Joshua Severance and John D. Truett

I drink decaffeinated coffee in the morning and lite beer at night. I drink a lot of both. The coffee gives the illusion of morning, of things getting off to a start. The beer gives the day closure. It takes a while, but it gets closed, eventually. What happens in between is what I'm trying to get in order, so I divide the day as evenly as I can between the decaf and the lite. It's one way of establishing balance. Balance is the important thing.

When other disillusioned people see that you're working at working things out, it makes them nervous. If you're depressed all the time, have predictable psychotic fits, or drink too much and play air guitar on the bar, people get used to that. But once they sense that you're trying seriously to figure things out, you become the horse that shits in their parade. Just ask F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Or my ex-shrink.

"Earlier, you referred to your marriage as an 'expired lot.' You said, 'Ours is the story of two people who met and fell in love. Then one of us fell out of love." This was my shrink speaking. "I think there is serious meaning in 'expired lot,' Josh."

"Look," I said, "I sell pharmaceuticals for a living. It's language of the trade. If I were a carburetor man or a proctologist, I suppose I'd find another metaphor."

But my shrink, Something Belcher, wouldn't buy it. Poor guy had the look of a human punching bag.

The therapy was killing me. So, step one, I dumped my therapist. And I felt better-like finally parking your car after a long trip of competing for the wheel. At seventy-five dollars a pop, I figured I could clean the counter of decaf and the cooler of Milwaukee's Best Lite for the price of one session. Besides, Belcher had developed a pattern of starting each session with personal experience that began, "When I first entered therapy-." I suppose he wanted me to seize upon a single word, make him angry, work him through his anger, and then leave him with the illusion of having found some balance. I had better things to do.

Like drinking with my attorney.