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    Medicating Madame Bovary (While Waiting for Godot)


    Photograph by Jacques Prayer / Getty 

    You have reached the voice mail of Dr. Celexa Sue Sanders. I’m away for the holiday. Dr. Stuart Fish will also be out of the office. Press one if you are Anna Karenina. Press two if you are Hamlet and have decided “to be.” If you’re going with “sleep, perchance to dream,” hang up and pay your bill. Press three if you are Godot. Press four if you are Dr. Stuart Fish.

    You have pressed one. Anna, as we discussed, throwing yourself in front of a train is not healthy, not even in Russia. If you feel tempted to lie down in front of transportation, especially a steamship, go straight to the E.R. Do not call an ambulance!

    You have pressed two. Hamlet, the soliloquy message you left this morning is disturbing. If you pose an imminent danger to yourself or Claudius, it’s important to let me know now so that I can alert the police and not be sued by Gertrude. In the meantime, double your Zoloft dosage.

    You have pressed three. Godot, yesterday was the one thousand three hundred and sixty-seventh appointment you’ve missed. I waited till six-forty-five. Are Tuesdays at two-thirty still a good time to meet?

    You have pressed four. Stuey, Gate B33. Boarding! I have your ostrich pillow and oceans of champagne, darling. And your bratwurst on rye.


    You’ve reached the voice mail of Dr. Celexa Sue Sanders. Happy New Year. I’ll be out of the office until . . . I don’t know when, for reasons beyond my control. Dr. Stuart Fish may or may not be out of the office. Press one if you are Gregor Samsa. Press two if you are Hamlet. Press three if you are Oedipus. Press four if you are Dr. Stuart Fish. If this is Thucydides, thank you for your inquiry, but I do not take nonfiction patients.

    You have pressed one. Gregor, unfortunately Medicaid no longer covers cockroaches or Jews. Let’s hold off on the Thorazine for your delusions. I’ve prescribed boric acid twice daily. Generic is fine.

    You have pressed two. Hamlet, obviously the Zoloft isn’t working. My colleague Howie Berman will be in touch to make an appointment. He was the script doctor on “Ghosts in My Pants, Now Mommy’s Mine!” and “The Whiner,” so he shares your sensibility and might be able to make you more likable.

    You have pressed three. Oedipus, yes, let’s schedule a double session to talk about this when I return, but something tells me that the issue with your neighbor’s oxen trespassing on the kingdom’s property and eating the royal swine is not your biggest problem.

    You have pressed four. Stuart, I’m at the hotel. Where are you?! Rabbi’s here. Guests are waiting. Even Cousin Jeannie.


    This is the voice mail of Celexa Sue. Hey, does my voice sound funny? Soooo, I’m not here. Who knows where Dr. Stuart Fisssshhh is. If you’re Fishface, I fed your stupid bratwurst and also the champagne to the birds.


    You have reached the former office of Dr. Celexa Sue Sanders. Hamlet, stop procrastinating and kill Claudius already, will you? Bartleby the Scrivener, I couldn’t care less if you take your Wellbutrin or if you don’t. Pangloss, flush all remaining medication down the toilet. Walgreens just notified me that, instead of Prozac, they mistakenly gave you MDMA. Do not operate heavy machinery or ask someone to marry you, and then that person uses up all her SkyMiles to travel to a godforsaken Caribbean island, having spent too much money on a Vera Wang dress with leg-of-mutton sleeves that she’ll never wear. If you’re Nancy Drew, I know that therapists aren’t supposed to seek help from their patients, but screw professionalism. Now that you’ve finished cracking “The Mystery of What’s That Smell in Grandpop’s House?,” can I hire you to get the lowdown on a certain man who’s a more vile piece of vermin than a cockroach? The intel is for a friend of a friend. Madame Bovary, if you haven’t killed yourself yet, I may need some of your extra arsenic. ♦

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