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Nightmare on National TV
By Barb Hansen
November 3, 2003

As nightmares go, this was a chiller. I woke in a sweat and shook Vic so I could tell him about it. A real nice couple we know, clients actually, were on national television and they were being grilled by all the daytime television problem-solvers. I was in the studio audience.

The audience was chanting “Jer-rey, Jer-rey, Jer-rey”

Springer raised his arm and quieted everybody down and he said, “Today’s guest is here because he has been searching for something. Please welcome Bernard from Florida. Bernard, welcome to Chicago. You are here to tell your wife something. Tell her now.”

Bernard told about how he had been looking all over the U.S. for years and years for the perfect boat for his family, a boat with just the right space, not too big to handle, not too complicated, plenty of power but not too expensive to operate, something at the right price, didn’t have to be fancy, etc. etc. And, on national television, he confessed to Ethel and their children and grandchildren that he was giving up, he could not search for the perfect boat any more. He was worn out, discouraged; he was, yes, a failure.

“You’re a Pisces, ain’tcha darhling?” The voice was different. I looked up – I know this sounds crazy – Jerry Springer wasn’t there anymore. The emcee was Miss Cleo.

“I know dat you are a Pisces because I can see that da fish swim in both directions. But, my dear, things happen for a reason. You have a good thing in Florida with your family and children. Nobody is incarcerated. Did you have a question, love?

Yes, Bernie said, I really need help. How do I find just the right boat for me and Ethel and all the grand children so we can go cruising together?

The voice had changed yet again. “Well, Bernard, what I wonna know is, are you avoiding … reality? I mean this is a big deal.” I opened my embarrassed eyes. Just what I thought. It was Dr. Phil.

“Bernard, how are you doing overall? What are the things that you are most ashamed of? And, what do you think you ought to do? Give me a short answer. Gotta run.”

Dr. Phil morphed into a woman wearing thick glasses. “Ethel, let me ask you something, just the two of us. Has he been obsessing about this boat thing and is he trying to control you? Do you need assertiveness training, Ethel,” Now it was Sally Jesse Raphael asking questions. But before Ethel could answer SJR they were both interrupted by yet another familiar voice.

“No no no no no. No no no no no. I’m speaking. Listen to me. Hello. Helloooo.” The cameraman cut to Judge Judy and her lips were moving but Dr. Phil was still talking, telling Bernard “this is going to be a changing day in your life.” And Miss Cleo was saying, “Yeah, dat’s da daddy.” And the crowd was chanting “Jer-rey, Jer-rey, Jer-rey.”

Ethel was crying. Bernard took her gently by the arm and led her off the stage. They hailed a taxi, raced to O’Hare and jumped on the first flight back to Fort Myers.

Vic and I have an appointment with Bernard and Ethel next week and we’ll tell them what we told them before, the same thing we tell everybody looking for a boat.

First, repeat after me, there-are-no-perfect-boats. Second, understand that before you can find the right boat, you have to find yourself. Sometimes you charter for a while, then you buy. Sometimes you charter for a while, then you charter some more. Maybe you buy a boat or maybe you finally decide you’d rather charter forever. It’s okay.

The point is, professional help is available…without the TV cameras.

What a dream. Must have been the late night pizza.
 

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