Excerpt from Young Adults, by Daniel M. Pinkwater

The kid whose appointment preceded the first of the Dharma Ducks had an interesting problem. It appeared that he was in the habit of crawling inside his gym locker, pulling the door shut after him, and making moaning noises, thus frightening the other students. A rumor that the locker room was haunted had gotten started, and many of the students were upset. This, while primitive, showed a certain inventiveness. It might have been worthwhile to turn him on to Zen - but he went to another school. Besides the Dharma Ducks were intent on the direction the psychiatric interview was taking. It was not going well for the kid, whose name was Richard F. Scott, of 5235 Pearl Street.

Dr. Mendoza wanted to know if he masturbated when he hid in the gym locker. Richard said that he did not. Dr. Mendoza explained that it was all right to tell her things like that. She said that their conversation was entirely confidential, and that nothing he said would go beyond that room. We listened to this with interest. Then she asked him if he didn't masturbate when he was in the gym locker. Richard repeated that he did no such thing. I believed him.

"Look, Richard, if we are going to help you you're just going to have to trust me," Dr. Mendoza said. "Now, there's nothing wrong with masturbating. Everybody does it. Now, wouldn't you feel better if you just admitted that the reason you get inside the gym locker is so you can masturbate?"

Richard stuck to his guns. He was starting to cry. He swore that the only reason he got inside his gym locker was to make ghostly noises. Dr. Mendoza said that he was resisting the treatment, and that she'd have to write that in her report to his parents and to the school.

"I thought everything we said in this room was confidential," Richard F. Scott blubbered.

"We're trying to help you, Richard, if you'd only let us," Dr. Mendoza said. Then Richard's fifteen minutes were up. He looked shaken when he came through the waiting room. The Dharma Ducks gave him the thumbs-up sign, but there was no cheering up Richard F. Scott of 5235 Pearl Street. Then it was Igor's turn.

"Well, Maurice, why did you shave your head?" Dr. Mendoza asked.

Maurice is Igor's slave name.

"We all did it," Igor said. "We were just kidding around."

"You know, a great many young people are getting involved with cults these days," Dr. Mendoza said. "You aren't involved in something like that, are you - you and your friends? You can tell me anything."

"Naw," Igor said.

"Maurice, how do you and your friends spend your time?"

"Uh. Well, it's embarrassing - can I talk about it?"

"Of course. Everything we say in this room stays in this room. You can talk about anything, Maurice."

"Well, we like to buy magazines, uh, with pictures of naked ladies, and uh, then we..."

"You masturbate?"

"Uh, Yeah."

"Now, Maurice, I want you to know that is perfectly normal for a boy of your age. There is nothing abnormal about masturbating. You don't have to feel guilty or embarrassed, okay?"


"How many times a day would you say you masturbate, Maurice?"

"Fifteen, maybe twenty times."

"As much as that? Well, you are a healthy and well-adjusted boy, Maurice. And now you know that you don't have to feel guilty about it, right?"

"I thought I did. I thought I had to feel guilty about it."

"No, Maurice, you're just fine - just a fine, healthy young boy. Don't you worry about anything, okay?"


"And you won't upset Mr. Gerstenblut by doing silly things like shaving your head anymore, will you?"

"No, ma'am."

"And when you get an impulse to do something silly like that, what will you do instead?"


"That's right, Maurice! It's been a pleasure to meet you. Now, please send the next boy in."

Igor was brilliant. It was all we could do not to break into applause.

The interviews of the rest of the Dharma Ducks were more of less identical to Igor's, except that Captain Colossal told Dr. Mendoza that he masturbated thirty times a day. Of course, in his case it was the truth.

-From "Young Adults" by Daniel M. Pinkwater.
Published by Tor Books. ISBN: 0-812-51519-6.

I give it two thumbs up, by the way.


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