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
The audience was chanting “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
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,
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.
“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.
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.