I wrote up a lengthy analysis of psychiatry as a philosophy on Friday, but I was using a computer on the unit, and the computer ate it; I think it may have been intentional.So instead, I’ll just tell you what happened when my mother sent me to the store on Saturday. She gave me a list, and coupons, and sent my nine-year-old sister along to help me find things. First off, the produce section. Every time I walk through here (every other month or so!) I notice the leeks, which somehow are attached to a very warm childhood memory. When I was studying for boards, I bought some leeks, intending to make soup, but didn’t have the time or energy, so they ended up rotting in the refrigerator, for my mother to throw away when she got back. This time, I determined, we would really have leek soup. So I bought six leeks; and onions, and potatoes. Also one red pepper.

Of course, Mommy takes one look at the leeks, and observes mildly that they are not exactly fresh; and that it only takes three leeks to make a very adequate quantity of soup; and that Daddy hates leek soup. She looks at the pepper, and inquires why, if one pays per piece, I felt obliged to pick up the smallest one ever? I tell her, she asked for it, so price was no object.

The lettuce and carrots are pretty hard to make mistakes with. We move on to the meat. I was told to buy chicken. So I bring back four packages of drumsticks, all that’s left of the brand we like. Yes, but apparently our parents don’t like drumsticks; so I should have stuck to two. Tomato sauce? I managed to get all the wrong kinds and sizes. Baked beans? My little sister insisted that she likes baked beans, and we needed to buy three cans; without noticing the outrageously high salt content. Canned soup? Apparently I managed to pick the four kinds my mother dislikes, and avoid all three of the kinds she does like, again without regard to salt content.

We did manage to get the correct brand of vanilla, after walking through the aisle three times looking for it. Molasses, for gingerbread cookies, we forgot till we were driving out of the parking lot, and had to come back, and couldn’t find it, and asked a nice clerk, who pointed it out to us on the shelf right there in front of us.

So when we got home I got a 15-minute lesson in home economics. And I haven’t even told her yet about my little sister’s bid for popsicles, which resulted in buying two large boxes of popsicles, which “Mommy has bought this kind before!” And come to find out, half the box is still in our freezer. So now we have two and a half boxes of popsicles, which nobody but the youngest child eats anymore.

If it makes you feel any safer about my patients, I’ve gotten to the point of dreaming about them, and having nightmares about forgetting to ask a vital question, and staying awake at night worrying about something I forgot to write down in the chart.

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