From the original article on June 18, 2012, by The Last Psychiatrist.
the most crucial thing to understand is that the arrow drawn above is exactly 180 degrees off course
On the Opie & Anthony radio show, comic Amy Schumer told a sexy story.
She was 18, and was out with friends in NYC wearing "a miniskirt and a tube top-- my uniform back then." At the end of the night they pile into a cab. Amy sits in the front.
The cab driver was "gross, like the cab driver on MTV." "This was back when I used to do dangerous things, sexually," and littered throughout the story were exasperated sighs, like, "I can't believe I did those things." I sympathize, believe me I do.
So what does a drunk 18 year old coed do in the front seat of a cab that's worth sharing on the radio? She extends her leg over towards the cabbie...
At this point I should tell you that the title of this Opie & Anthony segment is "Amy Schumer Gets Fingered In A Cab" so of course I already know what's going to happen, which is why I'm parked behind a church. But this surprises me nonetheless:
GUY: So you let the cab driver touch your vagina?
AMY: No-- I took his hand and made him touch my vagina.
That's right, she didn't let this all happen, she made it all happen, on purpose. She wanted to get fingered by this filthy, ugly, dangerous cab driver.
So while her drunk friends are passed out in the back, she's riding his "disgusting finger" towards an orgasm and trying not to moan too loudly. 10 or so blocks later she climaxes, immediately feels horrified by herself, gets out of the cab, pays, and runs into her apartment.
At the end of this story, everyone, including Amy, started to play the popular game Why Would She Do That?-- was she molested as a child, was it self-punishment? But according to the Textbook Of Psychoanalysis, every event in your life is reprocessed as a story, and every story has five Acts. Acts II- IV are the rising action, climax, and falling action; Act V is the denouement: what was the result of all this? Taking this literally, Amy's orgasm is Act III. Getting out of the cab and feeling disgusted is Act IV. What's missing from her story is Act V. So if you're brave enough we're going to play a different game, a game with real winners and real losers, and that game is Guess What Happens Next.
There's a criticism among male comics about female comics, that they only have to look good in a skirt and talk about blowjobs and they can get away with not being funny, and I want to be clear that when comics make this criticism they are talking about Amy Poehler, not Amy Schumer. Amy Schumer is very funny and very quick. The funniest thing about Amy Poehler is nothing.
But why is there even a market for sexy but unfunny female comics? The answer is that it's hot to hear a sexy girl talk openly about sex, and the only safe way a woman can talk openly about sex is..... as a joke, as parody.
If you heard this as a feminist criticism you have missed 50% of the fun: men can't safely hear about sex from a woman except as a joke, or else they are labeled as perverts by women, who are still unsure of their (sexual) place in this free for all we call Nowadays. "I want to tell you about last night but I don't want you to judge me or appear interested." Huh? Nowadays can be exhausting, but they were also inevitable.
In America, everything is a commodity, everything has a price. So when post-gold standard capitalism gets access to everything except the secret desires of women, it will necessarily create a mechanism to get them, too, i.e. some media to take the bullet as pervert so women can be free to talk in exchange for men quietly listening in. It took a decade but the system worked: Howard Stern was the inevitable synthesis of feminism and Reaganomics, which is a sentence you will never read anywhere else.
Which is why as Amy is describing putting the cabbie's hand on her vagina, this happens:
DAN: So, were you... prepared to receive him?
AMY: What do you mean?
DAN: I mean.... were all systems a go?
AMY: You mean was I wet? How wet do you have to be to slide a finger in?
Thing is, this is satellite radio, Dan can be as vulgar and explicit as he wants, no FCC. And he knows this, he works there. You could say it's a hold over from the broadcast radio days, except Dan was never in broadcast radio, which means one of two things happened, both of which are the same: 1. He was reflexively imitating the style and language he learned was allowable for sexy talk with female strangers, e.g. FM radio Howard Stern; 2. his own mind had used a distancing language-- sound like someone else-- so as not to appear to be the pervy guy wanting to know if her box was wet enough to penetrate. Feminists, note carefully that the female is allowed to be graphic, but the males in the room still feel they have to censor themselves around her. Where do you think that censorship is coming from? Amy?
