Most of us do panic. Most of us will never admit it. I recall an especially poignant case, that of James M., a short-time member of our fellowship whom I met in an airport. He had no book with him; I was pleased to see that, and remarked on it to him. He said "Yeah, I had one but I left it at home." "That's progress, James. Glad to see it," I congratulated him. Yet I noticed a tic in his eye as he spoke, and his hand kept traveling to his coat pocket, the notorious "book pocket" most of us have. "Are you sure you don't miss the book a little, James?" I asked. "It's OK to admit to your fear, you know . . ." "Oh, I'm not afraid," he said quickly. "I don't miss it at all, in fact. I don't need it." "You look a bit panicky, James. Sure you don't want to talk about it?" He wheeled to my face. "I'M FINE, GODDAMNIT! NOW FUCK OFF!! Oh, sorry . . ."

I thought it better to leave. Some denial just can't be broken, like Bill's denial of his academic status. (It's not denial. It's just not true, that's all. BK) I later saw James in the airport bookshop, buying a book of Dr. Wayne Dyer's. Self-help tripe. Not what he wanted, but a nice fix to hold off the shakes until he could get to his conference for a better one. Sad case. I haven't seen him at a meeting in weeks, now.

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Copywrong 1993 Doug Robinson and Bill Kaul