OLYMPIA — We now join Washington state’s latest session on the psychologist’s couch, already in progress.
Dr. Civitas: It’s been awhile since you were last in. Why so long?
Washington: Couldn’t afford the co-pay.
Dr. C: Who can? So, how have you been doing?
Dr. C: That sounds like an improvement. I’ve been reviewing my notes, and the last time you were here you were feeling quite depressed.
Washington: That’s right. My economists told me it wasn’t officially depression, though. Apparently I was just recessed, greatly so.
Dr. C: Let’s not get too hung up by semantics. Either way you were feeling quite down, and as I recall, you were hoping a large dose of stimulants would help.
Washington: Yeah, Dr. Obama set me up with some pretty good stuff. But the effects didn’t last. Then, when I wanted a stronger dose, he cut me off.
Dr. C: Withdrawal can be difficult, but it leaves you stronger in the end. You also had been displaying a tendency toward mood swings. You were either on top of the world or deeply depressed. And when you were up, you would think you’d always be up. So how do you feel now?
Washington: As I said, doc, so-so. I’m better than I was, for sure. But I just can’t get any momentum. I kinda miss my mood swings. At least they offered variety.
Dr. C: Equilibrium is good as well.
Washington: So I’ve heard. But remember those boom times when my houses were doubling in value, my dot-coms were sky-high whether they produced anything or not, when my Boeing and Microsoft could do no wrong?
Dr. C: Yes. And I remember how it led you toward irrational exuberance – overeating and overdrinking and especially overspending.
Washington: Ahh, yes. The good old days.
Dr. C: Yes, they were. Remember WAMU?
Washington: You sound like my economists. Remind me not to invite any of you to my next all-nighter.
Dr. C: I don’t socialize with patients. Anyway, you did hit bottom, again, but now there’s been some improvement, right?
Washington: That’s what the numbers say, but it is so slow I barely notice. And it is still up and down. My accounts look healthier and then my airplanes catch on fire. Unemployment drops and then my freeway bridges collapse. Every piece of good news is followed by bad. I’m starting to feel paranoid.
Dr. C: Starting? And how is your family doing?
Washington: Lots of fighting. Lots of finger-pointing. Overall dysfunction. You know, normal.
Dr. C: Talk to me about that.
Washington: My Republicans say I’m not doing enough for business. My Democrats say I’m not doing enough for people who need help. My court says I’m not doing enough for schoolkids.
Dr. C: And what do you tell them?
Washington: Enough! I’m not made of money, you know. My accounts have so many loopholes I leave a trail of dimes wherever I walk.
Dr. C: Did you tell them that?
Dr. C: And what happened?
Washington: They threatened to shut me down.
Dr. C: There still seems to be a lot of hostility. And how is your drinking?
Washington: It has leveled off since I privatized liquor.
Dr. C: That’s a good sign.
Washington: So now I just smoke legal pot.
Dr. C: Self-medication is never advisable.
Washington: Blame Dr. Obama.
Dr. C: Well, our 50 minutes is up. Hopefully you won’t wait three years for your next appointment.
Washington: And hopefully that check for my co-pay clears.
Peter Callaghan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.