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Dysfunctional Desire
by Gil A. Waters

At the time, it seemed like the ideal moment to make my move.

It's not every day I find myself engaged in rapt conversation with a beautiful woman fifteen years younger than myself; her eyes fixed on mine with an intensity suggesting more than a passing interest.

Smoothly, coolly, nonchalantly, I said, "We should get together sometime. Like, go somewhere. Or something."

Perhaps my wooing abilities had grown a bit rusty. But I hoped the sincerity of my offer would convey an endearing sense of innocence.

A bitter smile broke across her face. She shook her head in a manner that unequivocally said "no" and redirected her gaze downwards to the gray surface of the metal table at which we sat.

I felt crushed by this perceived rejection, but it stung for only a moment.

Suddenly, her head bolted upward and she again looked into my eyes, only this time with terror.

"Did you hear that?" she asked in a breathless whisper.

"Did you hear that?!" she asked again, a little louder, not waiting for my first negative reply.

"Uh, no," I said.

"Shit!" she responded as she jumped up and power-walked to the nurses' station, her hospital gown fluttering excitedly behind her.

I leaned back in my chair and sighed.

Fucking manic depressives, I thought to myself. They're coming, they're going. They're hot, they're cold. They're listening to you one minute, they're hearing voices the next.   It's tiring.

Yet I couldn't be too angry at her for letting auditory hallucinations disrupt my flirtations. To be honest, I wasn't in top form myself. It's not easy to be suave when you're detoxing, especially when your psychotropic cocktail of Librium, Seroquel, and Abilify causes you to walk into walls and fall down. I suppose my random bouts of crying weren't very sexy either, although I hoped they would be a turn on for the female residents of The Ward, who might appreciate a sensitive man not afraid to express his emotional vulnerability. Apparently, I was mistaken.

Eventually, I did manage to snag one date with an attractive older woman who, I thought, was just an old-fashioned, meat-and-potatoes depressive like me. In solidarity with her depression, and because she had two of the most amazing breasts I'd ever seen, I was willing to overlook the fact that she'd completely removed her real eyebrows and penciled in a couple of abstract-looking replacements.

We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant about a week after being discharged. Despite some initially pleasant and flirtatiously promising banter, it soon became clear that neither my lust nor sense of psychiatric camaraderie could compensate for her more peculiar behavioral peccadilloes. The hysterical laughter at random moments, for instance. Or the obsessive-compulsive disorder that compelled her, once we'd finished eating, to stack our dirty plates, one atop the other, each separated from the next by a paper napkin that she unfolded and smoothed with her fingertips.

I have now learned my lesson. No matter how much I may have in common with women who qualify as poster children for each and every dysfunction listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, they are terrible dates. Maybe I'll have better luck in rehab. There are some really hot junkies in my out-patient program...