Mount Misery
Mount Misery
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  • ISBN-13: 9780517288344
  • ISBN: 0517288346
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing



1 WASPs, I'd discovered in my month of being a shrink, are notoriously hard to read. Their body language borders on mute, and their language itself is oblique, like those masters of obliqueness the English who, I had learned in my three years at Oxford, when they say "Yes, actually" mean "No," and when they say "No, actually," may mean anything. Now, try as I might, coming at him from various different interviewing angles, much as my father the dentist would come at a recalcitrant tooth, Cherokee Putnam remained a mystery. It was six-thirty in the morning. I was bone-tired, having been on call at the hospital all night long. Cherokee had appeared at the admissions unit without calling in advance, and had paged the Doctor on Callme. He said he wasn't at all sure he needed admission, but he hadn't been able to sleep and had to talk to someone "about a delicate matter," in confidence. The closest I had come to reading any feeling in him was when he told me how, at a dinner party at home recently, he'd gotten so furious at his wife Lily that he'd actually done the unheard of: picked up his linen napkin and thrown it down onto the tablecloth beside his plate. To my probings, he denied that he was depressed. He denied suicide attempts, suicide gestures, suicidal ideation, and showed no signs of being crazy. He seemed like just the kind of guy the word "normal" was made for. He looked normal enough. He was my agethirty-twomy height and buildsix-three and slightly fallen from slender. But while I was a lapsed Jew, he was a cornered WASP, in buttoned-down pink shirt and pressed khaki pants, with an excellent blade nose and blue eyes, a charming mole on one boyish cheek, and strawberry-blond hair combed back and parted off center. Tan and handsome, he looked like the young Robert Redford. He was rich, the father of two young girlsHope and Kissyand he admitted sheepishly to being a lawyer. A Yale graduate, he'd made a small fortune working for Disney in California, before coming back to his roots in New England eighteen months before. "But you kill yourself at Disney," he said. "There's a saying out there, 'If you don't come in on Saturday, don't bother to come in on Sunday.' " His wife Lily was also from New England. He'd spent "a million two" to buy a foothill and a horse farm nearby. He and his wife were into horses, she into show-jumping, he into polo. After a year of leisure he was now trying to figure out what to do next with his life. "Is that what's troubling you?" I asked. "No, no, not at all," he said, "but once in a while I wake up at three in the morning comparing myself to other people, successful people. I turn to my wife and say, 'I'm a failure.' That used to get her right up, but now she's so used to it she barely wakes up. She just murmurs, 'Take a Halcyon and go back to sleep.' Lily's heard it too many times." "So there are problems in the marriage?" "Oh no, no. Things are fine, actually. The normal disagreements, mostly around her being so neat, and me, well, y'see how neat I seem?" "Very nice, um hm." "Very. But in private I'm pretty messy. Nothing big, just socks on the floor, nothing hung up. She's very neat. We had a big tiff last week, when the help was offI emptied the dishwasher and just threw the silverware into the drawer. Lily nests tShem, Samuel is the author of 'Mount Misery' with ISBN 9780517288344 and ISBN 0517288346.

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