“Can you remember the first time you felt you were ‘born under a bad sign’, as you put it?”
Ramblin’ Hambone stroked his chin, grizzled and covered with grey stubble, and stared unblinking at the community college certificates on Debbie’s wall. The room was furnished like a living room, with three chairs in the center facing together, and multi-cultural artwork, seemingly picked out without any attempt at cohesion, decorated the walls and bookcases.
“Yuhh….I’ve been down since I began to crawl,” he croaked, and began to turn up the volume knob on the battered Gibson Firebird electric guitar on his knee.
“Mr. Hambone? Maybe no guitar during the sessions, so we concentrate on just talking please?” Debbie patiently asked, her long, straight, salt and pepper hair pulled back. She wore a Sanskrit “Om” pendant around her skinny neck. “Thank you. Now, tell me more about your childhood please.”
“I ain’t nothin’ but a country boy, driftin’ from town to town. Said I ain’t nothin’ but a country boy, driftin’ from town to town, have mercy.”
“Now, do you often repeat yourself? Do you feel that people are not listening to you?” she asked in response.
“Now when I was a young boy, at the age of five. My mother said I was gonna be the greatest man alive. But now I’m a man, way past 21. Want you to believe me baby, I had lots of fun.”
Debbie jotted down a note on the notepad on her knee with a pencil. “The expectations of others can be a trigger for depression, and it’s not uncommon for people to cope by self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, and sexual promiscuity,” she confirmed. “Oh, and please call me Deborah or Debbie. ‘Baby’ is not appropriate for a therapeutic relationship.”
“I got a little red rooster, too lazy to crow for day. Oh, I got a little red rooster too lazy to crow for day. Keep everything in the barnyard upset in every way.”
“Ok, so sometimes you have difficulty getting out of bed? Depression can have a serious impact on our productivity. And do you ever have any feelings of hopelessness?”
“The thrill is gone away. The thrill is gone away for good” Ramblin’ stated bleakly.
“Well you woke up one morning to learn that your girlfriend left you, you have no money or job, and it’s flooding where you live. Those are some major life events,” said Debbie with genuine empathy, nodding her head gently and grimacing at RH. “Why, it’s no wonder you have ‘the blues’!” She added air quotes to that last phrase.
“Next week we can pick up where we left off and maybe go over some coping strategies that don’t involve whiskey, cigarettes, or shooting your woman down? Ooh I almost forgot! There’s the matter of the copay. Who is your insurance provider?”
“Yaw…mmm…lessee what I got down heauh,” muttered Ramblin’ Hambone as he slowly fished through the pockets of his worn-out trousers, finding a flask, a few guitar picks, loose change, and a hound’s tooth in a small flannel bag– apparently a hoodoo talisman – before coming upon a bent plastic card.
He squinted at the card for a moment. “It’s Blues Cross of Alabama.”
“BLUE Cross,” she corrected him, “but that’s fine. I take that.”