Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Obituary

When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, "Gary Freedman is survived by an apartment full of shit." I'm surprised I haven't been buried alive. I have to struggle to keep a path clear between couch and toilet, toilet and table, table and front door. If I want to get from the toilet to the front door, I have to go by way of the table. I like to imagine the couch as home plate, the toilet as first, the table as second, the front door as third: should the doorbell ring while I am lying on the couch, I have to round the toilet and the table in order to arrive at the door. If it happens to be Stanley Schmulewitz, I let him in without a word and then jog back to the couch, the roar of the invisible crowd ringing in my ears. Stanley Schmulewitz, who has lived in the building for the past thirty-six years, is president of the tenants association.

I often wonder who will be the last person to see me alive. If I had to bet, I'd bet on Pius Cookson, the building engineer. Pius Cookson has been the engineer for at least the last sixteen years. He lives with his family down the hall from my apartment. I pass him in the hall a few times a week, entering or exiting his apartment. Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, Pius Cookson enters my apartment to change the filter in the heating/cooling unit. Whenever he comes, I make a big production of the affair. After all, it happens only twice a year and I get few visitors. He stands at the door holding the filter while I wonder if this is the night I'll finish off my daily spaghetti, climb into bed, and have a heart attack in my sleep.

I try to make a point of being seen. Often when I'm out I'll buy a juice, even if I'm not thirsty. If the store s crowded, I'll sometimes go so far as to drop my change all over the floor, the nickels and dimes skidding in every direction. I'll go into the Athlete's Foot and say, "What do you have in sneakers?" The clerk will look me over like the poor schmuck that I am and direct me to the one pair of Rockports they carry, something in spanking white. "Nah," I'll say, "I have those already," and then I'll make my way over to the Reeboks and pick out something that doesn't even resemble a shoe, a waterproof bootie, maybe, and ask for it in size 11. The kid will look again, more carefully. "Size 11," I'll repeat, holding his gaze while I clutch the webbed shoe. He'll shake his head and go to the back for them, and by the time he returns I'm peeling off my socks. I'll roll my pant legs up and look down at those decrepit things my feet, and an awkward minute will pass until it becomes clear that I'm waiting for him to slip the booties onto them. I never actually buy. All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen.

A few months ago, I saw an ad in the paper. It said, "NEEDED: NUDE MODEL FOR DRAWING CLASS. $15 AN HOUR." It seemed too good to be true. To have so much looked at, by so many. I called the following Tuesday. I tried to describe myself, she wasn't interested. "Anything will do," she said.

The days passed slowly. I told Stanley Schmulewitz about it, but he misunderstood. He thought I was signing up for a drawing class in order to see nude girls. He didn't want to be corrected. "Their breasts?" he asked. "They show their boobs?" I shrugged. "And down there?"

After Maxine Krieger on the fourth floor died of a massive stroke and it took three days for anyone to find her, Stanley Schmulewitz and I got into the habit of checking on each other. We'd make little excuses--"I ran out of toilet paper," I'd say when Stanley Schmulewitz opened his door. A day would pass. There would be a knock on my door. "I lost my TV Guide," he'd explain, and I'd go and find him mine, even though I new his was right where it always was, on his couch. Once, he came down on a Sunday afternoon. "I need a cup of flour," he said. It was clumsy, but I couldn't help myself. "You don't know how to cook," I said. There was a moment of silence. Stanley Schmulewitz looked me in the eye. "What do you know," he said. "I'm baking a cake."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Being 18

What you don't know when you're 18 is that you'll be 18 for the rest of your life.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Roommate from Hell

I had a college dorm roommate with a narcissistic personality disorder, I think. He had two girlfriends--an on-campus girlfriend and an at-home girlfriend. Neither knew about each other, of course. I went looking through his things (I know you're not supposed to, but I'm an asshole myself) one day and I found his little black book. Page after page of girls names and telephone numbers. He was incapable of a deep, mature emotional relationship with women, so it's no surprise that we could never establish any rapport. He had one male friend that I knew about. He was a jock. When the two of them got together all they ever talked about was the girls they did.

He demanded to have the room to himself all evening about four nights a week or more so he could have sex with his on-campus girlfriend. I got the room to myself every two weeks when he went home on weekends to have sex with his at-home girlfriend.

He once put a used condom in my bed. Nice touch.

He used to object to my smoking cigarettes, and would open the window when I lit up. But he smoked a pipe.

He stole a glass sugar dispenser from the dining hall. One day I accidentally broke the sugar dispenser. He told me I had to get him more sugar. Not being a psychopath, I went to a grocery store to buy him a box of sugar cubes. I gave them to him and he was angry. "I wanted you to replace the sugar dispenser you broke with another one just like it from the dining hall." He wanted me to steal for him. Then a few days later he was apologetic and said he had gotten used to the sugar cubes and even found them to be superior to the glass sugar dispenser.

When the weather got cold (this was at Penn State in the mountains of central Pennsylvania) he bought a bottle of cherry vodka. He took a shot every morning to keep him warm on his way to class. That was his breakfast.

One time he asked me if I wanted to play chess. I said "sure." He had bought a little plastic chess set. I'm a miserable chess player, but he was worse. When it became clear to him that he wasn't going to win the game, he said: "I'm not playing this game anymore." No sense of fair play.

One Friday afternoon he told me he wanted the dorm room for the entire night because he wanted to sleep with his girlfriend. I had to find a friend who had a spare bed to let me sleep in all night.

