The police arrested Larry after the bikini contest uproar. He was charged with unauthorized transporting of Neanderthal women across Time boundaries. The judge took pity on him because it was his first offense, and sentenced him to get therapy for his addiction to shape-shifting and shooting Time’s arrow in the wrong direction.
“My mother didn’t know me,” Larry said, in his first visit to the psychiatrist. He was in the form of a Belgian Silver rabbit, and he sat nervously on the couch twitching his nose.
“I see,” said the psychiatrist, whose name was Dr. Fritz. “You felt that she didn’t know the inner Larry, yes?”
“No,” Larry said. “She didn’t know the outer one. I had ten thousand siblings, so she didn’t really know any of us.”
“My mother was active in the protest movement,” Edna said. She had insisted on coming with Larry to his appointment with the psychiatrist, and although she had promised to sit quietly in a corner and do her knitting, it took all of two minutes for her to break her promise. “She was always off protesting something -- the mistreatment of circus animals, overcrowded prisons, the weather. . .”
Dr. Fritz was trying to ignore her, but he had to ask: “The weather? Why the weather?”
“Well, it’s disgraceful how you can plan down to the last detail for a picnic or a tea party and then have a rainstorm just ruin the whole day. You can’t tell me the government doesn’t have a hand in this. It’s a conspiracy, that’s what it is.”
Dr. Fritz stared at her open-mouthed for a moment, then cleared his throat and said: “Well. Getting back to you, Larry. What did your father do?”
“He was busy enslaving inferior civilizations. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps. He was very concerned with my career, until I flunked out of enslavement school because I kept randomly changing into alien life forms.”
“How did your father take it?”
Larry hopped to the floor and started nibbling on the wires leading to the psychiatrist’s computer, as a way of calming his nerves. “He was not happy, of course. We are a passive aggressive civilization, though, so he couldn’t express it openly. He’d say things like, ‘That’s okay, Larry. It’s not everyone who’s cut out for enslaving civilizations. You’ll make a good clerk, I’m sure.”
“You don’t find many good clerks these days,” Edna said. “Why, do you know that the young man at the driver’s license office refused to renew my license because I couldn’t see that silly chart on the wall? I complained to his superior, but he was just as incompetent. Telling me I could cause an accident. Why, it’s been five years since then and I haven’t had a single major accident.”
Dr. Fritz’s eyes widened and he said, “You’ve been driving for five years without a license?”
“Of course,” Edna said. “What’s the point of having a chart on the wall that people can’t see?
Dr. Fritz coughed and said, “Ahem. Getting back to Larry. How did it make you feel to let your father down?”
Larry’s nose began to twitch, and tremors ran through his whole body. “It was horrible. I was an outcast among my friends. Of course, nobody teased me in an overt way. It was all, “I envy you, Larry. Going against a family tradition of military leadership that goes back half a million years. Way to break out of the mold!”
“How did you deal with that?” Dr. Fritz said.
“Larry bounded over to a small refrigerator in the corner. “Say, you wouldn’t happen to have any carrots, would you?”
“Larry, I think you’re trying to change the subject,” the psychiatrist said. “Just when we’re starting to make some progress at getting to the root of your problem.”
“Problem?” Larry said, hopping over to a brass lamp and taking a nibble out of the wire leading to it. “I have no problem. In my culture, the only way to deal with a passive aggressive insult is to smile and say, ‘Thank you’, and then repress your desire to slaughter the person’s entire family, burn his house to the ground, and enslave his kinsmen for ten generations.”
“Amazing,” Dr. Fritz said. “A whole civilization with that level of repressed rage. It’s incredible.”
“It’s why we’ve conquered half the known universe,” Larry said. “In a passive aggressive way, of course. We use backhanded compliments, veiled insults, a bit of sarcasm, a raised eyebrow here and there. Most civilizations have no defense against it. I’ve seen whole armies reduced to quivering blobs of jelly after a few of my father’s choicest compliments. Are you sure you don’t have any carrots?” He was eyeing the psychiatrist’s bookshelves, which were filled with handsome, leatherbound volumes.
* * *
In the car on the way home, Edna said. “It’s terrible how people overreact to things. I mean, really, the way that doctor flew into a rage just because you nibbled a piece out of that signed first edition of Sigmund Freud’s “Studies On Hysteria”. You’d have thought you killed someone.”
“I was hungry,” Larry said, from the seat next to Edna. His nose was twitching nervously as he watched how close Edna came to dismembering an innocent pedestrian when she made a wide left turn.
“Well, people shouldn’t say such nasty things,” Edna said. “The world would be a much nicer place if people would hold happy thoughts in their mind.”