We wiped away our tears, signaling the end of our counseling session.
“I just want to say,” her voice was the exact same tone and volume that it always is, “that you guys make perfect sense.”
My eyes flew from my twiddling thumbs to his face. His lips twitched as he tried to suppress a smile. We held each other’s gaze for a moment, the silent laughter dancing between us across the facing chairs. For an instant, we shared a secret joke.
But I’ve never had a secret thought in my life.
“We think you say that to everyone,” I blurted.
Her perfectly serene expression wavered ever so slightly. She almost looked confused, except that she would never dare to show that much emotion in front of us.
“You always say that. ‘You make perfect sense’.” I bobbed my head back and forth to drive home the point that I was mimicking her. “We’ve been trying to figure out if you say that to everyone, or if we’re really especially awesome.”
“Well,” she pulled her cardigan tighter around herself and regained her composure, “I do say that to everyone.”
“I knew it!” I was triumphant. Jared was silent and checking for exit routes.
“My husband actually teases me about it; he says it’s my catch phrase. But I wholeheartedly believe that every couple does make perfect sense.”
A short list of couples popped in my head and I imagined parading them in front of her to see if her theory would hold up. For some reason the idea of trampling on her optimism amused me.
“I never say something if I don’t mean it though,” she assured us. “But I really do believe that you guys make sense. And Jared,” she turned to my silent husband, “you were very, very brave today.”
I made a note to remind him later that she probably says that to everyone too. Except me. She never tells me I’m brave, I realized. Maybe she only says that to the men.
We wrote the check and gathered our things and headed out the door.
“Be good to each other,” she called after us. I took Jared’s hand as we left the building, the way I always do when she says that.
“Our counselor has a catch phrase!” I said as we walked to the parking lot.
“I know,” said Jared.
“And it’s such a cool catch phrase. I want a catch phrase!”
“All of my catch phrases suck. Like ‘That’s what I do!’. That’s what I say whenever I’ve done something shitty. You know, so I don’t have to worry about like not being shitty in the future or something.”
“Yeah, I know.”
We got in the car and headed home, both of us, I’m sure, trying to imagine what our own catch phrases would be.
“I think our counselor is going to be on Dr. Phil someday,” Jared said. “She’s going to be on TV saying ‘You make perfect sense’.”
“I’m going to tell everyone we know her.”
“Maybe you should just steal her catch phrase,” Jared laughed. “You know, it’d be a great title for a book. Are there laws or anything about stealing someone’s catch phrase?”
“I don’t know.”
“You probably wouldn’t find out until you were on Oprah or something.”
“Yeah, there’s something especially shitty about stealing your marriage counselor’s catch phrase I think. I need to just come up with my own.”
And so I’ve been thinking about it.
Because in between writing about celebrities and hotels and weight loss surgery, my mind wanders to things like what would be a cool catch phrase. So far, everything I’ve come up with is politically incorrect or socially insensitive, like my tendency to call people retarded. I’m pretty sure Oprah, and most of my friends, would frown on my liberal use of the R word.
I don’t think Fuck can be considered a catch phrase. And my grandmother hates that word. If I ever manage to get on Oprah, I’d like it if my grandmother could actually watch. Not that she would, but it’s nice to keep that option open.
Lately I’ve been finding I say “my therapist says” a lot, but I don’t think that’s a catch phrase so much as a really annoying habit that I’ll soon be using to explain why my friends have stopped calling.
I got nothing. It’s been a week since our counselor admitted that she sometimes talks to us in cliches, and I still haven’t been able to come up with one of my own.
I’m taking suggestions.