There is a group of you who will read this and feel enraged by a double standard, in front of men women get to be sexy, talk about sex, flaunt it, but men can't introduce the topic, can't ask questions, can't pursue-- can't even look-- because then they're labeled as predators. If you're in this group you don't get it. The censorship doesn't come from women, it comes from you. If you feel like you can't ask her about her sex because you'll sound like a repressed stalker, you are, in fact, a repressed stalker. You're not going to kill her, ok, fair enough, but you aren't going to leave her alone, ever. If Trina rolls bleary eyed into the cubicle and says, "wow, I got totally plowed by this guy last night" not only are you not going to get any coding done that day, but you will make it impossible for her to ever get any coding done or keep her cell number because of your subtle pushes for more stories and passive aggressive inquiries about her relationship status and near constant innuendo. "Cubicles. Blech. You know what job I'd be good at? Riding a backhoe."
So, radio fans, if you hear a woman tell you she got fingered in a cab, you're being offered a chance to see inside your soul: what do you think next?
If you think, "I sooooooo want to come on her tits," you're normal. Also a pig, but a normal, 21st century pig. Sigh. We've been trained to be aroused by imitation. "Well, men are visual creatures." Let me guess, you heard that on TV, big surprise. Your deepest desires come out of a box, against your nature. Tell me, which is more arousing: watching a porno with the sound off, or listening to a porno without the video? Yeah. I love staying in hotels, too.
Men aren't visual, they are trained. Back when men were the labor force TV told them to be visual so they could buy some crap, but when women started taking over the labor pool they told women to be visual, too, or did genetics suddenly decide male chest hair was out starting exactly 1989, the year the Dumbest Generation Of Narcissists In The History Of The World graduated college? People don't think visually, the system has trained them to think visually. Most of the world uses computers for words, right? Yet it seems never to occur to anyone to do what is the most obvious thing in the world, ever:
Duh. But now that I've told you you still won't do it, the infrastructure is against you. So even though the world is coded in 8.5:11 it is experienced in 9:4, and the system facilitates the sheeping, not the shepherding. You want to change that? Good luck, you're not cool enough to have a following and the moment it occurred to Steve Jobs his pancreas was detonated.
Back to Amy: so normal= "come on her tits"; abnormal, unhealthy but sadly the norm Nowadays would be to turn Naughty Amy's Barely Legal Ride Along into something masochistic and think: why not me? Why does this slut allow herself to get fingered by some ugly cab driver yet I can't even ask about it? Which is the answer to your own question. You are operating from a position of self-loathing which you then project as a judgment onto everyone else, and she can sense it. And you can sense it, which is why you self-censor. See? You're not all bad.
That women can't talk as openly about sex is really a subset of a larger difference, which is that while both are allowed to do anything they want, only a man can identify with it. Women must distance themselves from it, more or less depending on situation. When a man has sex it is a reflection of who he is; for women it has to be something that happened.
Say you're lucky enough to have the most wonderful of all experiences, the menage a trois. Right on. "Umm, dude, I've had threesomes and they're not that great. They're actually pretty awkward." Um, dude, you're not doing them right, they have to be sisters. So afterwards the guy will tell... everybody. And for the rest of his life. Any future girlfriend will hear about it within the first month of dating: Things That Make Me Cool. The woman may tell her friends, but she's not going to tell guy friends, and certainly not bring it up to potential boyfriends, and it sure as hell never reflects on her character. "It happened, but it's not who I am."
The thing is, in any MFF, there are three people who could be telling you the story, yet the narrator is always a penis. He had a threesome, the supporting cast say they "were in a threesome once." Assuming you live in a town where X number of threesomes happen every year and there's no repeats, then there are twice as many women with a history of menages than men. Yet despite being the majority, it's the man's story to own and the woman's to disavow.
You could play it the other way and say, well, some women do repeat, but then in that case those individual women have had more threesome than guys, more experience with them, but they're still not allowed to own it, and if they do it's still at a distance: "I don't know, it just kind of happened." The only time you'll hear a guy says those words is if you're his girlfriend and he just cheated or you're the police and he's holding a head, and that's not a joke but a description of the motivator: shame.
