Reprinted from October 1992
Lucy Peters, veteran watchmaker’s wife, steps off the elevator on the ninth floor of a downtown office building. It is obvious she has a problem because she constantly dabs her eyes, which are quite bloodshot and swollen. She makes her way into an office which reads: Dr. I. M. Hyer, Psychoanalyst.
“I’m Lucy Peters,” she sniffs to the receptionist. “I have an appointment with the doctor.” Sniff, sniff.
“Yes indeed, Mrs. Peters, step right on in. The doctor is waiting,” the receptionist said, motioning toward the inner office.
Still dabbing her eyes, Lucy makes her way into the doctor’s chamber. Dr. Hyer indicated she should be seated.
“What’s troubling you, Mrs. Peters?” he inquires as he prepares to take notes.
“Well,” she sobs through unrestrained tears, “it’s my husband, Wilber…”
“Oh? Please continue…”
“I’ll try. You see, I haven’t seen him for a week!”
“Ah! Another woman!” Dr. Hyer virtually shouts.
“No! No! No!” Lucy shakes her head ferociously. “I’m sure that isn’t it, we get along so well…”
“Well, perhaps so…” the doctor grudgingly agrees. “Do continue.”
“We were such a happy couple,” Lucy sighs. “Last Monday we both went to work as usual. Wilber sat down at his bench to work on the watches as he always does. Then a customer came in…”
“A woman customer?” the doctor interrupts, eagerly rubbing his hands together.
“Why no, doctor, it was a man.”
“Oh! A man… uh huh… I see…” He jots down a few more notes.
“The man had a watch he wanted repaired and all he wanted was a crown. Wilber took the watch and examined it very carefully. He told the customer it was quite dirty and should be cleaned. The man insisted on just having a crown, so Wilber wrote out a ticket for three dollars and the fellow went on his way. He was out the door and gone before it dawned on poor Wilber that the crown was for a female stem and should have been more money…”
The doctor snaps his fingers excitedly. “A female?” His eyes bulge and his brows arch in utter disbelief.
“Yes, doctor, a female stem.”
“I see…” He busily jots down more information.
“Well, when Wilber finally got a male post and a crown fitted to the watch…”
“A male post?”
“Yes, doctor, a male post.”
“When Wilbur finally got the male post and stem fitted to the watch and wound it up, he discovered it wouldn’t run….”
“I see, Mrs. Peters. Let me interrupt you for a brief moment here and ask you a very personal question. Is Wilber a virile male?”
“Why yes, I suppose so. What a funny question…why do you ask?”
“Oh nothing… do go on with your story.” He scribbles something on his pad.
“Well, Wilbur decided to remove the balance and spin the train, just to get the watch started again. He lifted the balance and took out the fork. He was careful to place both pieces carefully on his bench. Then he blew out the train as it spun.”
“H-m-m-m,” the doctor said. “Does your husband like trains, Mrs. Peters?”
“Trains? No, well, anyway, in the process of doing these things he accidently brushed off the entire balance and it landed on the floor in a tangled mess…”
Her voice cracked with emotion. “Then he rolled back his chair and he, he…” Her voice trails off, and she turns away.
“Take your time, Mrs. Peters,” Dr. Hyer prompts softly.
“Well he put his right foot on it and ruined the whole thing.”
Dr. Hyer is obviously unsympathetic to the consequences. “H-m-m-m. His foot you say.”
He taps his pencil, contemplating her words.
“Do you know if Mr. Peters ever suffered from a foot fetish?” he inquires.
“A what?” Lucy answers still dabbing her eyes.
“We’ll discuss this later. Please go on.”
“Well doctor that is about it. Wilber turned beet red and stalked out. I haven’t seen him since.” She breaks out in sobs again. “I want my Wilbur back.”
“Now, Mrs. Peters, I don’t think it’s all that serious. As I see it, your husband is suffering from some kind of latent sexual urge.”
“Sexual urge!” demands Lucy in marked disbelief. “How on earth did you come up with that conclusion?”
“Well, Mrs. Peters, practically every other word you’ve uttered since you sat down here was related in some way to sex. As you know, everything stems from a desire for sex or a desire for recognition. This isn’t something to be ashamed of… it is quite common, in fact.”
Lucy stares at him in disbelief. “Everything stems from a desire for sex or a desire for recognition?” She repeats as if in a trance.
“Good heavens doctor, what has that got to do with Wilbur getting mad at a watch and storming out? Sex related? I had no idea…”
“Well, when Wilbur gets it out of his system, he’ll be back. Just think this out for yourself, Mrs. Peters. Even you can see that his anger over this problem was uncalled for and rash. A grown man simply wouldn’t have let himself get that carried away over such a small incident – unless there was an underlying factor that had been overlooked. Don’t you agree?”
“Well, I suppose so,” stammers Lucy.
“All right, Mrs. Peters, you can pay the receptionist, and if you need any further assistance, do call on me.”
“I’ve got to find a way to get that job ready for that man,” Lucy mutters under her breath.
“What’s that about a man?” Dr. Hyer questions, leaning forward interestedly.
Lucy leaps for the door.
“No way you’re going to make a sex maniac out of me!” she shouts. “And from now on, I’m taking my problems to the watchmaker’s grievance committee!”