You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hooked on a Feeling


A therapist, an experienced middle-aged Doctor of Psychology, sits in his well furnished office, making notes. There is a knock on the door.

DOCTOR: Come in.

Johnny Cash walks into the room. He's is dressed in all black, with a long, leather coat, jeans, and cowboy boots. His hair is a resplendent ebony.

DOCTOR: Sit down, Mister (looks at his notes) Mister Cash, is it?

JOHNNY CASH: (Nodding grimly) Mmm hmmm.

DOCTOR: So, Mr. Cash, have a seat. (Johnny sits down on the couch next to the doctor.) How are you feeling today.

JOHNNY CASH: I'm feeling mighty blue, Doc.

DOCTOR: Yes, that's understandable. Most people feel depressed when they first confront their addictions. That's what we here at the Betty Ford Auxiliary Clinic for Celebrity Malfeasance are here for. Today is the start of your recovery.

JOHNNY CASH: I don't know, Doc. This monkey on my back... well, I feel like I'm the airplane and he's King Kong.

DOCTOR: The grip of substances like these always feels strong at the beginning. We'll loosen it, finger by hairy finger.

JOHNNY CASH: If'n you say so.

DOCTOR: So, tell me how you first got started with your particular monkey.

JOHNNY CASH: I was at a party in Nashville, a pool party. It was a swanky place, the kind with gold fixtures on both the sink and the toilet. There were record executives, musicians, and lots of attractive young women around the pool. There was every kind of drink, from Jim Beam to Jack Daniels, and all kinds of weed, blow, and smack. Man, I thought I'd seen every wretched vice on earth, and it was all there, but I'd never come across this vicious mistress until that dark day.

DOCTOR: I see. Please go on.

JOHNNY CASH: Well, there were three or four pretty young things in skimpy, string bikinis, sitting over in a corner, laughing. So, I wandered over to see what they were so happy about and that's when I saw it for the first time. They were doing the stuff.

DOCTOR: What kind of stuff?

JOHNNY CASH: (Pause) Sorry, Doc. It's still hard to think about. They... they were doing Yahtzee.

DOCTOR: I see. So, "Yahtzee" is slang for a particular kind of speed or hallucinogenic?

JOHNNY CASH: No, it wasn't like that.

DOCTOR: Was it a type of cocaine or heroin?

JOHNNY CASH: No, man! You don't get it at all. They were playing the GAME, Yahtzee!!"

DOCTOR: The game? Yahtzee??


DOCTOR: The one by Milton Bradley?


DOCTOR: With the dice and the little score card?

JOHNNY CASH: Exactly! That's the devil I'm talkin' about.

DOCTOR: (Pause) (Sympathetically) Mr. Cash. I realize that you're very concerned about your condition, but we are just talking about a children's game.

JOHNNY CASH: (Rising from his seat) A children's game? Doc, I mortgaged two mansions, a jet speedboat, and my ebony Lincoln Continental because of that "children's game!"

DOCTOR: Now, now, let's not get too exicited.

JOHNNY CASH: June Carter told me not to come back unless I broke myself clean of that "children's game."

DOCTOR: I'm sure she did...

JOHNNY CASH: She threw a Gibson guitar at my head, Doc!! A limited edition!!!

DOCTOR: (Long pause) Please, sit down. Let's talk about the game. 

JOHNNY CASH: Don't get me wrong, Doc. The first time I saw it, I thought the same thing. Listen, you treat gambling addictions here, right?"


JOHNNY CASH: Well, think about it. You've got dice. You've got three-of-a-kind, four-of-a-kind, full house! It's like craps, slots, and poker, wrapped all in one sultry package!

DOCTOR: I think I'm beginning to understand a bit. So, you said that you had mortgaged quite a bit of your property. Do you play for money?

JOHNNY CASH: No,, you don't play Yahtzee for money! You play for Yahtzee to shout the word, man! That magical, enticing, beautiful, infuriating, tormenting word!"

DOCTOR: Yahtzee?

JOHNNY CASH: Even the way you say it makes me swoon like a schoolgirl at a Beatles concert.

DOCTOR: So, how did you lose the money?

JOHNNY CASH: Yahtzee's not a cheap game, Doc. Not when you're hooked.

DOCTOR: Do tell.

JOHNNY CASH: I'd go through a hundred score books at day, playing game after game. I'd go through 50 cups of expresso just to keep my nerves up. I'd travel to Yahtzee tournaments all over the country, skipping concerts and recording sessions. Then, it got worse.

DOCTOR: Go on.

JOHNNY CASH: I started getting into the Yahtzee paraphernalia.

DOCTOR: The parapher... I'm sorry, the what?

JOHNNY CASH: I bought gold plated, monogrammed dice cups; leather bound score books, crystal dice with little ruby dots, and a big ole' cowboy hat with the word "Yahtzee" spelled out on it, in rhinestones.

DOCTOR: I can see you were smitten with the game.

JOHNNY CASH: (Bitterly) Smitten? SMITTEN?!? I've been cold turkey for the last two weeks before I got in here. My hair is gettin' frazzled. My mouth's drier than a Death Valley martini. My hands shake like I was holdin' the business end of an electric cattle prod. I can't sleep! The thought of food nauseates me! I can't write music or even think of singin'!! This thing's wreckin' me to pieces!!! (Pause) Yet, even now, Doc, I'd punch you in the face over and over again, until your skull cracked like a hard-boiled egg, just for one sweet taste of Yahtzee.

Johnny buries his face in his hands.

DOCTOR: OK! (Pause) Let's think about some treatment. Have you considered replacement therapy?

JOHNNY CASH: What do you mean, Doc?"

DOCTOR: Well, the idea is to find something that brings you a similar kind of satisfaction and release, yet isn't as harmful or addictive. For example, have you considered trying to switch to Monopoly or Life?

JOHNNY CASH: I know what you mean, and well, to be honest, Monopoly and Life are just too artificial for me. I can't relate to that little dog or the top hat, and trying to jam kids into those little Life cars is just impossible.

DOCTOR: Have you thought about Bingo? You do get to shout the word.

JOHNNY CASH: I did try Bingo, I bought the cards and the chips and everything, man, but the rush just wasn't the same. I'd holler the word and the first thing I'd think of was, "There was a farmer had a dog..."

DOCTOR: That is the downside.

JOHNNY CASH: (singing bitterly) B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O. (Pause) Plus, I just felt out of place in all those weird parlors, man.

DOCTOR: (Hopefully) How about Clue?

JOHNNY CASH: Now you're just mockin' me!!!

DOCTOR: (Pause) Listen, ...John. I know things look dark now. I know that you must feel like the dice in the Yahtzee cup, spinning around and around, not knowing when and where you'll come out and how things will turn out.

JOHNNY CASH: Full House or a lousy low combo... You're not really helpin' me take my mind off things, here Doc.

DOCTOR: I know, I know, but we'll get there. We'll get there.

JOHNNY CASH: I hope so, man, because I'm worried things will get worse.

DOCTOR: Worse?

JOHNNY CASH: You do know Yahtzee is a gateway drug to Parcheesi?