The first thing I noticed when she walked into the waiting room that morning was her hair. She had started out with shoulder-length, straight blond hair when she began seeing me for therapy. Then the cancer hit and the chemo and she shaved her head. After she got done with all that, her hair grew in short and white blond and she liked how it made her face stand out and decided to keep it short. But then she began to think that her hair was the reason men weren’t interested in her anymore and she started experimenting with the color. One time it turned light green and she cried for the whole hour. The next time it was a yellower blond. She kept that for a while and spent a whole session talking about her hair stylist Russ and how Russ just couldn’t get the color right but she didn’t want to leave him because he’d been her friend for ten years.
Now, I’m a psychoanalyst and what we do is interpret the unconscious mind of the patient in relation to us so I told her that maybe I was the “hair stylist” who couldn’t get “the color” right for her and maybe she was telling me like a baby whose mother can’t find the right way to comfort her that I had to try harder and do better. But she didn’t understand psychoanalytic interpretation or care for that matter so she said no, she wasn’t talking about me or her mother but just Russ, the hair stylist.
Well, sometimes psychoanalysis works and sometimes it doesn’t. Anyway, this time when she came for therapy she looked like she was wearing a faux fur wig on her head, all spiked up with gel in shades of orange, rust and yellow. Before I could get over my shock, Charlie my rooster who knew her quite well and had always behaved like a perfect gentleman in the past suddenly flew up and attacked her on the legs. I had never seen anything like it before. What they do (chickens, that is) is jump in the air and aim feet first, striking out with their big sharp claws like a boxer’s fists. […]
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Brandon French is the only daughter of an opera singer and a Spanish dancer, born in Chicago at the end of the Second World War. She has been assistant editor of Modern Teen Magazine, a topless Pink Pussycat cocktail waitress, an assistant professor of English at Yale, a published film scholar, a playwright and screenwriter, director of development at Columbia Pictures Television, an award-winning advertising copywriter and creative director, a psychoanalyst in private practice, and a mother. French was nominated for the Kirkwood Prize in Fiction at UCLA and her work has been published in literary journals including Blue Lyra Review, Thrice Fiction, Calliope, The Nassau Review, Specs, and Soundings Review, among many others.