But the point isn't simply that women do it but disavow it. I just told you a fact which, as a man, you must disavow yourself in order to continue dating. In order to see the world as ordered, you have to pretend that very few women as compared to men have had threesomes.
There are, of course, an unusual few women who "own" it, talk freely about their sex without shame, but unless they are comics they run the risk of inviting stalkers and anyways, no matter how much they are otherwise liked or respected, people will still whisper quietly to each other: "what happened to her in her life that made her do these things?" Sexy women, you have a choice: you're either a slut, or broken.
Someone in the studio suggested that Amy's behavior was the result of childhood molestation. Jim Norton, a comic, explained it as "self-punishment." Jim's perspective is unique because he is a recovering alcoholic and a current sex-addict, frequently detailing his relations with hookers, transsexuals, etc. He would know, right?
The problem with this kind of backwards analysis is that it tries to universalize a behavior into its cause. But the fact is that people get fingered by ugly men in cabs for all kinds of reasons, including they just like it. Last Tango In Paris was about a beautiful young woman who was inexplicably drawn to a billy goat. It happens. No, you're thinking of Streetcar Brando. This is 1972 Godfather Brando.
"Aww, older men can be sexy." I guess, if you're even older than them.
Modern and pop psychology spend a lot of time taking a behavior and tracing it back to a single source-- genetics, trauma, whatever-- but there's no money there, the money is in the meaning, what they do with it. So Norton's an addict. Do you want to know how he got that way or what he does with it?
Before, the experience of addiction was entirely subjective, is it messing up your life? Now, it's been objectified, the subject's relationship with the drug is is no longer relevant, it is the fact of the drug that is relevant. The obvious example of this sleight of hand is that there's alcohol use and alcohol abuse, but there's no such category as cocaine use, even though the vast majority of its ingestion has nothing to do with addiction. The reinforcement is from the outside to comply with this idiocy: say you party down one weekend, then a random drug test at work, oops! So two things can happen, Guess What Happens Next: you could tell the truth that the coke was on her ass and how could you not? doesn't make you a bad person; or pretend/admit you're an addict and agree to go to rehab. So it's unanimous? You keep your job at McDonalds and the system gets another data point confirming it is right. I hope the parallel between this and anything written by Solzhenitsyn is immediately obvious, if not, read anything by Solzhenitsyn. The Matrix doesn't need you, but it will offer you a free pass if you help get the other batteries in line.
Note that when scienticians talk about, say, the increase in alcoholism, they never go back before WWII, otherwise they'd have to label most ancient Greeks, all Vikings and everyone in colonial America as alcoholics. "Well," they'll explain, "it wasn't until then we started rigorously treating people as data points." While I'll accept that an amount of alcohol does the same damage to your innards regardless of what kingdom you're born in, there's something sneaky about the current kingdom getting to be the sole judge of what is addiction and what isn't, but we rarely complain unless the addiction is the internet and the kingdom is China; and the reason we don't complain is that the system has cleverly made it very easy for us to abuse it selfishly when we want to, which was the plan all along. But it doesn't make it right. Sorry, wildman, you can't judge a person based on two generations of observation of a single culture that happens to be driven by TV.
The interesting thing about addictions-- include gambling and sex and internet and "dangerous behaviors" and whatever else you want-- is that they all share something in common. Allegedly this thing is dopaminergic pathways to the striatum and etc, but saying that gets you nothing. It's astounding that the layperson chooses to think in these terms which though they are true are utterly meaningless, utterly unactionable, until you remember, oh, of course, in narcissism believing something is preferable to doing something because the former is about you and the latter is about everyone else.
Slightly off topic but here's an important example: say you yell every day at an/your eight year old girl for sloppy homework, admittedly a terrible thing to do but not uncommon, and eventually she thinks, "I'm terrible at everything" and gives up, so the standard interpretation of this is that she has lost self-confidence, she's been demoralized, and case by case you may be right, but there's another possibility which you should consider: she chooses to focus on "I'm terrible at everything" so that she can give up. "If I agree to hate myself I only need a 60? I'll be done in 10 minutes. "
It is precisely at this instant that a parent fails or succeeds, i.e. fails: do they teach the kid to prefer (find reinforcement in) the drudgery of boring, difficult work with little daily evidence of improvement, or do they teach the kid to prefer (find reinforcement in) about 20 minutes of sobbing hysterically and then off to Facebook and a sandwich? Each human being is only able to learn to prefer one of those at a time. Which one does the parent incentivize?
