Sorry it's been so long, everyone. I hope this makes up for the time lapse. This story has its funny moments, but its tone is more somber and serious than the usual posts.
I am giving you all a glimpse into my personal life on this one. There are a couple of things you should know before we get started...
1) I suffer from depression. I take meds, but every now and again I need to get the prescription adjusted. Keeps me level.
2) While I was at school, I used to date a Canadian. I don't talk to her any more. You'll soon see why.
3) My family is really close. I'm serious. We're like the Cleavers and the Cosbys.
-The Server Goes to the Loony Bin-
It's a beautiful day at The Restaurant. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the waitresses are wearing short shorts. I'm walking in, swinging my apron around like a kid going around-the-world with a yo-yo. Life is good.
The only thing weighing heavy on my mind is a conversation I had the night before with The Canadian. It didn't go well. In fact, it ended with me yelling, "You make me want to shoot myself!" before hanging up. Mature, I know. But I'm young and emotional, which isn't a good combo.
As soon as I walk in, Valerie calls me into the office.
"Call your Dad. You no work today. I get your shift covered." I blink and rub my eyes. Valerie is going to give me a day off? Something must be really wrong.
My mind whirs. Is my Dad hurt? My Mom? My little Sister? What the hell is going on?
I grab the office phone and dial my house. My Dad picks up on the first ring.
"Dad, what's going on? Is everyone ok?" I brace myself, preparing for the worst.
"Everyone's fine, buddy. Can you meet me at the gym?" This is weird... my Dad doesn't take days off, and all of a sudden he feels like he needs to miss work and start working out?
"That's fine. Can you tell me what's going on?"
"I'd rather talk over a game of HORSE, ok?" We used to do this when I was little. Everytime there was big news, we'd talk about it over a game of HORSE. This must be important...
This day just went from beautiful, to odd, to ominous.
I drive over to the gym and start warming up. A short while later, my Dad shows up.
We go at it for two games. He doesn't take it easy on me any more. We split the games. I kill him with trick shots and threes from the corner. He makes me look silly with his left-handed reverse layups and free throws. Funny how old-school fundamentals and new-school flash even out.
My curiosity grows throughout our games. The old man hasn't said a word, and he seems to be in good spirits. Normally, I can get a pretty good read on people. In this case, even though it's my father, I'm clueless. Finally, he's ready to talk.
"Hey, buddy, got a call from The Canadian this morning. She's a bit worried about you."
What?! This whole thing is about a stupid fight I had with the Canadian? And what the hell is she doing calling my parents? I feel like I'm in a fifth grade feud... 'I'm telling on you!'
"OK...." I can't think of anything else to say.
"I think it's time we go back to the doc to adjust your meds." Ah, I see. No big deal. It's probably time for an adjustment. A quick visit to the doc and I'll be good to go.
"What time is the appointment?"
"Well, we should just make it if we leave now."
"Alright, let's go."
We hop into his car and head off towards the doctors office. I didn't sleep well after the fight with The Canadian. I'm tired. Watching the trees shoot by the car, I start to nod off.
When I come to, we've stopped. There's just one problem. We're at the hospital, not the doctor's office.
"Dad, what's going on?"
"I got a reference for a new doctor. He works here. The family doc says he's like a chemist with anti-deppressants." Sounds good to me.
We walk in past the front desk. We amble through the corridors until we reach a set of double doors. A placard reading "Mental Health Ward" hangs over them. Whoever did the sign has a macabre sense of humor. The words have been scrawled in an olde English script, conjuring images of the old asylums where the inmates were tortured. If they weren't insane when they arrived, undoubtably they were batty when they left.
After passing through these doors, my Dad turns to me.
"Son, I've already talked to your doctor. He thinks you should stay here overnight, just to clear your mind." Ah Ha! So this is why he was acting so oddly.
"Why? I don't feel that bad." I don't mind changing my meds, but this place is kind of creepy. Buncha folks walking around in paper pajamas, looking really unhappy.
"Well, the Canadian told your mom and I that you were thinking about suicide. That makes us kind of nervous."
"Whoa... hold on there. That was taken completely out of context! I'm fine, really!" I carry on like this for about half an hour. I can see the steely resolve in my father's eyes. I'm staying here whether I like it or not. Shit. This puts a damper on my afternoon plans.
"Fine. What do I have to do?" I turn to the orderly. He makes me fill out a form. He takes my belt (in case I try to hang myself), my shoelaces (in case I try to use them to saw my wrists), and my dignity. Even though I'm 90% clothed, I feel as naked as I've ever felt.
