imagesUrs Truly is not often invited to shing-dings and parties. This is a pity as I have so many Spo-shirts to show. On the other hand the lack of bacchanals etc. saves me from the dreaded cocktail conversation called “So, what do you do?” Unless this is a party of ill-repute this means what do I do for a living.  I try to avoid this question in general; putting people into (occupation) boxes is not a good way to really know another.  In my case, the question is even more ticklish. There is nothing like saying the “P” word at a party to change the mood.   I used to lie and say I am an actuary which got most people to leave me alone.  Sometimes I reply I am a doctor (true) but this is “P-light” viz. I get a lot of sudden changes good and bad.

When I say “I am a psychiatrist”  many (the majority?) of party people do one of the following:

  1. Run away.
  2. Pick a peeve and try to get me to defend it.
  3. Ask for (free) medical advice.
  4. Start telling me their dreams.

Let’s start with 4).  There is nothing more boring to a psychiatrist than being asked to analyze a dream given impromptu and without context. Sometimes I cut the dreamer short by asking them to first provide their co-pay. Sometimes if I am tipsy (or the speaker handsome) I pretend to listen and after they are done rambling I reply with some generic chestnut or I tell him he and everyone in his life needs to take medications as soon as possible.

3) ain’t so bad as I always stick to general knowledge and I do like to shoot my mouth off. If they keep pressing for more freebies or specific advice I start asking personabl questions about their bowels, menstrual cycles, or sexual functioning, usually in a louder voice so others can listen in to benefit from my font of wisdom.

Under the right circumstances 2) can be jolly good fun. “Why should I have to defend that?” is usually not accepted.  Then I channel The Dark side of Psychiatry and pull up my Inner-Hannibal-Lector and cat-like before a cornered mouse I toy with them long enough to get them to leave in a huff or take route a).

Which leads us to 1).  This really happens. I was once at a party being sized up by a young woman (so much for her judgment) until I said I was a psychiatrist. Her eyes widened and she turned around and ran quickly out of the room and was probably never heard from again.  I sure know how to clear a room.

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