If you read this as laziness you have utterly missed the point. It's not laziness, because you're still working hard, but you are working purposelessly on purpose. The goal of your work is to be done the work, not to be better at work.
For a great many people this leads to an unconscious, default hierarchy in the mind, I'm not an epidemiologist but you got it in you sometime between the ages of 5 and 10:
is better than
<feeling terrible about yourself>
is better than
<the mental work of change>
You should memorize this, it is running your life. "I'm constantly thinking about ways to improve myself." No, you're gunning the engine while you're up on blocks. Obsessing and ruminating is a skill at which we are all tremendously accomplished, and admittedly that feels like mental work because it's exhausting and unrewarding, but you can no more ruminate your way through a life crisis than a differential equation. So the parents unknowingly teach you to opt for <b>, and after a few years of childhood insecurity, you'll choose the Blue Pill and begin the dreaming: someday and someplace you'll show someone how great you somehow are. And after a few months with that someone they will eventually turn to you, look deep into your eyes, and say, "look, I don't have a swimming pool, but if I did I'd drown myself in it. Holy Christ are you toxic."
"Well, my parents were really strict, they made me--" Keep telling yourself that. Chances are if your parents are between 50 and 90 they were simply terrible. Great expectations; epic fail. Your parents were dutifully strict about their arbitrary and expedient rules, not about making you a better person. "Clean your plate! Go to college!" Words fail me. They weren't tough, they were rigidly self-aggrandizing. "They made me practice piano an hour every day!" as if the fact of practice was the whole point; what they did not teach you is to try and sound better every practice. They meant well, they loved you, but the generation that invented grade inflation is not also going to know about self-monitoring and paedeia, which is roughly translated, "making yourself better at piano."
"You don't know how hard it is to raise kids," says someone whose main cultural influence in life was the Beatles. The fact that you will inevitably fail in creating Superman is not a reason not to try. Oh: I bet I know what you chose when you were 8.
The mistake is in thinking that misery and self-loathing are the "bad" things you are trying to get away from with Ambien and Abilify or drinking or therapy or whatever, but you have this completely backwards. Self-loathing is the defense against change, self-loathing is preferable to <mental work.> You choose misery so that nothing changes, and the Ambien and the drinking and the therapy placate the misery so that you can go on not changing. That's why when you look in the mirror and don't like what you see, you don't immediately crank out 30 pushups, you open a bag of chips. You don't even try, you only plan to try. The appearance of mental work, aka masturbation. The goal of your ego is not to change, but what you don't realize is that time is moving on regardless. Ian Anderson wrote a poem about this, you should study it carefully.
Coincidentally, four days after Amy told her story I heard Howard Stern railing about an uncle who liked to play golf. "It infuriated me that he never took a lesson, never tried to get better. He was happy just playing, he didn't care if he got any better. It made no sense to me. How can you enjoy something and not want to get better at it?" Answer: some people are happy with par. He isn't, which is why he succeeded. The retort is, "well, I don't want to have to improve on everything, some things I just want to mindlessly enjoy." I sympathize, but I also own a clock, and there are only 24hrs in a day. Look on how many of those hours go to true self-improvement vs. mindless enjoyment, and despair.
That hierarchy you learned-- and yes, it was learned in childhood-- applies to everything, including addictions. Addiction may be biological, but no one ever claims that getting clean is biological. "When I hit 45, my testosterone levels fell which also lowered the dopaminergic activity in the reinforcement pathways of the brain, so I was able to get off dope." Wait, is that true? HA! No. It's a decision, made at that time in those circumstances. I know it's a hard decision, but like every other decision in life it is ultimately a binary one. Biology is pulling you towards 0, learning pulls you towards 1.
"All this happens at age 8?!" Think of how many years you've since practiced that hierarchy. "So after childhood, you're screwed? You can't change?" Oh, no, people change all the time, once they figure out how they're sabotaging themselves. Now it's your turn.
