(Miss Glottis, please transcribe and file the following tape of my recent consultation with Mr. Swift. Uh, strike that, Miss Glottis. Don't use the patient's name. File this under "Patient X, Curious Compulsion of . . ." Date it the day after Thanksgiving. Patient X appeared for his 3 o'clock appointment and the following dialogue took place:)
"What's on your mind, Mr. X?""Well, Dr. Enzyme, I sometimes . . . uh . . . I wonder if I'm, uh, what you shrinks call, uh, abnormal."
"Normal may be in the eye of the beholder. Just what makes you question your behavior?"
"Well, doc, it's just that I like to . . . I hate to talk about this."
"Just say what's on your mind."
"Um, did I hear you correctly? Did you say . . ."
"Leftovers. I said leftovers."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Leftovers. Common, ordinary leftovers. What's left over after dinner. You look in the fridge, and like, there are saucers and plastic dishes containing leftovers."
"How do, ah, leftovers, relate to your, ha-ha, abnormality?"
(Miss Glottis, strike the ha-ha when you transcribe. It wouldn't look good in the Journal of Psychiatric Studies and Cuckoo People.)
"I hate to come right out and talk about it, but the holiday season is my worst time, doc. I wonder if I'm the only one who . . . you see, I like leftovers better than the original dinner."
"You don't say."
"For instance, I like Thanksgiving leftovers better than Thanksgiving dinner. At Thanksgiving, you know, there's always the company, and hustle and bustle in the kitchen and lots of conversation at the table, and maybe some wine, you know, and sometimes you sort of forget to really taste your food. But the next day, ah! To me, the stuffing seems even better the next day. And the gravy, too, heated up. And leftover cole slaw and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, too! And, lawd a'mercy, that rutabaga just gets better and better. And after that first, blessed reprise of Thanksgiving dinner, I begin salivating for turkey tetrazzini and club sandwiches and . . . you know what I mean? No, of course not. You're normal."
"Don't be embarrassed, Mr. X."
"If it was just Thanksgiving, I wouldn't be so worried. But there's more. Take ham, for instance."
"The haunch of a pig. Ham."
"Just let your thoughts flow."
"Well, you take a succulent, baked ham, scored and basted with pineapple and brown sugar and maybe orange juice, crispy on the outside but tender and pale pink all the way through."
"Please go on."
"Well, I love it. It's just that . . . "
"Out with it, man."
" . . . I like it even better the next day! Oh, the thinny-thin slices of that leftover ham, piled on a thick sandwich. Rye bread, Swiss cheese, hot mustard, a big kosher pickle, a cold, frosty beer and football on TV! You see what I mean? That leftover ham is better than the original."
(Notation: Has patient some sublimation anxiety with respect to swine?)
"But it's not just ham. It's anything. Chili, for instance. You know, you cook up a big pot of beans, meat, garlic, onions, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, cumin, chili powder . . . and you let that pot of chili simmer and you serve it, maybe with some cheese on top and some chopped onion, and taco chips. Man, that's a feast. But . . ."
"Leftover spaghetti sauce. Cold, leftover pasta, curled like plastic in a dish. Mix it up and heat it in the microwave - boy, has the microwave changed the entire philosophy of eating leftovers!"
"So, you like all leftovers better than the originals, correct?"
"Well, maybe not salad. Or waffles. I've tried them, but after they lie there in the syrup they just sort of, dissolve, you know? Am I normal, doctor?
"You seem normal in all respects. Say, Bob, I mean, Mr. X., have you tried leftover mashed potatoes? What you do is, you make potato pancakes, with chopped onion and a bit of egg, see? Talk about good!"
"Why, that does sound good, doc. I'll try some when I get home."
"No need to wait! Let me offer you a plateful. I have a whole trunk full of potato pancakes right here beside my couch."
(Miss Glottis, please omit the last remarks before transcribing. Then come into my office. I have a drawer full of blackened redfish, left over from the '80s. We'll share.)