the woody allen disorder

I wish I could say I thought of this eponymous pathology on my own, but it was my husband who recently diagnosed me and I’ve got to say, I’m impressed that he was able to point out and label my condition, considering its convoluted nature.

Primarily, the Woody Allen disorder has to do with putting yourself in an awkward situation for the drama, the unknown, the excitement, and above all, the chaos these things bring. Letting stuff just happen might be another way to put it.

I have a penchant for the chaos as much as I have an aversion to it. Angling myself in predicaments just for the sake of dealing with them is something I’ve sort of mastered over the years. But I usually bail out just before things get completely beyond my control. Because for me, it’s about the taste and not the mastication.

The circumstances surrounding my annual “check-up” are what prompted me to ponder a condition that I thought had died in my early twenties. Once a year, I choose to unveil my naked body to a man other than my husband, that fellow, of course, being my doctor.

Year after year—it’s been about five now—as I sit at the end of his examination table, with my bare legs flirtatiously dangling over the edge, and paper sticking to my sweat drenched thighs, I wonder what exactly I’m doing there.

Growing up I never understood why my mother had a male doctor. I determined, therefore, early on that I would only have female physicians, and at first I did. It was eventually my hypochondria that brought me to him. He was an endocrinologist and I thought I had a thyroid problem, not to mention an overactive adrenal gland. I have an HMO, so I figured I’d cut out the middleman and have him be my primary care physician, as well. In making this sound decision, I completely forgot about the whole nudity thing and just how hyper-sexually aware I am.

As we were breathing cheek to cheek, while he inspected my pupils and his warm, antiseptic breath pervaded my nostrils, I started to consider what must be going through his brain, and other organs for that matter. Who ever said that doctors aren't men and don't have the same urges? "Don't worry, I've seen everything" they joke as if that's supposed to put you at ease. It only makes me think they are even more of a pervert, probably keeping a roster of all the peculiarities they witness, which they then share at dinner parties with their colleagues.

Admittedly, I am prone to paranoia, so I could be imagining all this, but ever since I got married, my relationship with my doctor has changed drastically. He spends more time on the breast exam and less time humoring my questions about diabetes insipidus and impetigo. Still, I can’t bear to cease the relationship, and I actually take great pleasure in the real or imagined tension between us.

It sort of reminds me of the time I went to my English professor’s (from the previous semester—this wasn’t about grades) house to watch a movie. I wasn’t attracted to him, and I had a boyfriend. I simply liked the idea of going to my English Professor’s house to watch a movie.

Although he had a big screen TV in the living room, the VCR was conveniently hooked up to the smaller set in the boudoir. As we watched the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was sitting on the bed with my former professor, who by the way, was in his late fifties and I couldn’t even drink alcohol legally. Come to think of it, I may have been reeling from the influence of Juliette Lewis’ character, Rain in Husbands and Wives, which, incidentally, came out earlier that year.

Nothing ever happened between us. But just imagining what he might be imagining was enough to send me into a stilted frenzy. We saw a couple of more movies together, this time in public, which was even more gratifying because now it wasn’t only what was going on in our own respective heads, but moreover, in the heads of others that was titillating.

Finally, I stopped calling him and he was probably relieved. We both had our internalized fun, I suppose. Hell, he could have had his very own Woody Allen disorder, which may had been why he liked me. He probably got the same sordid pleasure out of nothing situations that could be something, but don’t have to be, because at least they are something in your head.

In fact, the Woody Allen disorder reminds me of a dream that you think is lucid. You are pretty sure it’s a dream—so you have fun with it— behave bolder and more impetuously. And then you get to that point—in the dream—when you say, “oh shit, this isn’t a dream, what do I do now?” All of a sudden, you play it safe. And then it happens again, you are reminded that yes, this is a dream, and are given carte blanche to go wild. This roller coaster ride usually goes on until you are woken up and—in the safety of your own consciousness—wish you were having fun again being chased by that scary, gigantic moth. I guess there are just some things--much like a good Woody Allen movie--we never grow out of.

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