O.C.D. & Me

In this play for Radio/Audio, Dean is lonely, inadequate mid-20’s, young man who lives on his own in a bedsit.  Having visited his GP many times and been on and off medication for mild depression, he is finally referred to see a Psychologist, and is surprised, and somewhat delighted with his diagnosis.  However, the treatment plan suggested, triggers off a series of incidents, which ultimately, but not by intention, resolve his issue of loneliness. 

Alan Grant.

ALL ACTION TAKES PLACE WITHIN THE CONSULTING ROOMS OF DR ETHAN AMIS, A CONSULTANT PSYCHOLOGIST EMPLOYED BY THE LOCAL NHS.  THE DOCTOR IS IN HIS MID 50’s, DEAN HIS PATIENT IS MID 20’s).

FX              (KNOCK TO DOOR)

DOCTOR   Come in Dean.

FX              (KNOCK TO DOOR REPEATED)

DOCTOR    (SHOUTS) Dean come in. (FX DOOR OPENS SOUND OF DEAN CLOSE TO MIC)

DEAN        Hello Doctor.  Nice to see you again.

DOCTOR   Dean, please sit down. Sit anywhere you like.  There’s a choice of chairs, but I do need to be able to see you, and talk.  As always, I shall be recording our conversation.  First of all, I think it would be helpful, if we review why we’re meeting today. OK? Yes? (Pause).  Right.  Dean, I started to see you some six months ago, when you were referred by your GP.  OK?  You’ve nodded, so I will assume that so far, we’re in agreement.  You presented as a lonely, isolated young man, who had difficulties in making relationships and friendships.  Yes?  Those that did occur, were primarily short-term and in respect of work and fellow employees (Pause) right?

DEAN        Yes Doctor.

DOCTOR   In other words, if your job ended, so did your friendships?

DEAN        Yes Doctor.  Although, I’ve got a new girl-friend.  We’ve only just met, so I’m taking things very slowly., like you said previously.  

DOCTOR   That’s helpful Dean and encouraging, but we need to look at why you lost your three most recent jobs.  Firstly; a food production unit, wasn’t it?

DEAN        Quality Controller.  On the hand-made Pasty line, local Company.

DOCTOR   Dean, in your first shift, you rejected around 90% of the products. The MD couldn’t believe it.  Operatives engaged on pasty hand crimping are primarily women.  Women, like men, have different size hands, fingers and crimping techniques, yes?

DEAN        I was looking for crimping consistency.  Thought it was important for the customer.

DOCTOR   Crimping consistency?

DEAN        Consistency in the crimping.  It is important for the appearance.

DOCTOR   Two shifts and you were sacked Dean.  Now, what about the Fish & Chip shop?  In one weekend you nearly made the owner bankrupt.  Queues down the street, fish portions getting cold, whilst you rifled through the chip tray, insisting that every chip should match.

DEAN        Looks nicer on the plate if they do.  Again, it’s about what’s best for the customer.  Isn’t it?

DOCTOR   I understand your stated motivation, thank you, Dean; now the petrol forecourt?  As the cashier, when customers paid for their petrol, did you think your comments were helpful.  I quote. “Pump number five?  Thirty pounds and three pence? Three pence.  Wahoo. Not much hand/eye co-ordination there, Madam.  No test pilot career for you. Eh?”  No wondershe complained and another job lost.

DEAN        It was a bit was insensitive.  But many customers use the pumps like a Video Game, trying to hit the exact moment when they’ve spent £30.  They get quite aggressive, and think the till operators are controlling the      pumps.  Just trying to encourage her for the next time.

DOCTOR   This aggravated your work situation, and reinforced your isolation and loneliness.  Agree?  You’re nodding Dean.  So far so good.  Two months ago, I asked you to do two things.  Firstly, try and find an interest, hobby or activity totally unrelated to work.  This would enable           you to actively explore new friendships and relationships, not directly affected by your apparent death wish in terms of employment.  Secondly, I asked you to keep a detailed diary or journal.

DEAN        I did the diary.  Gave it in.

DOCTOR   Dean, thank you for handing it in before our session today.  I’ve studied it with great interest however, can you explain why having suggested you find an activity, you appear to have taken on multiple experiences?  In a two-month period, 26 events!  Dean, on some days you were engaged in three different events, and all organised from A to Z.

