On the Zac
Terry DeHart

You can only miss your freeway exit so many times before you know that Prozac isn’t the drug for you. Sometimes important things just don’t register when you’re on the ’zac, and that’s a hard way to live. Let me give you an example: One day my girlfriend says she wants to eat at a restaurant where they give you two spoons and two forks and the linen napkins are folded to look like crowns. She wants a waiter to grind fresh pepper on her salad, she says, and to go to a place that doesn’t serve beer nuts. I think, OK, whatever. On the ’zac you say “whatever” a lot. Somebody could mug you with a rusty chainsaw and you’d say “whatever” and hand over your money and pat the guy on the back. But Maria is serious about this restaurant thing and I say OK, let’s go to the German restaurant downtown, the one next to Rudi’s bar, where they still smoke inside, even though smoking is banned in bars and on boats and near dams, and all those other places where Sam refused to eat green eggs and ham.

But Maria says she isn’t talking about German cuisine. She’s in the mood for something more civilized. I say Germans aren’t civilized? Don’t they make Mercedes and BMWs and Audis? And Maria says that industrial production isn’t a good way to judge the quality of a nation’s cuisine. They’ve only been a country for a little while, she says, but maybe they’ll have good food in a few hundred years or so. She says this as if she was born in ancient Mesopotamia, but I let it go. I ask her what she wants and she says she wants French. I say French what? She crosses her eyes and says she wants some French foooood. Snails and frog legs and protein sources like that? I ask, and she says yes, and I say OK, I’m game, but I’m trying not to think “whatever.”

We get dressed up. Maria looks like a million bucks, her breasts trying to squeeze their way out of her tight dress, and me cheering them on like it’s a race or something. If I wasn’t on the ’zac, we’d be having French with no doilies and folded napkins, let me tell you. But Maria pushes me away when I try to kiss her. She says let’s go.

I’m the perfect gentleman. I open the car door for her and she gives me her mandatory glare, but there’s a twinkle in her eye. She gets back out of the car and opens my door for me. We laugh at ourselves and at The Way Things Are. We do that a lot. I can feel the ’zac doing its thing, but hey, at least it doesn’t hurt. These days I leave 20 percent tips and I follow at a safe distance. I keep both hands on the steering wheel and I hardly ever bitch about anything anymore, but I’m beginning to wonder whether or not I’m missing those freeway exits on purpose.

The pharmaceutical cure for depression is far better than the disease, in my opinion, but all of the side effects aren’t listed on the bottle.

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