“I’m Not Mad, I’m Hysterical”

You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #19 of The Word Count podcast.

The prompt was “The only difference between a madman and me is that I’m not mad.”

* * * *

“Did you know that you can sell guns on any street corner in Alabama, but it’s against the law to sell sex toys?”

He pursed his lips, showing his disapproval. “And how do you know so much about the subject, Lena?”

“I read. Just because I don’t have letters after my name doesn’t mean I’m ill-informed.”

“No, no, of course not. You’re an intelligent woman, Lena.”

“Don’t patronize me, you narrow-minded hypocrite.”

“Lena, there’s no need to be combative. I’m just trying to help you.”

I glared at the man sitting in front of me—a boy, really. He was probably no more than thirty but had the wisdom of a ten year old. At the insistence of my god-fearing husband, I’d been coerced to seek medical help. I was even prescribed drugs for my little problem, though I didn’t take them, of course.

“Yes doc, in Alabama, you can shoot your guns at will so long as you’re of legal age. Just don’t shoot your sperm into a vinyl blow-up doll.”

His expression changed, though unsuccessfully masking his contempt. “Really, Lena, must you speak in such lewd terms?”

“Your puritanical way of thinking is ridiculous and maddening.”

“And why does that make you mad, Lena?”

This guy was something else, so incredibly innocent that I could bait him with a piece of snot. “First of all, doc, don’t call me by my name. You haven’t earned the right, and you’re not going to endear yourself to me by doing so. Secondly, the term madness is open for interpretation. I’ve been called many things: insane; crazy; even hysterical, which in itself is quite ironic.”

Ironic indeed. My problem was that I had urges—often, and I didn’t mind satisfying them. The issue was my dear husband didn’t think it was normal for me to have such an active libido, and he was shelling out big bucks to have me “cured.” He certainly didn’t approve of my using vibrators, or as he called them, my “marital aids.” In Victorian times, I would’ve been brought into an office not unlike this one, only I’d be manually masturbated by the doctor as a remedy for my anxiety or depression. Now, I just had to sit in front of this shrink and talk about it.

“You don’t like me very much, do you?” he asked.

Wow, the dim bulb flickered. “I don’t like what you represent, doc. Do you think you’re going to cure me of my desire? If you do, you’re the one who’s mad.”

“Lena … sorry—look, I know you’re not happy about coming to see me, and you’re only doing it to appease your husband, but you have a legitimate problem.” He paused to wipe his upper lip with a handkerchief. “My apologies, it’s quite warm in here today. I—”

“Cut the bullshit, doc. It’s no warmer than usual for a Tennessee summer day. You have some nerve telling me I have a problem. I think I turn you on, don’t I?”

His face went ashen and he began stuttering incoherently.

I offered a coy smile. I’d known from day one what his weakness was. From the stark appearance in his office, lack of family photos, and no wedding band, it wasn’t difficult to guess that he was unmarried and likely a virgin. The fact that he would counsel me on becoming a righteous woman was laughable, and now I’d confirmed what I had suspected all along—he had a Mommy complex.

“Doc,” I said calmly, now almost feeling sorry for him, “you need to pull yourself together. It’s not very professional of you to have your tongue hanging out.”

“Mrs. Robinson! I don’t think I can see you anymore.” He got up, walked over to his desk, and shuffled papers. “I’m going to recommend another doctor immediately.” Scribbling on a notepad, he thrust a piece of paper in my face—all the while, avoiding eye contact.

I looked at the note. It was the name of another doctor. Getting up slowly from my seat, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with this young, small-framed man. “You know doc … I was just beginning to like you.”

“Please leave,” he said, his eyes looking toward the door.

I picked up my purse and left his office. Once outside, I crumpled the piece of paper he’d given me and threw it in the garbage. Another shrink conquered—my dear husband will surely be mad.

* * * *

This story is included in a collection called  HOT FLASH, now available 

Amazon US  ~ Amazon UK



Filed under Short Stories & Poetry

26 responses to ““I’m Not Mad, I’m Hysterical”

  1. Love it, Eden. That was a great read.




  2. Eden, what fun. I had a husband like that for a very SHORT period of time. He was going to “cure” me of wanting sex. Whatever! I left him behind and never looked back. Really!

    Your story struck a raw nerve after 31 years and I was taken aback but at the same time I loved your story. Thanks for sharing your art.




  3. Eden,

    A wonderful read and I look forward to more writings/readings from you! Awaken the lioness within!


  4. I loved the story and Lena’s urges seem normal to me. Intelligence and sexual appetite will win every time. But why is the south always picked to show ignorance?

    You’re very good at what you do, Eden!


  5. Wow, I can’t believe that is it is based on a actual law. Though I shouldn’t be surprised.

    An excellent story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading! Now I have to go listen to it.


  6. Thanks for sharing the story Eden. I enjoyed reading it.


  7. L.M. Stull

    Oh em gee, I love this one, Eden! Lena is my kind of lady – snarky and sexy!

    Fantastic job, my breautiful friend 🙂



  8. Very entertaining. I love Lena’s straightforward, no BS attitude.

    “I read. Just because I don’t have letters after my name doesn’t mean I’m ill-informed.”

    Great line! Cheers!



  9. I love the oppressiveness. The idea that women shouldn’t enjoy or want sex was a real idea in history. Heck, the way we keep the topic so taboo at times gives the impression we’re stuck in the past.

    Gosh, I hope I’m not raising my girls in ignorance. On the other hand, I worry I talk too much.

    A month or so ago, I brought up sex — again — with my daughters. My oldest (now 18 and out of the house) turned to my youngest (14) and asked, has Mom given you the masturbation talk yet?

    I’m thinking, WTH? masturbation talk? Who talks to their kids about masturbation? That’s just plain weird.

    Then my daughter goes on to explain the importance of “knowing” your body. If you don’t know your body, you’ll have a difficult time expressing your likes and dislikes to your partner.

    Uh… Okay… maybe I did have the masturbation talk with her. It’s exactly something I’d want to say to my daughters and think about saying but having to work up the nerve to get it out. Apparently I did have the nerve at one point.

    Funny… with all the sex talk in my house, my daughters still claim to be sexually INactive. They both have safe sex plans if the time should come. They have intelligent responses to questions I ask. Some of their responses make me feel stupid just for asking. Other times, I’m absolutely SHOCKED they’d take such an active role in their sexual health.

    I have a tendency to ramble. Love the idea of others trying to stifle your character, yet she’s strong enough to do what’s best for her.


  10. Wow, mega comment, thanks Reena! I couldn’t agree more regarding the importance of talking about sex and knowing your body. I was brought up having to learn about sex on my own. It was never discussed in my family, nor was there sex education in school.

    Your daughters highlight a vital point —”knowing” about sex does not equal becoming sexually active. Knowledge is the power to make choices— to do it with common sense as opposed to ignorance. Perhaps because your daughters have that awareness, they are in no rush to become active.

    You’ve brought them up well, Reena, regardless if you remember it or not! You must be sooooo proud!

    Thanks for sharing such a great lesson, and for your kind words about my story.



  11. Alix Cameron

    Absolutely fantastic!


  12. Jane

    Fantastic, loved how this story tied in some of the prudish attitudes some people have!


  13. Alix Cameron

    Fantastic story, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you very much.


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