DEAN        Could look like that I suppose.  Didn’t have a job, so wanted to keep busy and try your ideas out in full.  Was that wrong Doctor?

DOCTOR   Not wrong Dean.  Definitely not wrong!  Just different.  I’m trying to understand what you set out to achieve, as opposed to the actual outcome.  Now can we refer to your journal. Page 1 – A – Art for       Amateurs?’

DEAN        Found it on a local website.  Run by the Council.

DOCTOR   How many sessions?

DEAN        It was meant to run for eight weeks.

DOCTOR   What happened?

DEAN        Week two, I suddenly realised it was all about “life art”, proper models and all that.  Tutor said he thought some of my body drawings were “crude“.  I thought he meant like amateurish, but he meant rude.  I mean if      a naked man is sat in front of you, with his willy on display, and you’re asked to a detailed drawing, of some aspect of his        torso, what decision do you make?  I clearly got it wrong.  Chose the wrong bit.

DOCTOR   Did you deliberately give the model certain enhancements?

DEAN        Doctor that was meant to be a bit of a laugh.  Everyone was so serious.  Mind you, it wasn’t me with the lady.

DOCTOR   What lady, Dean?

DEAN        Week three.  She walks in, all calm and collected, in a silk gown, then drops it in front of all of us, and sits down in a pose.  Starkers.

DOCTOR   And?

DEAN        Someone at the back muttered “Look at that fattie.”  It wasn’t me, but I got the blame.  She walked off in a huff and I got chucked off the course.  Not fair.

DOCTOR   Well as you describe it, I must agree.  But what about B?  Bridge for beginners?

DEAN        I put my hand up for that.  Always wanted to understand more specialist card games.          Got in the room and found I had a partner and opponents.  Then all my childhood experiences and training kicked in.

DOCTOR   What do you mean?  Kicked in?

DEAN        Well until then, my total experience of cards, was when I played with my brother and sister at Xmas.  Sometimes Mum and Dad would join in.  We’d play Snap all day (Pause) constantly.  So, when I got into the Bridge game, as soon as anyone put down the same card, I went into auto mode and began to shout ‘Snap, Snap, Snap.’

DOCTOR   What happened?  What went wrong.

DEAN        They snapped; but at me.  I got ejected after only two games.

DOCTOR    Tell me about the Psychology Department at the University?

DEAN        Saw an advertisement in the local paper.  University, were paying £5.00, to people willing to help their Psychology students carry out behavioural studies, tests etc.  Sit down with the students, answer a few questions, let them analyse the responses and then go home with a fiver.  At the same time, a chance to make friends.  Easy-peasy.

DOCTOR   And?

DEAN        Two of the students immediately resigned from the course.  Said they hadn’t reckoned on dealing with “People like me” for the rest of their working lives.  Course tutor went daft.  Totally unfair and I still haven’t been paid.  Not my fault.  Was it?

DOCTOR   I’ll reserve judgement on that for the moment.  What about the prison?

DEAN        I read this report, which said that over 50% of homeless people, and especially those in prison, were illiterate in terms of English and Maths.  So, I joined a volunteer tutor group and ended up walking into Dartmoor Prison.

DOCTOR   Sounds very interesting and laudable Dean.  How did you get on?

DEAN        I was taken hostage!

DOCTOR   What!  I saw nothing in the media about it.  For how long?  What on earth happened?

DEAN        Long enough.  My organisation never even reported me missing. Seemed to think prison was the best place for me!  Some loyalty.  I was on my own in the kitchen washing up our mugs getting ready to go home when it happened.

DOCTOR   What?  What happened?

DEAN        This bloody great prisoner walked in and started acting funny towards me.

DOCTOR   Funny?

DEAN        Came up close like and then whispered in my ear “fresh meat”.  Didn’t know what he meant at first, but soon guessed. 

DOCTOR   How did you deal with it, it must have been quite frightening.

DEAN        Tried to make myself as obnoxious as possible to him.

DOCTOR   How?

DEAN        Kept farting like.  Making a smell.  Only I meant it, cos my bowels suddenly felt very stressed and anxious. 

DOCTOR   What did the prisoner do?

DEAN        Just laughed, then grabbed my arm and locked me in the food store.  Said he’d be back later “for his supper.”

