

“Then the police showed up. All they did was get out of their car, put their arms across their chests and shout, ‘Volunteers!’ a bunch of guys from other building came out and there was mayhem. I didn’t stick around. I see us falling into, sort of, a police state. ”

I said, “You seem well informed, what is your background?”

“I went through the separate school system, under the Roman Catholics, then high school, then university. University really opened my eyes. I studied a lot of biology, anthropology and sociology. It wasn’t what the professors taught me, but I learned how to learn. After that I didn’t see the need to pay tuition, so I left.

“I guess my biggest influence was Abraham Maslow. He developed the  hierarchy of needs. He extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. I read a lot of his books. I stay away from psychology, and psychiatry; that’s mostly Freud and Jung.”

I said, “Maslow was the greatest mind of the past century. I’m now reading a book that refers to his theories often.”

Clark said, “I see a slow disintegration of democracy, I call it global swarming. You can see it with the kids on the streets. We’re moving away from the idea of the individual, except for celebrities and sports heroes. We seem to want to know everything about them; what they eat, what they wear. These people are just fronts. They’re told what to say by their publicity managers.”

“How would you define yourself, your ideas?”

“I think of myself as a stoic epicurean and a sceptic. The world always needs sceptics.  This is based  the Aristotelian belief that ‘the sort of person one is and the lifestyle one adopts will  have an immediate bearing on the actions one performs.’ Epicureans argue that the path to securing happiness comes by withdrawing from public life and residing with close, like-minded friends. That’s me.”

To learn more about the Epicurean Life please visit the following:

I was sitting in a shaded part of the park with my friends at noon. Tom asked, “Has anybody seen Matches? He didn’t come home last night. I have his keys, so he won’t be able to get into his place until I find him, or he finds me. I’m going to his office, maybe he’s there.”

I was admiring some of Pierre’s tatoos. He has Yosemite Sam and an eagle carrying a snake on one arm. On the other arm is the Tazmanian Devil. “Those were crazy nights!” he said. “One was done with a gun, the others with needles. They don’t compare with what I see being done now, their are some real artists working now.

Shaggy was making her usual fuss, barking for no apparent reason. Pierre said, “She’s got something to say. What is it Shag? Why don’t you go bite Jacques. Get it out of your system.

” It’s nearly time for her annual visit to the spa. She’ll get her nails done, her coat clipped. She’ll feel strange for the first while.

“She’s a smart dog, a Wheaton Terrier. The vet said she also has some Bearded Collie in her. She’s  bigger than a normal Wheaton and her coat is longer, but if you look up a picture of a  Wheaton Terrier, that’s her.”

Matches wandered over. I asked, ” Where have you been, Matches? Tom’s been looking for you.”

“I stayed at a friend’s place last night.”

“Did the cops treat you alright?” I asked.

“Yeah, they were okay. We just had a discussion, they took me to Hope Recovery, then I excaped, I even got my booze back.

“I was at ‘my office’ when this government dude came by. He’s had a hard on for me for a long time. I said to him, ‘I’ve been here since ’95. How long have you been here?’ He said, ‘Three years.’ I said, ‘So, I’ve got more seniority here than you do.’

“The people from the restaurant saw what was happening. They came over and the guy offered to drive me to his place. They take good care of me.”

Raven said, “Matches, you’re wearing your leather jacket. You must be hot.”

“I’m always hot, that’s what the women tell me. If those two over there see you talking to me, they’ll get jealous.”

“Matches, you’re too funny.”

2 May 2012

Matches said, “We were watching some people exercising in another area of the park last year, I was sitting on a bench at the far side of the park, over there. There were some military guys, cadets, I guess you call them. They were doing callisthenics. That’s what they called it then. I joined in with them. I was able to keep up. My daughter yelled at me, “Dad, get away from there!’

“I was hitting on some women, so they made me leave.”

“Dennis, can you help me with this, my hands are shaking.” Matches handed me his drinking bottle and a bottle of sherry. I asked, “Do you want it filled right to the top?”

“Yes, please. Could I also have some bus tickets? Sometimes I can hop on at the back door; sometimes I can’t. Last night I put a handfull of change in the ticket box and the driver said, ‘That’s not enough.’ I said, “It must be enough, I put over two bucks in there (fare prices are now $3.30.)  He wouldn’t move the bus. Some of the other passengers were getting perturbed. They said, ‘For Christ’s sake how much does he owe?’ A couple of guys put some money in for me. Then the bus driver started moving the bus.”

It was time for me to leave, so I shook hands all around the circle and said I’d be back tomorrow.

1 May 2013

I went to the park at noon. The sun was hot, almost uncomfortably hot. I shook hands with Tom, Wolf and his dog Shaggy, Jacques, Outcast, Chili and Gaston. I sat cross-legged on the sidewalk in front of Gaston. He has a soft voice wo I had to move closer.

“I haven’t seen you for a long time, Gaston. How have you been doing?”

“I keep busy, doing some landscaping and a variety of work for elderly people. We have great conversations. I like to keep my own hours.

“My brother is in the military. I was talking to him about psychology, interpreting body language, that sort of thing. We talked about kids today, how they have no respect. You see them on the street with a glazed look in their eyes. They don’t connect. Kids like that I can’t teach.

“He proposed to me that I give a talk at the military base. There may even be full time work for me there. That would make things easier for me.

“My other brother, his wife and kids came by from Montreal. I’ve been teaching a course at my house and have these yellow sticky reminders everywhere: on the fridge, on my walls in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. It’s my memory. I’ve even got reminders to look at reminders.

“I’m hoping to start a course at 507 to get homeless people more involved in the community. They’re capable of more than just laying around.” He nodded toward Matches who was sprawled on the grass.

I was very involved in our conversation, asking Gaston about psychology and psychiatry. I asked him about specific titles and authors that he could recommend. Then I heard a loud noise beside me.

Two bicycle patrol cops had pulled up and were talking to Shakes. One had kicked his bottle over.

“Hey, Why did you do that to me?”

“You know you’re not allowed to drink here.”

“That was my Jack Daniels. It was my first drink of the day.”

“Shakes, if you’re sprawled on the grass like this, drinking, people will complain, then we’ll be called.”

“I understand what you are saying, but do you understand what I’m saying.”

“Just go someplace out of view of the public, someplace that we don’t patrol, and you’ll be okay.”

It was time for me to get back to work. Everyone else drifted away from the uniforms.