My Dad hugs me before he leaves. For the only time in my life that I can remember, I don't hug him back. I'm pissed.
I sit on a bench for a while, watching the other "guests" in the ward. There is a woman in her mid-30's. She's got a visitor, but she isn't talking to him. She's completely listless, holding her head in her hands.
Another woman, in her early-80's, is walking towards the orderly stand, across the hall from where I'm sitting.
"Where is my red pill?" Her voice reminds me of sandpaper scraping across gravel.
"Delores, you don't get a red pill tonight." The orderly is friendly.
"I need my red pill, you bastard." Delores is getting angry.
"Now Delores, don't be like that. The doc says you don't get one tonight." He remains calm and friendly.
"Give me my red pill you stupid motherfucker." I'm trying not to laugh. This shit is better than TV.
"Delores, if you don't calm down, we're going to have to put you in the restraints."
"Fuck you!" Delores turns to go, then stops. She turns back to the orderly, murder in her eyes. I outweigh Delores by about 90 lbs., but that look makes me uncomfortable.
I'm looking for something blunt and heavy when I hear something that sounds like a shotgun.
I dive behind the bench.
Now the orderly is cracking up. I sneak a look.
Delores has just shit herself. There's a brown stain on her otherwise pearly-white night gown. Oh... my... God.... No way I just saw that!
The orderly takes Delores to the bathroom to clean up. While he's gone, I notice a phone on his desk. I know he'll be busy with her for a while, so I decide to take advantage.
I use a calling card to call the Canadian.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Beats 'hello' anyday.
"What do you mean? Calling your parents?"
"Yes, calling my parents. Do you know where I am? I'm in the fucking loony bin!"
"I didn't mean for that to happen!" She sounds sorry, but sorry doesn't get me out of the loony bin, does it?
"I can't believe this... I don't know if I can forgive you for this one. I better go, the orderly is done cleaning up the old lady that shit herself." I hang up and let her stew on that one.
Over the next couple hours, I'm privy to some of the everyday occurrences of the mental health ward. A fight nearly breaks out when someone switches the channel from PAX to Lifetime. One older gentleman mutters to himself in the corner. I'm introduced to my roommate, who has two fresh bandages on his wrist from his most recent suicide attempt.
I'm going through this whole thing in a haze, alternately cursing my parents and the Canadian. Ultimately, I realize that I'm more pissed at the Canadian. My parents were just looking out for their son. She was looking to hurt me after our fight.
That evening, everyone is told to retire to their rooms. It's 8:00. The orderly gives me a pill to help me sleep.
"Doctor's orders," he says with a wink. He's a good guy. I take the pill and slip into the void of sleep.
"GET THE FUCK OFF ME YOU STUPID MOTHER FUCKERS!!!! I'LL KILL YOU!! GET OFF ME!!!"
I shoot out of bed, disoriented. Where the hell am I? Oh yeah, the booby hatch.
Two orderlies are dragging my roommate out of his bed. He's screaming bloody murder.
A third man stands in the corner. He's tapping his clipboard with a pen. He looks bored.
"What are they doing to him?"
"He has ECT this morning." For those of you not in the know, ECT stands for "electro-convulsive therapy", the newer, happier-sounding name of electric shock therapy. The same electric shock therapy that we all remember from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Good times.
I get to call my parents. They tell me that the doctor is supposed to meet with me by 10, so I should be out by noon. Thank God.
The morning passes uneventfully. The only event of interest is "exercise hour". This is actually a half hour in which the "guests" are allowed to walk around a small courtyard.
There is a ping pong table. I ask one of the guests to play with me. It's the same lady that had a guest the day before. I was looking forward to a nice, quiet game.
Turns out the lady is bipolar. Last night, she was down. Today, she's manic. She's talking a mile a minute. I know her life's story by the end of the game.
The doctor doesn't show up until 6 pm that evening. My parents are here. They're ticked. They wanted me to be able to relax for an evening. Instead, they worry that I've been traumatized. Can't say that I blame them. Honestly, had Delores not started the events on such and uplifting note, I would have been miserable.
The doctor prescribes me some new meds. Sweet.
I get my shoelaces and belt back, and we're on our way.
In the car ride home, I reflect back on my stay at the loony bin. I'm not mad at my parents for putting me there. They always want what's best for me. However, I feel bad for those who make a permanent home there. That's no way to live.
As for the Canadian... I haven't forgiven her. Honestly, I don't even know how she feels about it. I haven't spoken to her since. I don't know if I'm being shallow about this whole thing. I mean, after all... I did get a great story out of the ordeal.