We carpool in two cars to the therapy complex, Sam, Sarah, Jenny, and Leslie in Leslie's car and Lorelei, Stephanie, Elise, Julia and I in Elise's car. Elise has a very particular driving style, which I have witnessed on few occasions, all of which I am grateful I survived. Elise is ADHD, so she often gets distracted behind the wheel. She'll either have the radio on or her one working iPod ear bud in her ear. She'll listen to anything but NPR, and that is a lost cause. Unlike Sarah, she obeys the speed limit but curses at cars, which I've always found an odd habit in people. Shouldn't we be cursing the drivers? Anyway, I'm not much one for swear words, as my friends can attest, and I often use Shakespeare insults such as, "Dog breath," and one from my own imagination, "You make an owl seem smart!" Because, you know, owls are dumb.
I've been told that those have little effect on people, but it does make people feel awkward.
It's a talent I possess.
Elise veers onto the highway, nearly running into the back of Leslie's car. Leslie almost hit a bicyclist, although to be honest, it was the biker's fault. Leslie has adopted Sarah's style of sudden stops, so every so often; we would stop, straining against our seatbelts so as to not cause a major traffic accident. Thankfully, Leslie had not adopted Sarah's style of speed. To Sarah, the speed limit was nothing but a general suggestion. The other drivers were not very happy with us. Sarah was not doing anything to help the matter, as whenever she received the middle finger from an angry driver or passenger, she would proudly give them the middle finger back. This was a small scale problem until every car on the road had at least one hand out the window, happily giving the middle finger to whomever. College-age drivers all the way to little old ladies, they were all all too happy to join in on the unplanned event.
Part of me wondered whether this was planned, but I pushed it out of my mind.
"Did Sarah start this?" Sam asks.
"Well, she didn't help the matter." Was Elise's response.
"Shocker." Stephanie mutters.
As if the situation could get worse than hundreds of people holding up their middle fingers, a TV helicopter from news channel 5 was covering traffic, and it was hovering directly above the Sea of Fingers.
I could just hear what the reporter was saying.
Reporter: "Well, Jim, there appears to be a situation in which all the people in the cars are giving each other the middle finger."
Anchor: "Um…we'll get back to you. Now, for all you Cardinals fans a very special story involving Redbird and a lost dog."
Around ten minutes after the Sea of Fingers incident, we arrive at the therapy complex. Once we're out of our cars, I start speaking.
"Why were you giving cars the middle finger?" I demand.
"They gave me it first, Mary." Sarah responds.
"Still, you can't do that!" Elise replies.
"Am I an American?" Sarah inquires.
"Sarah this does not apply to your rights." Elise says, exasperated.
"Actually, you are wrong. As an American Citizen, I have the freedom to give the middle finger to whomever I wish." Sarah says with finality.
It's no use arguing with her.
It never is.
We walk, as we always do, in one big cluster. Once we open the doors, the precious air-conditioning hits us at full blast, which at first feels wonderful but then makes us shiver.
"Hello, um, we're here to see Dr. Kimura." Elise said.
"You're the group therapy?" The receptionist, a large Asian woman asked.
"Yes." Leslie said.
"Okay, his office is on the fourth floor."
"Thank you." Sarah said and we walked towards the bank of elevators.
Leslie pressed the up button and waited.
We waited some more.
Five minutes later we ended up taking the stairs.
Four flights of stairs later, we're presented with a long and narrow hallway. Lorelei leads the way, and suddenly we're at a door with a sign that says, "Dr. Kimura's Group Therapy." The door is automatic, and we sit down in chairs once inside. We wait for five minutes until a burly redhead pokes his head into the waiting room. We're the only ones waiting, and he glances at his clipboard.
"I'm presuming you're the six thirty group?" Dr. Kimura says in a rich a baritone.
We nod like a bunch of bobble heads.
"Come on in." He says, and we follow him into a moderately sized office. There are brightly colored molded plastic elementary school chairs in a circle. Behind the circle of chairs is a bookcase; to the left of the bookcase is a desk that is blocked by an island. A shelf of games sits on the bookcase. There are framed pictures dotting the wall. Dr. Kimura sits down on one of the colorful chairs and we follow his lead, choosing what color chairs we want. Once seated, Dr. Kimura speaks.
"Let's go around and introduce ourselves, then we'll begin by taking a diagnostic test. After the test, we'll play a game called "What Would You Do?" I'll explain the rest after we finish the game." Dr. Kimura booms.
"Is the test graded?" Stephanie asks.
"No, it's just an instrument for me to determine if you have any conditions that will prevent you from going on the trip. I have your medical records here," He says, gesturing to a filing box filled with, presumably, our medical records, "this is just a test for me to get to know you better."
"Oh." Stephanie says.
"Well, let's get started." Dr. Kimura says and he passes out a packet, pencils, and dividers so we don't cheat.
"You may begin." Dr. Kimura says, and we open our test booklets, wondering whether or not this will be the deciding factor in our road trip. Just in case my friends are secretly psychic, I send out a psychic message. Don't mention killing people, just answer the questions asked. I think.
"May the odds be ever in your favor." Lorelei says in a high voice, apparently supposed to resemble Effie Trinket.
I mentally face palm myself and start the test.
Question One: Have you had any thoughts of suicide or self harm in the past six months? Circle the correct answer. None. One to two times. Three to four times. Five to ten times. Ten or more times.
The sound of pencils circling fills the room as we fill out the first page, then the sound of pages rustling as we turn to the next page.
Question Twelve: Read this scenario and then answer what your response would be in the blank below. A predator puts his hands on your shoulder and moves to harm you.
I can only imagine my friend's responses are. I shudder at the thought, and write my answer in my hurried scrawl.
Question Twenty Four: What is your response, fight or flight, when provoked?
Fifteen minutes later, I close my test packet, exhausted, and wait for everyone to finish up.
"Is everyone finished?" Dr. Kimura asks sometime later.
"Yeah." We chorus.
"Good, good." And Dr. Kimura collects our tests, pencils, and dividers.
"While I look at these, you can have a bathroom break. The bathroom is past the waiting room, down that hall, to the left, up one flight of stairs, to the right, and it's the fourth door on your left." He says.
We leave, trying to remember the directions.
"What did he say, past the waiting room, down that hall, to the right?" Lorelei asks.
"Yeah, I think so." Sarah says and we turn to the right. This hall is longer than the previous one, and we walk it, talking aimlessly.
We go up the stairs, to the right, and find the fourth door on our left. It's marked 'STORAGE.' We push it open, and what we see is not a bathroom. The storage room is stuffy, and it feels like we're suffocating.
"I think we took a wrong turn somewhere." Elise says.
"No shit, Sherlock." Leslie says and we take a right, walk down the flight of stairs, go to the left, up another staircase, turn right, and push open the fourth door on our left.
This one is a bathroom, and after we're finished, we head back to the office, managing not to get lost.