Clayman's Corner: You Can Handle This

"Um, Mr. Vermeil? Dr. Clayman will see you now. Yes, I did see you bloat that copy of Warpaint Illustrated Magazine with your tears. Just toss it and remember – no matter how bad it seems, everyone who sees the doctor leaves happier than he or she came in. Right through that door..."

"Hello, there! Have a couch. Haha. Stretch out your legs. I'll just sit and take a few notes if you don't mind. How about a little soothing music. Maybe some country… oops, sorry! Here's some Kleenex. What's wrong with ‘Who Do I Know in Dallas?'

"Let's try some pop. Sinatra. Love that Frances Albert… hey, hey, calm down! It's off! Now. Just. Lie. Back. Down. Good boy.

"Are we together now? Well. I have to say you're the first patient I ever had who began tearing his shirt off and screaming at ‘New York, New York.' In fact, most everyone just sings along. ‘Start spreadin' the…

"Sorry! Sit. Thank you. So, Mr. Vermeil, may I call you Richard? Oh, certainly, Dick. If you prefer. That's funny. Well, of course, my name is Richard, too, and I never could stand anyone calling me Dick. Haha. Well, you know, the negative connotation and all. Mm? What negative connotation?

"Anyway, Dick, what's on your mind? By the way, that is a beautiful red shirt you were tearing at just now. Even though red is a particularly antagonistic color. I especially like the little K.C. Is that some new designer? I mean, my wife knows them all, but I just can't take E! Channel, especially when that Joan Rivers and her daughter start in on the… oh! Sure, Kansas City. The one in Kansas?

"I see, Missouri. So do you work for the city or something? Are you here in San Diego on a business trip? The Chiefs? What's that, a new Amtrak line? Oh, oh, football, of course! Well, you know, I'm so busy with my patients, not to mention my yacht and the country club and excursions to our little villa in Milano…

"Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Okay, Dick. Well, that was quite a monologue. My goodness, I don't think you took a single breath. Now, don't start crying again. How about we see if I've got this straight, eh? Just three weeks ago, your football fellows had won eight games and lost only four. You had beaten down the footballers from Denver and New England. Everything was looking up. You weren't crying a bit.

"And then… oh, now I understand the reaction to the songs! Dallas and New York! This left you with eight wins and six losses. Well, at least you won more than you lost! That's more than many people can say!

"The what? Playoffs? So even if you win the last two contests you might not continue? Cincinnati and San Diego? My San Diego? Do we have a football squad here? Well, well. You say they beat Indianapolis? Which hadn't lost a single game before that?

"So let me ask you, do the successes of these teams make you feel inferior? Then how about the weather here in San Diego? Seen Mission Bay? Coronado? Been over to La Jolla? Not bad, huh? Look at me. I'm a professional, yet I still wear shorts and And Ones to work. Without socks. Oops, sorry. Here's more Kleenex.

"Relax, Richard. I mean, Dick. Think about this. The success of others does not define you, does it? Yet you feel like you're somehow less than them, don't you?

"No, we're not talking about needing your entire offensive line, whatever that is. Or another, what did you call it, quality linebacker? Not even a younger, more powerful quarterback. Don't you see you're just making excuses? Guenther who? Carl what? It doesn't matter! You have to look at yourself, my friend.

"Well, start with the tears. Now, as a licensed therapist, I'm certainly big on expressing yourself, letting your feelings out, but come on, now. You're a man! And not a young one either. You keep yourself in remarkable shape – nothing wrong with a bit of vanity – and you have a full head of hair.

"Your teeth are strong and white. But, Dick, we've got to do something about that grimace. You do understand that the signals you give off will often define how others react to you. If you always look as though you're in pain, then the people who follow you may begin to consider themselves as perhaps the source of that pain, which leads to introspective behavior rather than production…

"You're grimacing even worse. Stop it. In fact, don't do it again. Ever. It's not attractive. And maybe you should take those headphones off. What are you listening to, anyway? The Coaches? Is that a new group? There you go, right on the coffee table. Don't worry, they will be within reach. Wow, look what that did to your hair! Haha.

"Okay, now, just talk to me. How do you feel about where you are at this moment in your life? In deep what? Well, what's the answer to that? Correct! Instead of dwelling on your problem, in which case it tends to become you, move forward. The answer lies in action, not sentimentality.

"So, Dick, what needs to be done? Mm-hm, you need to outscore both the Chargers and Bengals. Well, you've done that eight out of 14 times this season, am I correct? I'm no math major, but that seems to be more than half. Why not two more?

"So what? So the Chargers beat you once and the Bengals have won 11 times. You've just got to believe in yourself and you can do it, Dick…

"Oh. So even if you come out ahead with both the Chargers and the Bengals, the Steelers must lose one out of two to a lousy team. Although you won't have to worry about what Jacksonville does.

"I must say, Dick, I'm beginning to understand that face you keep making. A situation as confusing as this always gives me a headache. In fact, you're giving me a headache. Why don't we both take an aspirin? There you go. You'll feel better in a minute.

"The bottom line is you must remember that the past is the past. You can't change it. All you can do is learn from it. What have you learned, Dick? That you should have stayed in what? TV? You were in TV? For a decade? Just talking? And making how much money? Why were you fired?

"Wait a second. You weren't fired? You left on purpose? To go to St. Louis? What is this thing with Missouri? Well, sure, it's better than Philadelphia. Minsk is better than Philadelphia. And you gave up Los Angeles, too? UCLA? With all those blonde and Asian coeds? Are you nuts?

"Why in the hell did you quit a cushy TV job? I've been trying for, like, twenty years to get a show on the air! And you just walked away from one? With the network? First class flights, hotel rooms, restaurants, clothes? And only having to work weekends?

"Well, you know what, Dick? Go ahead and cry! And don't waste any more of my Kleenex! You deserve to mess up your antagonistic red shirt and red pants and red socks and red shoes! You know why? Because you had it all, man! And you gave it up! To work! To put it on the line! To try to get to another, what did you call it, Super Bowl?

"Let me tell you something we've learned here in Southern California, Dick. That the goal is to get by doing as little as possible and when you're done, go lay by the pool and have a Margarita. If you don't understand that, then you deserve Kansas City and Kleenex and the heartbreak of not quite making it this year. Yes, you came close. Yes, you can always try and build on it for next season. Yes, this year isn't over yet.

"All right, Dick, your hour's up. Make sure you take care of your co-pay at the desk. Oh, and one other thing. Could you send me a signed picture from your TV days? For my Wall of Fame? And, if a miracle happens, how about a couple of Super Bowl tickets? Or maybe four?"

This is the sixteenth in a season-long series chronicling a Los Angeles native and lifelong sports follower's mission to become a Chiefs fan. After all, he doesn't have a football team of his own, does he? Richard Clayman may be contacted at Top Stories