Author's Note * This review disguised as a story continues the Perils of Freudine where we left off last time in my review for The Diet Cure. It should be further noted that I read the Everyman edition of Candide And Other Stories, translated from the French, with a thoughtful introduction and notes, by Roger Pearson, that discusses the themes of each story. The other much shorter three stories about aliens on Earth talking with scientists with the journey theme and such are not therapeutic, are darker and not as fun as Candide. The Ingenu, for example, suggests that evil may "ennoble" people by testing their sense of reason and compassion. "It is an ill wind that blows no good" is a gem from that story.
I hope my story illustrates that Voltaire's philosophy is amply accessible and applicable for today's discerning reader. As silly as Candide can be, perhaps I can make the review as silly! *
I let out a disgusted sigh and turn back to my office. Eying the two occupants, one of which returns my stare unblinking, I close the door and wonder if I've slipped into an alternate dimension or my mind has lost a screw this afternoon.
"Doc babe, don't look so ill. We're not tryin' to cramp your style," the bold, funky-looking woman blurts.
"That's right. All is for the best as we sail forth into new adventures," murmurs the doe-eyed model with an innocent smile. I do a doubletake to hear "enlightened" philosophy spewing forth from such an unlikely source. I seriously need to wake up before this gets worse!
"Excuse me," I mutter as I make my way around my desk and proceed to sink into the plush chair.
"Have you read Voltaire's Candide, Dr. Freudine?" comes inevitably. "You looked like you recognized it."
I throw my head in my hands and shake it. "Oh, go away, voices! Why is this happening to me? Why? Why? I probably imagined that con artist Jan, too!"
"But she said Irish asked for sex therapy, so here we are," the other voice gushes. "Have you ever met him, babe? How long you been in the business?"
"Never met him and I just finished my training..."
"Stop!" I yelp, flinging myself back into my seat. "I'm ready to hear your sex philosophy if you actually have one. Based on Voltaire maybe? Money must just leap into your greedy hands and then the conniving world snatches it away as it did our boy Candide. How much do you charge, ladies?"
"Whatever you think is best, of course," says the model.
"$200 an hour. There's at least six hours of intense therapy which can be in three two-hour sessions or..."
"$200 an hour! For what? Forget it, babe. If you think Irish is going to pay $1200 for you or any woman he hasn't met and fallen in love with, you're pathetic!" I fume, then jab my finger at the door. "Please leave."
"Leave? Why? Because I don't know Voltaire?"
Shoulders slumping she shuffles off to the door with her bright mauve lips trembling. "It's not fair. You need me. I know he'd like me. I know..." Soon the door closes quietly.
"What's your name, sex surrogate?" I sigh. Our wary eyes meet.
"Miss Cunengonde will do. Candide loves her and because he's unworthy of her in her family's eyes is tossed out of his home (and hers) with only the clothes on his body, thinks she has been murdered, then finds her and loses her and finally finds her without rose-colored glasses. I will be that elusive woman my cliient loves, through the stages of chivalric romance, fantasy and reality, to help him heal his sexual demons."
"Oh!" I utter in wonder.
"You know the young, sexually-frustrated Candide was forced to become a soldier, sees the ravages of war and a dungeon, almost dies several times in under a hundred pages and across the free world in the 1700s, but through it all, humorously told by Voltaire with good and evil forces confusing him, he holds his love for Miss Cunengonde like a shining beacon, a hope to make life worth living!"
"Okay, humor me. How are you elusive if he's paying for you?" Hmm. A philosophic angel fighting sexual demons...
"This isn't prostitution, Dr. Freudine. Intercourse may or may not occur in the last session. It depends on what his problem is and how appropriate that would be for his therapy. He'll be discussing it with you, then you with me and so it will be your call. If you want, I'll stay elusive."
"I see," I hedge, tapping my pen on the desk. "'We must cultivate our garden,' as Candide says in the end. Do our thing that gives the world more good than evil and us pleasure and relief from boredom and loneliness."
"Then you approve?"
I hesitate. "I'll discuss it with Irish. I have a feeling that my other client, David, would benefit more from your therapy as he's quite frustrated with an elusive woman right now. I can see this might be just the thing for him."
"You like him, don't you? I can tell from your face. I won't tell Jan if you'd rather...you know..."
I feel my face explode with heat and slap the desk. "Who cares what that nitwit knows? Thank you very much, Miss Cunengonde. I'll be in touch." We shake hands as I rise from my chair and walk her to the door.
"I'm s...sorry if I...," she starts to stumble and I soften my face a little.
"Let's keep this professional, shall we? Go cultivate your garden." I open the door and she's thankfully gone. Restraining myself from slamming the door, I close and lock it. The very idea of me and Irish! If this is a dream, I want to wake up. Ziggy Freudine, I give you permission to wake up. Wake up!
Oh, oh, phooey!