Dear Dr. Faux,
My boss has a dual existence that he doesn't think I know about and he’s married. I am extremely worried about him and curious about how one goes about living a double life, but it might shock him into firing me if I bring up the subject. I'm writing to ask how you think he will respond if I get up the nerve to ask him about his "situation." Please sign me, Jealous in Jersey
Whisper Valley Trailer Park is in the high desert where it is very cold. Dr. Faux’s Airstream is made of metal and is poorly insulated and his heater is turned off. Dr. Faux must conserve propane. It is either propane or vodka, vodka or propane: the eternal dialogue and Dr. Faux has made his choice. When Dr. Faux lies down at night on his sofa bed and attempts to sleep he has a recurring dream. He dreams that he is lying in a giant ice tray, in the freezer of an old Frigidaire, back when refrigerators were called iceboxes. He is on his back in the tray; his arms are crossed, his eyes are open, and he is naked. Three sides of the metal of the ice tray are touching him—an abnormally narrow ice tray, more like a coffin. The cold is unspeakable. The freezer door opens and a huge hand reaches in but does not remove the ice tray where Dr. Faux is lying. Dr Faux hears himself screaming for help, begging to be removed from the freezer, offering to work as a naked-old-man ice cube in a glass of some odious non-alcoholic drink, like orange juice or vomitous cranberry juice, anything to escape the freezer. He even offers to work as part of an ice pack to be used by Deepak Chopra for an upper groin injury, anything to get out of the ice tray and the freezer. Instead the hand reaches for a box of frozen peas and the door closes as Dr. Faux continues to scream. Pay attention. It is cold in the upper desert, in Whisper Valley, even colder in the Airstream; but Dr. Faux must continue to work, to answer letters, to offer the kind of sage advice that only he can offer. Dr. Faux has taken an old pair of woolen gloves and cut off the fingers down to the first knuckle and is wearing them as he types. He picks up your letter, the first in the pile, and reads it. He does not understand. Something about your boss and a dual existence and a “situation” and your being “curious” and his response if you confront him and the possibility of being fired. Dr. Faux is dizzy; in fact he is nauseated. He will now have a truly medicinal drink of vodka and read your letter again. There, a healthy slash of vodka and the letter has been read again. Nothing; he still does not understand. Dr. Faux has now moved your letter closer to the light and is using a magnifying glass, to determine if there might be some kind of cryptic message, an interlinear letter in faint ink that is not immediately obvious, a letter that is lucid, and dare he ask for it, rational and asks an answerable question. No, nothing there. And now he will turn to Muffins, one of his dear cats, who is sitting on the table watching Dr. Faux as he writes. Dr. Faux shows Muffins the letter. Mufffins smells it, marks it and then jumps off the table and walks to the cat box. Of no help. And now Dr. Faux takes his coffee cup and orients the handle toward Sedona, Arizona and puts his ear to the cup. He listens for a message from the spirit world about your letter. Nothing. All he hears is a pitch about a tour bus leaving for a vortex and the sale of souvenir Indian headdresses that will cure headaches; Dr. Faux wishes he had one. He will now lean back in his chair and place your letter on his forehead and hum a love song, an old favorite, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” The letter, still on his forehead, begins to vibrate and now has—have a care!—burst into flames! Pay attention. That last part was not true. Nor is your letter. You are not asking the right question of Dr. Faux. You are in love with your boss. Why not say that? Write Dr. Faux again and ask a question about unrequited love. If the cold has not killed Dr. Faux, he will attempt to answer it.
Dear Dr. Faux,
I understand the United States Postal Service is issuing a Mother Theresa stamp. I think that's a great idea and want to buy a good supply for use in our home. My wife, on the other hand, doesn't agree because, she says, such stamps may offend non-believers. I argue that it comes from us, so it should reflect what we want, not what the recipient wants. Who is right in this matter? Please sign me, In Mother's corner in Idaho.
Dear Mother, In Mother’s, Something about a Mother,
“Teresa,” not “Theresa,” is the spelling. Today is a day for re-reading. Yes, your letter says that the United States Postal Service is issuing a stamp honoring saintly Mother Teresa, and you ask some question about the issuance of the stamp and a problem you’re having with your wife, some disagreement. Dr. Faux apologizes, but he cannot help you. For Dr. Faux there are certain questions that dare not speak their answers. A stamp honoring Mother T. How could that be? Saintly Mother Teresa is the person who took money from Charles Keating and the Duvaliers of Haiti—her cronies and contributors—and said, “I think the world is much helped by the suffering of the poor people.” She said that. She also said no to abortion and birth control so that her supply of poor people would be constantly refreshed and her saintly work could continue. What’s next? A Hitler stamp? A Bernard Madoff stamp? A stamp honoring the bubonic plague? What are the symptoms of hypothermia? Dr. Faux was in medical school many years ago and never practiced general medicine. Are there hallucinations associated with hypothermia? Dr. Faux just looked out the window of his trailer and saw Mother Teresa riding a skateboard. Then she stopped and turned toward the Airstream; she seemed to be offering sexual favors to Dr. Faux, pulling up her habit to her knees, batting her tiny black eyes. Then she turned around and shook her…no, it’s too much. Is that stamp with her image self-adhesive? Licking is no longer required of stamps, is it? Is that correct? Dr. Faux seems to be in a delirium induced by hypothermia. Someone, hello! Please tell Dr. Faux that no licking is required. Dr. Faux is now turning on the heater and burning propane on high and is hoping that his core temperature will rise and that he will live. He also hopes that he can find the resources to buy vodka and plenty of it; he needs a supply of vodka. A stamp honoring Mother Teresa! He has a friend named Bubbles who occasionally helps Dr. Faux. She works Shriner’s conventions and in a certain light can make a little money. There’s a chance that she can help Dr. Faux with both heat and vodka. Pay attention. Dr. Faux is reading your letter again. A Mother Teresa stamp! Are there hallucinations associated with hypothermia? Someone is trying to get through the door of Dr. Faux’s Airstream. A loud knocking and the voice of an old woman, accent. “Hello, honey, you cute man! Terry wants in.” Someone help Dr. Faux! He will move to his sofa bed now and pull the covers over his head. He must now stop writing and attempt to get warm. Perhaps Muffins and Tom-Tom will join him, lend him their heat. Please forgive Dr. Faux for the brevity of this response—indeed, the lack of response— and send good thoughts for his recovery from the cold and his visions of saintly Mother T.
Dr. J. Jean Johann Faux lives at the Whisper Valley Trailer Park in an ancient Airstream with his cats, Muffins and Tom-Tom. He once had a lucrative psychotherapy practice in Beverly Hills until his rich, flaky clients tired of his recommending the palliative power of rational thinking and one-by-one left him for Marianne Williamson, L. Ron Hubbard and Deep the Chop—Deepak Chopra.