One time I was alone in the dorm room, and decided to take a shower. I went to the bathroom to take a shower. And by the time I had gotten back to the room, the door was locked. My roommate was back and having sex with his girlfriend. I had to wait outside in the hall with a towel wrapped around my naked ass till he finished.

Anybody know what happened to Robert Brennan from Doylestown, Pennsylvania--an accountancy major who graduated from Penn State in May 1974?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Contrary to what the radical feminists tell us, men and women are fundamentally different, not only physically, but also psychologically. That is the reason for the well known observation that men are from Mars, while women are from Venus.

If you love reading 19th Century literature and personal correspondence from that time, you would notice that men who lived at the time, developed very deep friendships with each other, that are not common today. It is true that men from that era did not hug as much as men do today, and it is known that men were much less lachrymose than in this wimpy age. But friendships between men, nevertheless, had a very strong emotional content, and in reading letters that men frequently wrote to each other, their relationships had great depth. Those friendships were different from the superficial relationships that many men of today have with their golfing partners, poker pals, and drinking buddies.

Men were able to trust each other with stuff they would never tell their wives about. And in their letters, men were able to express deep feelings for each other, although they did so in rather formal language. But these relationships were healthy and beautiful, and were not corrupted with vulgar insinuations of homosexual attraction. I am thinking of relationships similar to that of David and Jonathan in the Old Testament, although, even that beautiful friendship has in recent years been distorted by advocates of the gay lifestyle to promote their perverse agenda.

Today, it is rare to see those sorts of old fashioned friendships, between two men who admire, respect, and trust each other, and who base their friendship on a strong code of honor, with both men also having a strong sense of self-respect. What was remarkable about those friendships, is that they lasted a lifetime, and also persisted during long periods of separation. If you read 19th century personal correspondences, you will find incidents where two men have been separated for 20 years or more, because of career or other commitments, and have managed to write to each other at least once each month over all that time. Upon re-uniting after such a long separation, such men could resume personal contact, with the familiarity of next door neighbors, despite their long physical separation.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Tragic Dilemma of the Schizoid

This post describes the personality disorder that I have, Schizoid Personality Disorder.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

A Comprehensive Phenomenological Profile

In an article in the American Journal of Psychotherapy, Salman Akhtar, M.D., provides a comprehensive phenomenological profile of Schizoid Personality Disorder in which classic and contemporary descriptive views are synthesized with psychoanalytic observations. This profile is summarized in a table (reproduced below) listing clinical features, involving six areas of psychosocial functioning and designated by "overt" and "covert" manifestations. Dr. Akhtar states that "these designations do not imply conscious or unconscious but denote seemingly contradictory aspects that are phenomenologically more or less easily discernible," and that "this manner of organizing symptomology emphasizes the centrality of splitting and identity confusion in schizoid personality."


I. Self-Concept


Compliant; stoic; noncompetitive; self-sufficient; lacking assertiveness; feeling inferior and an outsider in life.


Cynical; inauthentic; depersonalized; alternately feeling empty, robot-like and full of omnipotent, vengeful fantasies; hidden grandiosity.

II. Interpersonal Relations


Withdrawn; aloof; have few close friends; impervious to others' emotions; afraid of intimacy.


Exquisitely sensitive; deeply curious about others; hungry for love; envious of others' spontaneity; intensely needy of involvement with others; capable of excitement with carefully selected intimates.

III. Social Adaptation


Prefer solitary occupational and recreational activities; marginal or eclectically sociable in groups; vulnerable to esoteric movements owing to a strong need to belong; tend to be lazy and indolent.


Lack clarity of goals; weak ethnic affiliation; usually capable of steady work; sometimes quite creative and may make unique and original contributions; capable of passionate endurance in certain spheres of interest.

IV. Love and Sexuality


Asexual, sometimes celibate; free of romantic interests; averse to sexual gossip and innuendo.


Secret vouyeristic and pornographic interests; vulnerable to erotomania; tendency towards compulsive masturbation and perversions.

V. Ethics, Standards, and Ideals


Idiosyncratic moral and political beliefs; tendency towards spiritual, mystical and para-psychological interests.


Moral unevenness; occasionally strikingly amoral and vulnerable to odd crimes, at other times altruistically self sacrificing.

VI. Cognitive Style


Absent-minded; engrossed in fantasy; vague and stilted speech; alternations between eloquence and inarticulateness.


Autistic thinking; fluctuations between sharp contact with external reality and hyperreflectiveness about the self; autocentric use of language.

Akhtar, S. Schizoid Personality Disorder: A Synthesis of Developmental, Dynamic, and Descriptive Features. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 151:499-518, 1987.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Tunnel of Boredom

I find myself in my room as motionless as a man can be, who is completely and emptily restless, utterly hollow. I have done all the work I want to do--and now there is nothing. I could go out, travel down town on the subway, run to town. But I do not want to go down town, I do not want to run to town, I don't want to do anything. I am suspended motionless, in an agony of inertia, like a machine that is without power.

This is very bitter to me, who had never known what boredom was, who had gone from activity to activity, never at a loss. Now, gradually, everything seems to be stopping in me. I do not want any more to do the things that offer. Something dead within me just refuses to respond to any suggestion. I cast over in my mind, what it would be possible to do, to save myself from this misery of nothingness, relieve the stress of this hollowness. And there are only three things left, that would rouse me, make me live. One is to drink a beer, the other is to be soothed by a friend, and the third is women. And there is no one for the moment to drink with. Nor is there a woman. And I have no friends. So there is nothing to do but to bear the stress of my own emptiness.