Vice Presidents Anonymous is a support group for recovering VPs, much like Alcoholics Anonymous is for alcoholics. But instead of sharing stories about struggles with alcohol, we share stories about struggles with greed, sleaze, aggression, delusion, paralysis and imbecility .
September 9th, 2020
Local SAA Leader Shares Concerns About Nation’s Mental Health Crisis
Tallahassee, FL—Don Pickles, the leader of Tallahassee’s largest Sex Addicts Anonymous group, has been coming to meetings with the all-too-familiar weight of addiction on his shoulders for the past 11 years. But now, he sees that burden taking on a new form in the rapidly expanding group. “I know times are tough,” he says peering over a cup of coffee at the COVID-cleared streets, “but what’s going on with the group seems…unprecedented.”
Given the recent quarantine measures, SAA membership nationwide has skyrocketed. One might expect this given any “hard times” that come about, but what is peculiar about this wave is that many of the new members stay silent. “I’m not sure why they come—I mean, I am: they want to connect. But I don’t know if that’s because they need to be comforted or if it’s just better entertainment than Netflix. I feel like I’m performing for them?”
Newer members of the Tallahassee SAA seem to arrive with a set of expectations. They tend to bring folding chairs and set them up like pews around the sharing circle. Vendors go up and down the aisles selling peanuts and Sour Patches. Beer is not permitted--conspicuously. Betsy Holden, a longtime member of SAA, is confused not so much about the flippant nature of their behavior as she is about its logical inconsistencies. "They file in and sit down in these chairs not a foot apart from each other, but all you have to do to get 'em to talk is get up for some water at the cooler and they'll scream "SOCIAL DISTANCE SOCIAL DISTANCE" before you've even turned around. I mean, what the hell is wrong with these people? You're allowed to answer that, by the way."
The pandemic has revealed many ills heretofore unchecked in American society. Among them has been the absence of equal access to mental health services. While 99% of Americans aren’t covered for those services, Ivy-League institutions now provide personal helicopter therapy sessions for certain students with the funds to cover the copay. Mental health counselors take their patients out above the skyline, hoping to provide a safe space for any issues that may be uncomfortable to share on earth. In their defense, nothing on earth is comfortable to share anymore. That’s what lies at the root of Don's pickle.
“Can I blame them for using my mortifying addiction to climb out whatever sand trap they fell in? Maybe, but isn’t the point of SAA, to accept, validate, and rehabilitate? If they’re in pain and need a shoulder, do they need to be sex addicts? If they just need friends. I can be a friend."
Loneliness affects today's Americans nearly 10,000 times the rate of your average well-fed chimp, and Herr Trump's recent Constitutional Executive Order (CEO) is the country's best and most recent effort to combat it. The "Make Things Good and Feeling Beautiful, A Real Beauty" act of November 2nd, 2020, made Tallahassee State the newest member of the Ivy League, and thus privy to its luxurious options for therapy. Now, in addition to leading the Ivy League in helicopter flights, State’s massive, sudden influx of federal funding has allowed the school to invest in and consequently monopolize the deregulated mental health marketplace. The first three sections of the school healthcare plan (which served as the platform for State’s wider reshaping of national healthcare) require all members to pay a flat “luxury-tax” fee of $2 million. In addition to helicopter therapy, many of the mental health services include cutting edge medical practices such as Learjet therapy, Bora Bora therapy, and Eyes Wide Shut therapy. Exactly three Floridians have been able to access these services. They are all Donald Trump.
Ms. Holden views almost everything about the current state of affairs in Florida with deep skepticism. As a child, she and her parents fled from East Germany shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Expecting political violence, they hoped to find refuge in America. To them, America was the promised land--a Canaan of opportunity and of freedom of conscience. But when they arrived, they found a country seized by the paralyzing effects of consumerism, consumer culture, and now a pulmonary disease much like the consumption that killed their relatives in East Berlin tenements. The freedom of consciousness and opportunity that should have revived their Teutonic Romanticism cheapened it into peep shows and airport novels. Her parents underwent ego death. They vanished into their office work, came home in silence to cook flavorless Bratwurst three times a day, hoping to taste the flavors of home and culture once again. Betsy vanished into the seductive mists of sexual adventure.
“I understand their pain. I’ve been there, with no one to turn to, nowhere to go. I get it. But they don’t participate, they don’t share.”
He looks at his cup and picks it up again to sip, looking out over the now-teeming square of shouting people getting ready to protest a closed Dave and Busters.
“They don’t share,” he says again, “and sometimes I can’t help but feel that they might just be bored, looking for the next feeling they can pickle up and put in the pantry for a while. Cheapest entertainment out there.”