Monday, February 3, 1986
John is a small bald man with a permanent look of irritation on his face. Or maybe he's just irritated at me because, after parking my truck in front of his house, stepping out of the cab, I plunged my left foot into a mud puddle - and my right foot into dog shit. I'm a bit irritated, too. This day can only get better, I'm thinking. I'm a cup-half-full kind of guy.
John is a psychologist. His office is at the side of his house. A redheaded woman is outside the door of the office, pacing, glancing at her watch. John ignores her. He has a dog, a black lab, running loose in the yard and out into the street chasing cars.
This is Portola Valley, a highly regulated town. In Portola Valley you are not allowed to have a medical business attached to your house. You are not allowed to have an unfenced dog, nor to let your dog chase cars. You are required to pick up your dog's shit.
John admonishes me to remove my shoes, which I would have done anyway. He admits me into his living room where there is a grapefruit-size hole in the ceiling. He wants me to patch it.
"What happened?" I ask.
"You don't have to know that," John says, looking irritated.
On the wall is a large painting of an old woman, completely naked, standing in the ballet position known as efface derriere. The painting is, uh, anatomically detailed. On the old woman's face, staring right at you (or the painter) is a look of extreme irritation.
I go back to my truck for tools. John goes to his office where the redheaded woman is still standing outside the door. She says, “John, I just want you to know that I’m really angry about this. I planned my whole day around this appointment and now it’s too late.”
John looks irritated. He says, “Do you want to talk about it?”
“NO I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!”
From the sidelines, I almost cheer.
Then, unfortunately, the woman goes into his office. I guess she's going to talk about it. Returning to John's living room, watched by a painting, I patch the ceiling.