Wednesday, May 22, 2013

cheers to the sane

Have you lost a loved one?  Lost weight?  Eaten too much?  Thought about pain?  Have trouble remembering the names of the seven dwarfs?

Well, you may be nuts.  You had best start setting aside a portion of your income for the rest of your life. 

Because there is a therapist out there in your future -- with bottles full of pills and a new copy of the just-issued fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Or DSM-5, as it is tagged  by its wielders.

It was probably inevitable that we would all end up in a therapist's office pouring out our anguish about having to face what we once called life.  But why therapists?

Not too long ago we would discuss these issues with our spouses, our family, our friends, our pastors.  Even our buddies in the bowling league -- or down at the Elks lodge.  But we have stopped talking to them.  Either because we no longer belong to groups or we spend so much time staring at television and computer screens we do not have time for relationships.

So we hire a professional.  Pay good money to make ourselves simply feel better.  We once called that prostitution.  We now call it therapy.

That is not to say that there are not real problems out there that can be reached through therapy.  But DSM-5 is a clear imperial clarion call that the beaches of sanity must be taken in the name of weekly sessions.

At some level, "Sometimes you want to go/where everybody knows your name."  Like the little restaurant/bar -- La Oficina -- that opened in my neighborhood recently.

The owner, Aaron, is one of the first people I met when I moved to Melaque.  At the time, he was running a restaurant with a great view of Melaque's square.  He is one of the few young Americans I have met who have decided to make their future in Mexico.  It did not hurt that he was also an Oregonian.

He now has a new place.  And he appears to have hit on an interesting formula for success.  A bar that could be at home in a tropical boutique hotel.  A short menu where each item is given extra care (my favorite being the rosemary pulled pork sandwich).  And an efficient staff that speaks just enough English to make customers feel comfortable with their own creaky Spanish.

There are lots of eateries in town.  But La Oficina seems to pull each of its business plan elements together until "you are glad you came."

What makes it all work is Aaron.  He is the perfect bartender.  Charming.  A great listener.  And a dispenser of folk wisdom.  Wrapped in enough charisma to keep his mix of elderly expatriates and edgy young Mexicans coming back for more.

I stopped by this past weekend to enjoy the last live music act until fall.  Live music always gives a place extra points on my card.  Even if it inevitably attracts at least one drunk who starts acting -- loudly -- as if the staff is her personal entourage.  But when a place is as good as La Oficina, The Drunk can be ignored.

I suspect far fewer people would be spending time watching a therapist thumb through the DSM-5 if they would simply spend more time with the Aarons of this world.  With a nice Diet Coke sitting in front of them.

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