In 1970, John Lennon spent a few months undergoing a controversial mental health treatment known as Primal Therapy. I learned this while reading through a Beatles biography one day in a book store.
When I came home I glanced at the Primal Therapy Wikipedia page for two seconds, and came to the conclusion that the treatment was, essentially, screaming a lot. Under the supervision of their psychologists, patients would apparently have extended screaming sessions, designed at accessing buried emotions and undoing the damage caused by childhood traumas.
This was an utterly false interpretation of the therapy on my part; it's actually much different than that. But still...I was intrigued. Not really because I thought the treatment would be effective, but moreso because I couldn't figure out a way to try it. When can you just start screaming for no reason? Even alone in your house, it’s an irresponsible thing to do. The more I thought about it, the more confounded I became, and the more the idea intrigued me.
One day sometime later I was sitting at work, and I realized something. At the time, I worked as an attendant at an Amoco/BP gas station. This was a great job for a lot of reasons, chief of which was that I worked alone. As this was a self-service station, the place pretty much ran itself, and only needed one employee at any given time to oversee its operation. I sat in a booth at the center of the station reading books and watching TV, often going 30 minutes between customers. It was a great job. And, as I realized on this beautiful saturday morning, it was also a great place to start fucking screaming.
Here I was: alone in a tiny booth, enclosed in thick bullet-proof glass, with a near-360 degree view of the surrounding area. If ever there was a time for this, it was now.
I was tentative at first. Screaming is a bit like being naked. It's liberating and embarrassing at the same time. Also, though I checked around many times for potential witnesses, I was still terrified of getting caught, and that made it difficult to fully let loose at first. Still, it didn't take long for the opening jitters to pass. Once I got two or three test screams under my belt, I threw caution to the wind and shot for maximum volume. Problem is, that's not an easy thing to do. No matter how loud I got it always seemed like I could push it further, and so a cycle developed: I'd scream like a maniac for a few seconds, stop myself, decide it wasn't loud enough, then immediately try to top it, never feeling totally satisfied. It became like a game, and it was actually kind of fun.
Until someone caught me.
She made her presence known by slamming her fists into the booth's bolted iron door. The sound was so startling I wanted to scream. Except, you know. Instead, stopping dead mid-shout, I jumped out of my seat, and turned my head sharply in the direction of the disturbance. There, outside the window, I saw an irate black girl pointing and yelling at me. She was in such a rage I could barely make out what she was saying, but I could pick out words like “freak” and “loser.” Her friend stood 10 feet behind her, arms crossed, waiting out the girl’s tantrum.
I sat frozen in my seat, staring blankly at them. What does one do in this situation? I'd just been caught, at work, screaming repeatedly by myself for no reason. Raise your hand if that's ever happened to you. No, there was no choice but to sit there and wait for her to get it out of her system. Fortunately, that happened after only about 10 more seconds. Deeming me sufficiently berated, I guess, she kicked the door a final time and stormed off.
Now, as you can imagine, I was very embarrassed by all this. But some part of me couldn't help but feel a little proud too. I mean, think about it: this girl was walking past the station, spotted me, and was so disturbed by the weirdness of my behavior, that it actually made her fucking FURIOUS. Not creeped out. Not confused. Not scared. No. FURIOUS.
Ladies and gentlemen...
Let's get that weird tonight.