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Getting away and finding trouble

I had just finished lunch at my desk and had time for a short siesta. I leaned back in my chair and placed my feet on the desk.

Yes, I put my feet up on the coffee table sans shoes at home. I closed my eyes and then I heard a voice yell out “Hello, anyone here? Hello!” So much for the rest. Occasionally, salespeople walk in to market a product. I was tempted to reply no one’s home. The words never got out of my mouth. A man stood in the office doorway and peered at me. “Hello, sorry if I’m bothering you, sir. Are you the counselor?” Yes, I am. How do you do? “I was on a walk from my hotel when I noticed your counseling service inscribed on the window. I thought … why not, I’m going in.” Please have a seat. What’s your name, sir?

“My name is Jacob. Larry and I, my partner in business and husband, are staying at one of the local hotels. We’re visiting from Boston. Actually, we rented a car for a short trip from Buffalo to check out the Comedy Center here in Jamestown. Larry’s folks reside in Buffalo and we were visiting them. Thought we’d check out the Comedy Center. Larry dabbles in stand-up at clubs with open mike. So you probably want to know what prompted me to walk right in.” Yes, I stated, the question crossed my mind.

“Well, Larry and I got up from a nap and I thought we’d take a walk, you know, check out the city. We both like to walk and stay in shape. Larry begged out of the idea and I walked alone. You see, I’m worried about him. Hey, I’m talking up your rest time.” Oh, no big deal, Jacob. Continue if you like. I’m free for a couple of hours. “All right then. What can I tell you?” Well, what were you experiencing as you walked past my window? “Good question.”

“Can I lay it out on the line?” Sure, Jacob. “Well, we’ve carved out a pretty decent life. We’ve been married ever since the law went into effect. Larry and I have been partners for 20 years. We’re in our late 50s. We don’t have children. We reside in Boston. We own a very established restaurant. I’m a chef and Larry is a renowned pastry chef. The success of our restaurant has morphed into consulting work for us both. We help start-up restaurants develop a menu and business plan. We travel extensively. We’ve trained good people to run the restaurant when we’re out of Boston. Larry originates from Buffalo. His parents and sister still live there. They were restaurateurs. Larry cut his teeth, so to speak, with them. We’re good. His folks are outrageous. We visit them regularly. We all get along famously. Let me take a breath.”

So, Jacob, you’re worried about Larry. Please elaborate. Explain your concern. “Well, like I said, we love comedy. Larry is a stitch. He laughs a lot and does great at open mike stand-up in the Boston region. It is lots of fun. Lately, maybe a few months, he’s been in a sour mood. He’s been eating a lot, gaining weight, and stopping his work-outs. He’s drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. We love our wine and beer, but he’s over indulging. He flails his arms in his sleep. He drags himself out of bed. Intimacy, which has been great, is nonexistent. I might make a passing comment; then he snaps at me. He’ll tell me to leave him alone; to mind my own business.” So, Jacob, what do you think is happening? Are you two all right? “Yes, I think we’re fine. Well, this mood stuff is new. I’ve never seen him so sour. Oh, he’s had moments but not lasting months.” Do you think Larry is depressed? Has he seen a physician lately just to get a check-up? I mean, is he sick?

“I don’t know, Marshall. Can I call you Marshall?”

Of course, Jacob. He sat quietly for a minute. Tears came to his eyes and silently journeyed down his face. Listen, Jacob, how long are you two planning to stay in town? “A couple of days, Marshall”

I’d like to invite you to come back, say tomorrow, with Larry if it doesn’t interfere with your plans. “Sounds possible. Let me call you after I return to the hotel” He left. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton an d Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@observertoday.com.

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