I usually laugh at the absurdity of the US Weekly heading “Stars… They’re Just Like Us” where they have candid pictures of celebrities doing “common people” things…. Drew Barrymore sneezes…. Jake Gyllenhal picks up dry cleaning…. Courteney Cox goes to Starbucks. As if I’m supposed to feel better that they run errands too. But sometimes, I actually think that just maybe, I am like Hollywood’s elite in more way than one…

“Stars… They’re Just Like Us.”

Last night, I was sneaky, calculating, and stealth. I was greedy, invasive and possibly inappropriate. I was like paparazzi without a camera. A reporter without a credible lead. A detective without evidence. And I … was at…. Therapy.

The truth is, it’d probably be less embarrassing to say that my behavior all took place within my weekly session (in which I divulge personal and harrowing accounts of my life… like the weird look I got from the woman in line that made me think of how I got lost at the supermarket when I was 3…how my husband’s hair on the sink drives me nuts… how my mom needed to borrow my cuisinart. You know, really, really deep deep stuff that only a licensed professional can help analyze and resolve).

I see a wonderful, kind, sweet therapist in Beverly Hills. Been seeing M for about 3 years. Every so often, while I’m waiting to be seen, I can hear muffled voices coming from her office. It’s usually a male’s voice (and hers- soft, patient, reassuring). I acknowledge that she’s probably in session and it’d be rude of me to really really try to strain my neck closer to the wall to listen to what they talk about. (Because let’s be honest, chances are his problems are bigger than mine.) So I don’t strain- all the time. But recently, and don’t ask me why it took three years to realize this, I noticed that when their session ends, they say their goodbyes and then I hear doors close and NO ONE walks back out into the waiting room. I was baffled. I had to ask…

I walked into M’s office and inquired about this peculiar door/non-door thing. I was honest(ish). I told her I’ve heard voices (the non diagnosable kind) and doors slam and no one comes through the waiting room. She sort of laughed and said that many of her clients uses “the other door.” The other door? Like a secret door!? How exciting, I thought. M tells me: She and her associates coordinate patient schedules so that no two patients will be in and out of the office at the same time, AND when the session is over, they leave through an “exit” door down the hall- that way they don’t have to encounter anyone in the waiting room. M then added, “Plus, it’s Beverly Hills. We sometimes have ‘high profile’ patients …. Some of them don’t want to be seen. They worry people will recognize them… Some of them won’t even use the exit door. They exit thru my office which leads into the hall.”

What?! An exit EXIT door?? Who the hell are her clients?! I started racking my brain for all the celebrities that clearly have issues. Britney Spears: Oy. She’s a clinical dream and nightmare rolled in to one. Brooke Shields: She was like a spokesperson for depression. And for sure she councils Katie Holmes: M specializes in anxiety. Silent Birth. Need I say more?

As we started in to our session, and began to talk about the problem du jour, my wild imagination started to fade and like any good narcissist, I began to focus on myself. M is that good. Our session ended and I exited M’s office. I was faced with the hallway. One door leading to the waiting room the other to the private exit door, which M, by the way had encouraged me to use from now on if I’d like.

I walked down the hall wondering if M was watching me go. I wondered if it would it say something horrible about my mental state if I went back out through the waiting room? I mean, I had been doing it for years and never had an uncomfortable encounter. Wait. There was literally ONE time, and one time only that I did walk out after a session and saw this girl, probably my age, crying hysterically. I don’t know if she was there to see M, but like the fucked up little starlets, her problems are probably way worse than mine and I felt great because of it. But I digress…

So two doors at therapy: which one do you choose? (It’s like a metaphor.) And I being the V.I.P that I am, chose the private exit. I turned the corner and there I was. The private exit. I don’t know what I was expecting to see… Maybe headshots with autographs like at the dry cleaners. “To the best therapist on south Beverly Drive… With Love, Lonnie Anderson.” But alas, no headshots and no velvet ropes. Just a hallway with big metal file cabinets, probably holding one of my files: “Crazy.”

I exited the very unglamorous secret exit and walked out in to the “common people” hallway. How sad, I thought, for the people that only have one choice, one hallway in their lives. I’m so blessed. As I waited for the elevator, I felt like someone was watching me. I turned and noticed that the cleaning crew, was watching me leave. Hmm. Of course. They’re checking me out because I could be famous. If I’m the famous 8:30pm client, then I can only imagine who her 7:30 client is…

Wait. WHO IS HER 7:30 client? She said something about “he” using her private entrance because “the other private entrance isn’t even private enough.” Alec Baldwin? Hey, anger management is becoming trendy. Could be a possibility. Brad Pitt-When he’s not in Namibia or taking care of Maddox? Isiah Washington? He got kicked off the best medical drama like EVER. Okay, I thought. The possibilities are endless and there is only one way to find out who the mystery therapy celeb is: WAIT FOR HIM.

I decided that for my next session, I’d get there early and “casually” wait in the hallway, the common hallway, that is, because there’s only one way to get to the elevator. But the following week, I got there late and my plot was foiled. Over the weeks that followed, I admit, with each session I got lazy in my investigation and chose to read Psychology Today over stalking M’s last patient. Ha. How appropriate.

But last night, as I flipped through People magazine in the calm and peaceful waiting room, I heard “the voices.” He left her office. If he goes out the secret secret secret door in her office then I’m fucked and can’t see him. But if he goes out my secret exit than there’s a chance. THINK FAST. I grabbed my cell phone, instinctively dialed my husband and swung the waiting room door open to the common hallway. I stood in the doorway “on the phone” as if I didn’t want to disturb “the others” in the (empty) waiting room and as if I’d “lose the call” if I went too far from the cell range. Damn I was good. This was improv acting at it’s finest. I hear a door open and close. HE’S ABOUT TO OPEN THE SECOND DOOR TO THE COMMON HALLWAY. Door opens. THERE IS HE IS. THE FAMOUS GUY THAT GETS HIS HEAD SHRUNK BY MY VERY OWN SHRINK. He smiles at me and continues down the hall to the elevator. I quickly finish “my phone call” and go back into the waiting room. WHO THE HELL WAS IT? Not handsome. Looks familiar. Dressed conservatively- kind of dorky even. Tall. Dark hair. Normal looking – in a dorky grown up way. Looks familiar… Familiar. Suddenly DUSTIN DIAMOND comes to mind. Is it possible?? THAT was Dustin Diamond? SCREECH?! FROM SAVED BY THE BELL?! OH MY GOD. I THINK IT IS. I THINK IT WAS SCREECH FROM SAVED BY THE FUCKING BELL. Can you imagine what that life must be like for him? He’s a “has been!” I felt so bad for the guy. His problems are way worse than mine. And suddenly, it dawned on me, even Dustin Diamond needs his privacy. No more stalking for me. No more wondering for me. Therapy should just be therapy. And everyone should have that right. It’s not about glitz , glamour, or gossip. SHAME ON ME.

d I mention that Sandra Oh thanked an “M” during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes? Thanked her for being her “rock.” “M” is my rock too. Oh, stars, they’re just like us…. I hope.

FILED UNDER: A Little Life

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