So the thing that addictions-- drugs, internet, sex, etc-- all have in common is that they displace and replace something else. If you think of yourself as containing an amount of stuff, or energy, or emotion, addiction isn't in addition to that, the total amount of emotion and energy stays constant. The nature of the emotions change, but the overall quantity of anger+sadness+happiness+ etc is the same. The addiction replaced something, and you can't get rid of an addiction unless something replaces it.
Broadly speaking, addiction replaces one of two things: human connection or change. Jim Norton frequently complains that his sex addiction prevents him from pursuing a show or writing scripts, but the verb is wrong: the sex addiction allows him not to work on scripts. Doesn't he want a pilot? Sure. But this way he doesn't have to do the mental work of change and eventually he can die. "Is he afraid of success?" No, why would he be? The more invested you are in your "self"-- not happy with, but invested in-- the more you will resist the potential of change. "Self"-loathing means there is a strong "self" that you loathe, and that self doesn't want to disintegrate.
In the other category is human connection. What I don't mean is that a person lacking human connections turns to addiction, ha, you don't get off that easily: what I mean is that the addiction satisfies the same needs as human connection, but better. It bypasses the <mental work> of maintaining human connections. Say a married guy becomes an alcoholic, and this pushes his wife away, which of course makes him drink more. The problem now is that if he stops drinking, his wife doesn't automatically come back, right? She's pulled away as much as he's pushed. I'm sure she wants him to get clean and etc, but the energy math doesn't balance: he goes sober, the relationship may improve, but there's still a gap, still some emotional connection lost. Ergo: he cannot give up drinking.
More optimistically, the only way he is going to stop is: a) they split up; b) they double down on each other and talk MORE to each other, more than they do now, maybe that means that he skips rehab in order to go to couples therapy. "But the problem isn't the marriage." It is now.
This idea of having a finite "amount" of emotion seems preposterous, and weirdly it's usually most preposterous to the people who don't believe in soul or God or whatever yet also don't want to believe we are finite human beings with finite capacities.
Anyway, here's a very real example of it. Two wives are talking, "after ten years of marriage, we don't cuddle anymore. He used to always hug and kiss me, and now...." And the standard interpretation is kids + work + age = lost a connection, took it for granted, relationship is worse than it was. And then she sees her newlywed friends or anyone on ABC and they're constantly touching each other. Sigh. So maybe you misread one of my posts or studied Deepak Chopra for a decade and think, "ok, I'll just DO it, I'll just force myself to touch/kiss/cuddle and then behavior will lead emotion and we'll connect again." You try it and---- it feels fake.
Eventually the marriage ends, and you tell your friends: "when he stops touching you, it's the first sign."
That may be the interpretation, and if you're merely dating it probably is the interpretation, but there's another to consider: all that touching/cuddlying is now more appropriately given to the kids, it is more correct for them, and so doing it to an adult seems fake because it IS fake. You can't touch a 5 year old the same way you touch a 40 year old, not unless you're a [TBD priest/football joke here]. The point isn't that your relationship is worse, the point is that it is different because it has to be different because otherwise you would explode. What remains is for you to figure out some new, adult way to "touch", whether that's backrubs or a bondage mask I have no idea, but your love has to grow up or else you will think you've fallen out of love. "How can you incorrectly think you've fallen out of love?" How many times have you incorrectly thought you were in love?
I'm not judging Amy, at all, but her story is so representative of what countless women go through, the "I can't believe I did that" repeated 1000 times, so I hope she won't mind my using her story to make a point about how we frame our experiences for the very specific purpose of NOT changing.
It's not possible to overstate the importance of interpreting everything as a story-- by which I mean, you don't know the full story unless you know all of the acts. If one is missing, it is on purpose.
To be clear, as Amy was getting fingered in the cab, it wasn't happening as a story; but she's telling it to us as a story, with a beginning and an end. But the beginning and ending she chose are arbitrary, she chose them for a reason. She said the beginning was when she got in the cab and the end was when she got out of the cab, which sounds expedient, but you should be very, very suspicious of the way you frame a story because the goal is almost never to help you understand it but to make you be able to live with it. The goal is identity preservation. Make sure you stay the main character in your own movie.
