Other Stories

Whistle Berries

A woman wrote me asking for therapy … I wrote back and told her I’d see her, why doesn’t she call on the phone? She wrote back, “I’m too ashamed to call on the phone. I don’t think you could stand the sight of me. I don’t think you’d stand hearing what I have to say.” Then she wrote she’d like an appointment but would please give her an appointment well after dark and would I make certain that nobody saw her enter the office, or see her leave. I wrote back that I’d meet her wishes. I was really curious about a patient that fearful of seeing a doctor and so insistent. It took her about six months for her to get up enough courage to come after dark, and very reluctantly she told me her story. She was in college at ASU. She was writing on the blackboard and she passed flatus loudly, and she was so embarrassed she ran out of the room, went to her apartment, locked the door, drew down the blinds, and thereafter ordered her groceries by phone, and had her groceries dropped at a certain place where she could pick them up after dark. And she remained in her apartment six long months with the blinds drawn. I asked her her religion and she said she’d recently been converted to the Catholic faith. I asked her what she knew about passing flatus or breaking wind. She said, “It’s a HORRIBLE, AWFUL thing to do … AND TO DO IT PUBLICLY! Other people hear it. It’s just too awful!!” And she stays in her apartment for six months, ordering her food by phone and picked up after dark. I saw her a few times, always questioning her about her religious faith. And she was really a converted Catholic. People who convert to Catholicism are usually very, very devout. I questioned her extensively about her devotion to the Catholic Church and she avowed herself to be a TRUE Catholic . . . “It’s the only true Christian faith.” Then I asked her, “Who made man?” “God did.” “How did He fashion man?” “After Himself.” “And woman?” “He fashioned her from man’s rib.” “Do you ordinarily expect God to do sloppy work?” She said, “How can you speak so disrespectfully?” I said, “YOU’RE THE ONE that’s disrespectful!!” She said, “I am not.” I said, “I can PROVE you are.” I hauled out my anatomy book, showed her the cross section of the human body at the pelvic level. I said, “You say God fashioned man after His own image. These illustrations show you in detail some of God’s handiwork. I think the rectal sphincter is the most marvelous piece of engineering and I don’t know any human engineer who can fashion a valve that holds solids, liquids and air and can emit downward just air. I think you ought to respect God’s handiwork. And I want you to show some respect for God’s handiwork. I want you to go back to your apartment and bake some beans flavored with garlic and onion. And get into the nude. Beans are called whistle berries in the Navy and I want you to eat plenty of whistle berries… I want you to make LOUD ones, soft ones, BIG ones, small ones. I want you to prance around the apartment admiring God’s handiwork.” She obeyed orders and went back to school after first eating whistle berries.

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