Sunday, May 20, 2007

The suicide love line

Some years ago, I met a woman -- can't remember where. She was a psychotherapist, slim and attractive in a Levantine way. (I also can't remember her ethnic background; there's a lot of lacunae in my memory bank, probably the result of trauma that I experienced from around, say, 1974 to 2001 or so.)

This was back in the 1980s, when sex moved in the express lane, and men and women had an unspoken "one-date rule." Thus, during a pleasant dinner, the therapist informed me that in addition to her private practice, she volunteered to be an emergency counselor on the Suicide Hotline. This required her to be home at 9:30 every other Saturday night and available to receive calls from desperate people who were seriously contemplating self-extinction. And then she asked if I would mind coming to her apartment. Again, I was younger, and the imminent possibility of getting laid prevented me from considering either the ethical dimensions of trying to seduce someone away from the outstretched hand of some bridge-jumper and the practical impediments to doing so.

I rationalized it by thinking that since she initiated it, she must have a way of multi-tasking that would accommodate both interests. She told me that some nights were very slow, and almost nobody wanted to off themselves. I hoped that something good was on television that night that would distract the suicides at least for a few hours. Maybe a good heavyweight bout.

We quickly removed our clothes and had reached a stage of advanced foreplay when the first call came through...

(to be continued)


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