“Scarlett, honey, you looked so much better out there tonight!” Rayna said, hugging her warmly. “What changed? Was it my inspiring talk about how people used to throw flaming car tires at my head when I first started singing for stadium crowds? To please your uncle Deacon? To show Gunnar and Avery that you can succeed on your own?”
“No,” Scarlett said. “For the last six months, I’ve been doing some CBT work with this great woman who operates out of Vanderbilt, and making some inroads into my anxiety and tendency to self-sabotage. It’s a tough process, but a rewarding one.” Scarlett really said it mostly like that, and only 23% of her words were mangled beyond recognition by trepidation and TV Southern Bashful #4.
“That’s fantastic!” Rayna said, as her hair turned into Aslan’s mane, and she lightly touched Scarlett’s shoulder with her soft, firm lion’s paw.
“To break through my most recent plateau, my therapist referred me to a psychiatrist, and we’ve been seeing what a low dose of an anti-anxiety medication can do on an as-needed basis, and now I don’t throw up and faint every time I pull up to the venue.”
“You know, we were worried that you were going to have to move home and get a quiet, low-stress job at a flower shop” Rayna/Aslan said.
“Me too! Thank God for sliding scale payment plans. Once I’m a big success, I’m gonna help anonymously subsidize mental health treatment for other young women.”
“Peggy, I can’t be with you right now.” Teddy said, holding her hand. “I think we should sleep in different people’s massive king beds and lean against different people’s exposed brick walls and decorative grotto features.”
“Why, Teddy?” Peggy said, with a tremor in her voice but resolve in her eyes.
“I’ve started seeing a therapist, and he’s helped me realize that I have this deep-seated need to ‘save’ people, to be the hero.”
“Isn’t…isn’t that a good thing?”
“Not always! Let me…hm. You watch How I Met Your Mother, right?”
“I’ve got two eyes and a heart, don’t I?” Peggy said, wincing as she abruptly pulled away from the oak sideboard.
“Right. Okay, well, I’ve got a lot of that Hero Ted thing, basically. I’m drawn towards people who are drowning, and then I jump in and let them climb on top of my head. I mean, why am I called ‘Teddy’ if viewers aren’t supposed to think of me as a soft, cuddly refuge?” Teddy said, pulling a splinter from Peggy’s hand.
“That doesn’t sound great,” Peggy said, unaware that blood poisoning was already setting in, and would peak for sweeps week.
“No, and then I resent them for letting me do the thing I chose to do out of my own free will. Or they become stronger and more confident over time, and it turns me off. Why would a happy person need me?”
“This is really hard for me to hear. When you tell me you’re only attracted to my brokenness, it makes me feel…”
“Peggy? This isn’t how I figured you would react, based on literally every interaction we’ve ever had.”
“I’ve been seeing someone too.” Peggy was already in love with her therapist, who knew it, and was working on creating a professional distance between them.
“Juliette, I feel like we’ve all forgotten that you seemed to have a serious drinking problem there, for a time, and now it drifts in and out of the narrative,” Deacon said, using his best Daddy/sex-object/stubble face.
“Hm?” said Juliette, realizing she’d had a champagne flute in her hand for the last ten months, and letting the thought roll past her.
“As someone who had many successful decades of sobriety under his belt, can I give you some advice?”
“Sure,” Juliette said, removing his pants with her toes while writing an amazing song you would download from iTunes and play in the car constantly. She wasn’t really listening, because she was awesome already. Deacon went on to talk about accountability and trust and his higher power, the smell of a guitar left sitting on a porch in the brief noontime sunshine of a day in late autumn.
(they hug, eventually)
“You and me can be real dicks, can’t we?” said Gunnar, passing Avery a light beer and feeling bad for himself. Gunnar’s drink of choice was disappointing people.
“We sure can, buddy. I mean…I’m just an asshole, and you’ve got SUCH a Madonna/Whore complex with women. And my situation has been getting better, while you just seem to become more and more prickly.” Avery’s hair was an inch too long, his chin an inch too short and his face made you want to punch it repeatedly.
“Let’s work on ourselves, first, and try to seek out respectful, happy relationships with equals.” Avery was a lot nicer now for no reason, but he could turn on us at any time.
“I’ll drink to that!” Gunnar said, accidentally having sex with a woman who liked him. “My life is misery. I’m going to see a therapist about my guilt and depression, but only go a handful of times and then write a great song about being a criminal in the 1930s instead of a singer-songwriter making a decent living in 2013.”