DOCTOR   That must have been a dreadful experience.

DEAN        I felt really sorry for the Prison Officer, who nearly died, when he found me in a cupboard a little while later.  Jumped a couple of feet in the air.  My bowels still play up when I think about it.  Can’t help myself.

DOCTOR   Well let’s move on quickly, shall we. 

DEAN        Mind you, I really needed sanctuary shortly after that.

DOCTOR   Why?

DEAN        I’d joined this conservation group.  Lots of really nice, very committed ladies, all ages and sizes.  Felt quite at ease, until we had the saga of endangered species.  Went for an urgent briefing and was told that someone walking on Dartmoor that day had found “one, of only three” known species, of this particular plant. Everyone got excited, started jumping up and down, hugging each other and kissing. Didn’t mind that.  Even began to enjoy it and respond; then suddenly we all piled into vans and off we went to Dartmoor.

DOCTOR   What happened Dean?

DEAN        We spread out across the moors and were told to “seek and find.  I struck lucky           straight away, and after an hour, nearly fell over the plant.  I got back to the assembly point with it, looking for praise and found everyone really pissed off with me.

DOCTOR   Why?

DEAN        Apparently, there were now only two known species of this plant left alive, ‘cos I’d just killed number three.  They made me walk home.  Fifteen miles.  My feet were blistered.

DOCTOR   That’s sad.  Talking of death, how did your Landlord’s cat die?  This is listed under T for Taxidermy?

DEAN        Doctor, I genuinely don’t believe I killed it.  The course was interesting. I love nature and nurture and wondered if it would be possible, to retain the body and somehow the spirit of a deceased animal, thereby giving additional comfort to the owners.  I was simply holding the cat on my lap, stroking it, considering future options for it, when it became clear that the future was here and now.  It looked up at me with this funny expression, and then slowly curled up and went to sleep.  Forever.  I was shocked.

DOCTOR   What was the outcome?

DEAN        Landlord gave me notice.  Got to find somewhere else to live.  Not easy. That’s why I joined the Medieval Re-Enactment group.  Knew they had several local landlords amongst them and a good social club.  Lots of nice maidens. 

DOCTOR   Fascinating rationale Dean.  And?

DEAN        Got carried off the battlefield on my first encounter.

DOCTOR   I thought it was all carefully controlled?

DEAN        Well it is normally and basically it was my fault.

DOCTOR   Your fault?  Again?

DEAN        Properly this time. I was meant to be basic foot soldier; carried a heavy stick with a long chain.  On the end of it, there was a supposedspiked and dangerous ball.  During battle, I had to swing it around and strike objects and people.

DOCTOR   And?

DEAN        Well it quickly became clear to me, that the ball on the end was only made of rubber, and it wouldn’t swing properly.  It was like a black tennis ball with bits.

DOCTOR   So what did you do?

DEAN        Put a couple of lead inserts into it, so it swung better and harder.

DOCTOR   And?

DEAN        Got a bit carried away and hit Sir Guinevere, of the local LGTB group, and took him out.  Next thing I know, his official aide de camp and Protector, is charging at me with this damn great medieval sword.  Woke up in Derriford Hospital.  Apparently, Sir Guinevere was the biggest landlord in town, so that scuppered that idea.

DOCTOR   Dean, I’m exhausted.  Having read your journal, I need to take time out and reflect on options for future support.  I’m conscious that we’ve not covered your experiences in other activities such as Zulu dancing, Tibetan cooking, Classic French. The Evangelical Church experience also looks quite interesting, but that’s for another day, as will be your feedback on Sexual deviances throughout history.  Hadn’t realised the local Council were still running it.

DEAN        What have you done that one?  By the way, it’s not in the diary but I’ve just finished Xylophone or Xenophobia.  That was a hoot.

DOCTOR   (Hurriedly) I’ll see you in a month Dean.  Make an appointment with my Receptionist, Sarah, as you leave.

DEAN        What about my good news?

DOCTOR   Sorry?  What good news?

DEAN        Job Centre sent me to work on a local farm.  Picking.  Hard work.  Made my back ache like buggery but I establishedvery quickly that despite them all looking the same like, you know, daffodils and new potatoes. both have a mass of differences.  Did my head in.

DOCTOR   I have a sense of deja vu.  Can I presume you lost the job?

