“The Psicologo” by Javier Sánchez
I share a post by Javier Sánchez for the enjoyment of a real friend, and imaginary ones, who, along with me, study Spanish. Javier takes wicked potshots at moving targets in his zany, deadpan, rollicking, headlong, trigger-happy, over-the-top, irreverent, zesty romp. His creation sends me a whiff of Hunter Thompson. My Spanish being acquired, not native, I’m sure I miss plenty of nuances. It’s beyond me to do justice to the myriad detail, lightness of touch, and mischievous slanging that Javier deploys, but I want to hint at its gist and flavor as best I can. In the following, I mix summary and paraphrase with snippets of the Spanish text translated (or mistranslated) by me.
Mi nombre es Alberto Lose, pero todo el mundo me llama Javier Sánchez, la policía me conoce como el “come papas”, es que estoy gordito y mi pareja llama “oye tú” [My name’s Alberto Lose, but everyone calls me Javier Sánchez, the cops know me as the “eat potatoes” [“potato eater”?], I’m on the heavy side and my partner calls me with “hey you.”]
Unemployed, bored, miserable, at loose ends in a stifling flat with a cheap sofa that leaves him stove up and dragging himself around like a “drunk snail,” he considers jumping out the window: En vista de que estaba a punto de tirarme por la ventana y no me hubiera hecho nada pues vivo en una planta baja. [In light of which I was on the brink of throwing myself out the window and it wouldn’t have done anything to me since I live on the ground floor.]
He suddenly catches a glimpse of his “super computer” out of the corner of his eye and approaches the “diabolical machine”: … Le di al botón de power y me fui a cocinar, es que tengo Windows 95 y tarda unos 45 minutos en arrancar. [I pressed the power button and went to cook a meal, the fact is I have Windows 95 and it takes 45 minutes to boot up.]
Surfing the net of nets, amongst all the “shit” that was there it occurred to him to look for courses of instruction, and lo and behold: … Vi uno que me pareció interesante, un curso de una escuela online que se llama “Psicólogy barating of the dead for losers…” [I saw one that looked interesting to me, a course of an online school that was called “Psychology berating [?] of the dead for losers…”] It has nice photos, and the computer downloads them to Alberto at the sedate pace of 3 minutes per picture. The academy has a typical British aspect, including people playing cricket which, Alberto clarifies, is a sport like baseball but played on dirt and dressed in the style of the 18th century.
Alberto signs up for the 800-hour course. He takes classes 8 hours a day and devotes weekends to studying and weeping. He’s an empathetic person, and when people weep, he weeps. By hook and crook with drastic cheating, Alberto acquires a diploma to practice psychology. He hangs out a shingle on the 32nd floor of a Barcelona tower in an office perfumed with Chinese patchouli and sticks of sandalwood. The locale has a fine view of the sea, say neighbors. Alberto takes it on faith because his windows face in the opposite direction. No surprise, things don’t go well consultation-wise. It’s hard. You have to talk to all kinds of weird people! Alberto discovers in practice that few go to a psychologist, and those who do are in bad shape. But in the evenings he hits the bars and relaxes over a few drinks with his invisible friend Pepe.
A cultured gentleman of 60 shows up — an Argentinian accountant named Alejandro Jaramillo Cuesta. He walks into the office with a determined step and looks the place up and down. Alberto shrewdly deduces that he’s by nature an observant fellow who looks places up and down. The sonofabitch proves to be asymmetryphobic, streetphobic, spousephobic, phobiaphobic, and suffers from pernicious alopecia. He bellyaches for one hour and fifty-eight minutes during which Alberto can’t get a word in edgewise, and alternates sleeping with taking copious notes. In the end the psychologist tells the patient to stick his troubles up his ass and fuck off. Then he inquires, “Will you be paying by card, check or cash?” The jerking of his head while sleeping during the session worked havoc on Alberto’s neck. After the fact, he bought a neck brace to wear, the kind they put on you in an ambulance, telling inquisitive clients it’s for an injury incurred while playing team chess.
After the rocky encounter with Alejandro Jaramillo Cuesta, which nearly caused him to lose his vocation, Alberto settles into steady practice with 4 patients whose sessions he spends wearing ear plugs and spectacles that have open eyes painted on them.
There’s a lot left out, but that’s a taste of the hijinks as I perceive them. Apologies to Javier for any insult in my précis to his original. It’s the translator’s fault.
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