My Submission ISSUE #14
(theme is narcissism image is FPO)
The Narcissist Is I
by Ben Mack
Showering under tepidly warm water at New York Presbyterian Hospital Dr. Christopher Michael Barberio had a quaking insight—I am a Narcissist. Holy fucking Mary, mother of Jesus, Jesus was right. Jesus had been teaching him, “Forgive them for they know not what they do” and Dr. Barberio had been too self-absorbed to grok that this meant him, too.
Dr. Barberio’s head hurts, as it thumped the back of the shower just before he went slithering down. Awkward, yet safely situated, Dr. Barberio knows an orderly is about to bust in on him at any moment, and he knows his head hurts, and his mind is reeling from the blast of the impact inside his mind, realizing he is a Narcissist.
Orderly Adigbola bursts through the unlockable bathroom door yelling, “What was that?” She’s a virago, an angry woman who eats through her denial and does faux Zen on the weekends to discharge the pain she inflicts on others for a living. Imagine a black version of Nurse Ratchet, only with less power and more rage.
It is unpleasant for anybody to be a naked patient in front of her, especially a doctor.
“I fell” dismisses Dr. Barberio as he grasps the shower-hand-rest to help himself up. Hospital showers are about as safe as they come, following self-contained underwater colonies and submarines. Stay on focus… explain what happened. “I slipped.”
Adigbola, “I see that. You faint or something?”
Hoisting himself up, Chris turns off the shower. “My foot must have been between the non-sticks when I turned on the ball of my foot and the next thing I knew I was slipping.”
This is the time to be as humble as Chris can muster, which is truly what he intends based on his insight just moments ago. The trick here is turning off his reactive mind in the face of a vast superiority complex.
Chris takes his towel from beside Adigbola. “My foot must have been between the non-sticks when I turned on the ball of my foot, and the next thing I knew, I was slipping. I landed safely.” She is staring at him. Okay, time to dry.
Before unwrapping and exposing his genitals Chris turns away from Adigbola. Chris’ drying ritual starts with his hair. Under the stare of Orderly Adigbola, an intensity best described as sustained scrutiny, Chris asks, “Do you want me to see Dr. Jamie to look at my head? I’m not bleeding or anything, but maybe it would be good to be safe?”
Safe. That’s a magic word that hospital staff can’t hear too often. Ironically, it’s a word that when CIA operatives use means simply the opposite, the asset is a danger requiring containment. A safe house is not engineered for the safety and happiness of the person, but for the safety and security of the operation.
Adigbola, “That won’t be necessary.” She continues to observe Chris as he turns around. Now fully exposed, and presenting himself as carefree, she crosses her arms and says, “You just made me late for dinner because I can’t leave until after I write up this incident report.”
Dr. Chris censors himself from asking: what incident. The primary difference between a so-called hospital and a traditional corporation is how they sort minutia. For instance, when somebody in a for-profit occupational environment says what incident, everybody upwardly mobile gets those words to be code for: let’s pretend this didn’t happen. However, in so-called non-profit hospitals that phrase is heard as caustic and a symptom of denial.
A secondary distinction between hospitals and healthy corporations is their relationship with the absurd. No well-branded corporation would have a classification of folks called rapists. Throughout most Western hospitals you will see signage like that of Howard W. Campbell THERAPIST
Lucky Mike, also known as Dr. Christopher Michael Barberio had been meditating on the wisdom of Jesus of Natheris when figuratively lightening struck.
Jesus had been teaching him, “Forgive them for they know not what they do” and Dr. Barberio had been too self-absorbed to grok what this meant for him, until moments ago. What Chris transubstantiated appeared to him as an enveloping lovingly warm pink light filling his shower as he realized that as he was capable of forgiving other for they knew not what they did, he was capable of forgiving himself for what his own trespassings because he knew not what he had done, back then, at those times.
He was free at last.
To the amateur, or layman, sharing such an insight might appear hugely therapeutic. To the high strained professional such as Adigbola, this is evidence of need for greater medications. The mentioning of religious experiences without the context of a Judeo-Christian arbiter of reality, frequently called a priest, pastor or minister, would be alarming to a pseudo-Zen practicing aggressively-anti-socialite such as New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Adigbola.
For Adigbola and scaredy-cats like her, “Zen” is a panacea to “forget” traumas. She’s not likely to see that she smothers her monkey-mind the way an alcoholic tames their demons. So it goes.