So even though I have no idea why she wanted to get fingered by a cab driver, I have heard this type of story before, I know the structure, and I know the payoff is in Act V, which she conveniently forgot to mention.
There are people who like doing dangerous sexual stuff, and people who don't, and those who don't are divided into those who never tell anyone and those who do tell someone. I already knew Amy was in the latter category because she was telling the story on the radio, and people usually tell stories about things they are ashamed of for one reason: absolution.
The thing is, we are ten years later, and according to Amy herself not much has changed-- i.e. she still finds herself doing things she wish she didn't. Again, I am not judging her, I am only explaining a very common phenomenon. So in order for more stories like that one to occur in her life, there had to be an Act V in that story that allowed future repetition; and that Act V would be hidden-- she would always tell and remember the story without that part.
Which is why Guess What Happens Next is a rigged game, I knew exactly what was going to happen next at the beginning of the story: she'd run and tell the story to the one person in her life who had, simultaneously, full power of absolution and zero power of punishment, and if she was 28 that would be a therapist but at 18 it could only be one person: her mother.
Psychological detectives take note: Amy would not have mentioned that she told her mom, she thought the story was finished, except that someone accidentally asked what she did next explicitly. Yet it is the key to the whole story.
Telling mom may seem like madness but remember, the goal is always NOT to change. Imagine what would happen if she didn't tell mom: she'd either repeat these behaviors in a death spiral until she discovered meth and flamed out; or would be so guilty she never did it again. Mom recites the necessary spell to protect against future change and allow for repetition:
What were you thinking? You're not like that! You're not that kind of person! You're so much better than that!
Thanks, mom, I feel a lot better.
Every time you crowdsource the superego a piece of you is split off as bad keeping the rest of you intact as good. "I'm not a bad person, I just did a bad thing."
Women who engage in "dangerous behaviors" (NB: for gays and women this ALWAYS refers to sex, for hetero men NEVER) and then tell people about them are not punishing themselves, at all. "But it makes me feel so bad about myself." That's the hierarchy, that's the point. Two hours of sobbing hysterically and then off to Facebook and a sandwich. Thanks, mom.
People will do whatever has worked for them since childhood, which in this case is split off unpalatable pieces of themselves and disown them, protecting the rest. "I did that, but it's not who I am." When "it" is really bad you move to Step 2: find someone who can substitute for your atrophied superego to confirm "you're not like that", and you're good for a decade of emotional stagnation and the following crazy sentence: "I've changed a lot in ten years." Ha, yeah-- wait, you're serious? Dude, no one who is not you agrees. No one. Ask anyone. Not even your therapist. "That's not fair, my job isn't to judge." You're hired.
The downside of this, apart from candida, is that you train yourself to think of all events and behaviors as happening to separate parts of yourself-- you don't fully own them-- which means that when something good does happen you can't own that, either. Everything will come with self-doubt. "That was good, but I was lucky/right place/other guy died/connections, otherwise it wouldn't have worked."
I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, "ok, all this is fine.... but why did she do it? Why did she get fingered in a cab if she didn't want to?"
You're thinking, "I don't want to hear about how everything is interpretable through the artificial paradigm of narrative structure--" as if it was me and not your god who made it this way, as if I was better able to invent a convenient fiction that happened to apply to you rather than describe a process that's been used for millennia. You think you're the first? You think no one but you has lived your life? Do you think you are so unique? Do you think I just took a guess? This isn't the first time this game has been played, there've been over 100 generations of Guess What Happens Next and it is the exact same answer every single time. All of this has happened before and it will happen again.
But you want "why", you're drawn to "why" like you're drawn to a pretty girl in the rain. Let me guess: she has black hair, big eyes, and is dressed like an ingenue. "Why?" is the most seductive of questions because it is innocent, childlike, infinite in possibilities, and utterly devoted to you.
"Why am I this way? Why do I do what I do?" But what will you do with that information? What good is it? If you were an android, would it change you to know why you were programmed the way you were? "Why" is masturbation, "why" is the enemy, the only question that matters is, now what?
But you want "why". Ok, here we go.