DEAN        I left.  My own choice.  However, there were some nice people working there; Polish mainly, so I did make some friends.  Even picked up bit of the lingo.  One of them put me onto another job option, with a Polish building company.

DOCTOR   Well that’s positive. Doing what?

DEAN        Electrician

DOCTOR   Dean I don’t remember you including that in your list of skills and experience?

DEAN        I decided to wing it.

DOCTOR   I don’t quite understand. I’m not familiar with that term.”wing it

DEAN        You know, you know.  Enhance my skills.

DOCTOR   Do you mean lie?

DEAN        Well some might call it that. But I really wanted to try, so yeah, I winged it.  Sort of.

DOCTOR   OK Dean. How did you get on?

DEAN        Only lasted a day.

DOCTOR   I’d be fascinated to know why?

DEAN        Well I’m colour blind ain’t I.

DOCTOR   I should have remembered.  So, you had problems identifying the negative and positive leads.

DEAN        Big time. Supervisor tested a piece of work, next thing there’s a bang and a flash, and I’m out the door.

DOCTOR   They sacked you?

DEAN        No. I ran.  He was a big bloke and he used another Polish word I’d learnt.

DOCTOR   What about tools?

DEAN        No that wasn’t what they called me.

DOCTOR   I meant what did you do about your tools.

DEAN        Nothing.  I just hoofed it.

DOCTOR   Hoofed it?  Isn’t that some form of dance?

DEAN        I ran fast.  Then I really landed on my feet.  (Excitedly) I’ve been offered a job, and it’s a dream.  But it’s happened!  My sister Mandy rang me.  Her car had broken down, she needed me to collect her daughter Vickie from the Nursery. 

DOCTOR   What happened?  Why are you so clearly excited?

DEAN        Shot round there.  Found out I had masses of time on my hands, so the staff let me join in their games with the kids.  Apparently quite a lot of kids have never known a male person in their lives.

DOCTOR   And?

DEAN        Well it was weird.  It was as if the kids knew I had my own issues, but they weren’t bothered.  Kept coming up to me with things to do.  Ended up reading to them, some even sat on my lap.  Mind you as in all things, there had to be a clever-clogs.

DOCTOR   I think I’m generally getting the gist.

DEAN        Well Doctor, as you know, despite being a prison tutor, I can hardly read myself, so when this little boy came up to me with a book, I decided once again to “wing it”.

DOCTOR   Like you did with the Electrician’s?

DEAN        Yeah, but in this case, all I did was make up a story, rather than what was in the           book.  Most of the kids seemed to enjoy it, however, the little clever lad who gave it to me, could clearly read better than me.  He realised I was reading porkies.

DOCTOR   What did he do?

DEAN        Nothing.  He just looked at me in a special way. I knew, he knew, and he knew I knew he knew but he didn’t say anything.  I finally realised what I wanted to do.  No matter what!  As long as the kids needed me, I needed them more, and we had a bargain.  Anyway, the Supervisor thought I had potential, especially as a male figure.  Offered me a job.  Start in a couple of weeks.

DOCTOR   Dean, I feel a little emotional.  My assessment of your behaviour over these past months, is that you are showing classic O.C.D. symptoms.  Obsessive, definitely compulsive and creating disorder.  Despite all that, you are a thoroughly nice lad.  Now all we have to do is find you a girl-friend, and your life will be complete.

DEAN        What do you mean?  I’ve got one.  I told yah.  Early days, but looks promising and already I know I love her to bits, and I’m getting the feeling she feels the same way.  Who knows?  A few more dates, and I might be asking her a serious question.

DOCTOR   What sort of question?

DEAN        Whether she wants to continue being your receptionist!!  It’s Sarah. Whilst I’ve been sitting in the waiting room all these months, we’ve had lots of chats and things.

DOCTOR   Are you aware she’s my daughter?

DEAN        Sorry, Doctor before I answer that, I haven’t explained how I got mixed up between Xylophone and Xenophobia yet.  Nearly cost me a hammering, when I met all these skinheads by mistake. 

DOCTOR   I suggest you keep that one in your memory box.  It would make a nice opening at a wedding reception speech.

DEAN        Are you serious?  I’d like that, if it’s OK with you?  Father-in-Law.  Sounds nice.

END OF PLAY – OCD & ME.

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