I had taken a job working for a psychiatrist even though I hadn't even met the psychiatrist I had been hired by his assistant, a woman probably in her mid 40s. I was now going to meet the psychiatrist for the first time. As I sat in his office in a room which resembled the kitchen of the Gay Street House, the psychiatrist walked in and began talking with the woman who had hired me. He was a tall thin black-haired man strong and healthy (probably in his late 30s).
His assistant began talking about the criminal record of another girl who worked for the psychiatrist. I had the feeling that a person's past wasn't held against a person here; thus I wasn't particularly bothered when the assistant pointed to me, indicated I had been hired, and mentioned I had been in jail five times.
The psychiatrist looked at me as if he were intrigued, as if he wanted to hear more. I began talking; I asked if he wanted to hear the story of my life. I told him the tale was rather long because I was 49 years old; I asked if he wanted the condensed version or the complete version. He spoke; he told me I shouldn't use the word "condensed" when referring to the story of my life. Apparently he thought the word had a demeaning connotation in this context. Sensing he wanted to hear my story, I began.
Since the focus seemed to be on the times I had been in jail, I thought he wanted to hear all the aspects of my life which might be considered negative by society. I began by telling him I had first started drinking beer when I had been 12 years old. I could still remember the first time the day when my junior-high school classmate, Stevens, and I had stolen one of my father's beers from the refrigerator of the kitchen of the Gay Street House. I told the psychiatrist that shortly thereafter I had begun smoking marijuana, that I had liked marijuana, that I had liked it a lot, and that I had smoked a lot. And then I had started taking LSD. I had loved LSD.
I explained that I had also begun stealing small things. I specifically remembered one incident. I had had a newspaper route for about a year. On the route I had had two or three newspaper machines. After I had given up the route, I had retained the keys to the machines, and two or three times I had used the keys to open the machines to steal the money out of the machines.
All the while I had been talking, the psychiatrist had been walking back and forth across the room, as if he might be impatient. Sensing the need to hurry, I jumped forward in my story to the time I had met Birdie. I had thought she had been so beautiful; but now that I looked back through the years, she didn't seem quite so beautiful after all.
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