The clue is that she did this at the end of the night. "Is it because she was drunk?" I'm drunk now, and I'm in an air taxi, and no one is fingering me. No.
You will observe that most of your "I can't believe I did that" behaviors are at the end of the night, the end of the day, the end of the party, the end of the story, which means the narrative has less in common with a porno than with the last chip in the bag or the last swig out of the bottle-- there are a billion possible reasons why you started the bottle or plowed through the bags, but that very last one has only one unique motivation, and it is in understanding that last one that you will or will not change your future.
When you're in a casino and you blow $50 on the slot machine, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, each and every time you're hoping that this will be the one that hits, and once in a while you get a little something-- it is the randomness, the suddenness, the unpredictability of that even tiny reward which keeps you pulling through your bankroll. "Variable ratio schedule." Sound right? Well, none of those $50 have anything to do with the cab ride.
But then you're done, tapped out, and you turn to go but.... wait a minute............................ you have one token left. Stop now, look at that one, look carefully at it, it is your contract with the Devil, it is the selling of your soul. What is its value? Look at it, it doesn't matter what you do, it matters what you think-- which means what you are about to do has already been decided.
You could pocket that last one. Go home with something other than nothing. Or, you could play that last one with superstitious hope, praying and bargaining that if you hit you'll X/Y/Z. But neither of those are what you think, right? Instead you think, "whatever" and you put it in the machine-- NOT because you think this time it will pay off-- be honest with yourself, you know that that initial optimism of game play is gone-- you do it precisely because you know it will fail-- you are throwing it away, on purpose, so you can walk away from the machine "clean", finished, so you can play-act at catharsis. "This is the last one!" you cry, like you're yelling out "it is accomplished!" The final suffering, look for a brand new me in a few days. And unlike Amy's cab ride, you are turning this experience into a story in real time, you are writing the ending as if someone else is watching, as if it were a reality show or you were offering a voice over, you are constructing that experience, saying your lines, as the last Act of a story being told to an imaginary audience, a god, your future self, the balance of energy in the universe-- The Big Other.
And you think you're done but what you don't realize is you're only done Act III.
That's the last chip in the bag-- "whatever, might as well." That's the last swig, "I'm never drinking again." That's selling your stocks into a downturn, that's your sexual history, throwing it away one more time not because this time the guy is going to be great but because it's not going to be great, it's a sacrifice to the volcano.
You throw it away, on purpose, because it's not worth holding on to it, you've already disavowed it as useless, evil, pointless, hopeless-- it is the last remnant of a part of you you want gone. You play that last coin, drink that last drink, eat that last chip and throw your vagina at a billy goat-- all of those are the splitting off of a piece of yourself that you then can leave behind. The act is the "physical expression of an intrapsychic process"-- you are acting out what you wish were true, like a rape victim scrubbing herself clean. "That's not me--- anymore." If only it were that easy. I sympathize, you have no idea.
What's most sad about it is that you might have been right-- it might have worked-- except that instead of making that be the end of the story you drag it out for one more Act, and ensure that the pattern repeats, ad nauseam. You don't want the story to end. It's not a great story, but it's the one you know, the one you understand, and you'd rather have 500 pages of repetition compulsion than take a chance on Once Upon A Time. Writing is hard, I know. I know.
"How can any of this even be real?" you ask, hoping that since I drink and since I don't sleep therefore I must be insane. Never mind that: focus on the words. Since you reinterpret your life as a story, then your entire book has already been written, give me Acts I-III and the beginning of IV I can tell you the ending. Ok, maybe in your story you it's a job and not a whale, or you choose a car not a train, or maybe it's "Reader, I married him" or "there's something we need to do as soon as possible"-- minor details, the ending always flows logically from the beginning-- and if you're young enough you'll even think you'd be satisfied with a tragedy as long as it's dramatic enough. Don't sweat it, it's the age. But if I'm permitted I'll offer you one final prediction, you'll either take this as a warning or remember that you don't believe in all this crap: if you are looking for the perfect climax but have no knowledge of the resolution, if you do not write your story towards an ending, then your life will default to the one ending that will terrify you more than any other possible: "He could not refrain from going on with them, but it seems to us that we may stop here." It is inevitable.