Subsonic chest-crushing vibrations shook the ground, white hot flames shot sideways, as if the sun had finally hit the Earth. Then abruptly, silence. Marie Ganmor checked the tachograph readout attached to the thrust meter, as she expected this was the highest thrust level ever recorded, the straight line bearing witness to the stable and sustained burn. This result put Rocketdyne back on track to launch the first US satellite into orbit. A perfect start to the day, except that now she had one more pointless psychiatric test with another so called expert. Like all staff security vetting procedures, these tests were endless and wearisome.
Marie strode to the office block and briskly made her way to the interview room. A young receptionist sat at the desk outside, plastered in pancake makeup, bouffant hair piled high, busy painting her nails.
“I’ve an appointment with Dr Grossman.”
“He said go straight in.”
She entered to find Dr Grossman on the floor assembling what appeared to be a full-size jigsaw of a cow, each piece labelled, short loin, brisket, flank, like a chart on a butchers wall. Next to him on the floor was another set of cards, the uppermost card read schizophrenia. She got the impression that Dr Grossman was about to start pairing the cards with the jigsaw pieces.
“You’re wondering about the cards ya? I am completing a study of beef-eating and psychosis. I started my career studying under that schmuck Freud. He and his boot-licking sycophants believe the psyche runs on sex. A baby sucking on mother’s tit? He sees fellatio. A pitseler sits on the potty with a little constipation; Freud thinks years later she wants it up the tush. Did you sit on the potty? Do you want it up the tush?”
“Well, um, no… that’s definitely not what I’m here for.”
“I thought not. For years I listened to all his spiel and believed, before Hitler. Then he ran to London to more acclaim. But I had no money; I spent three years in the Nazi labor camps. Starved until you are skin and bone, nothing else. Then, at this moment of depravity and starvation, inspiration. I had discovered what truly drives the psyche - good nosh. Not penises. Let me demonstrate with some word association. Fruit.”
“You have a problem with self-image. Cheese.”
“The mother’s breast is the unconscious source of our cheese preferences. Your mother had poor hygiene and suffered from body odor."
“Unexpected, interesting. Perhaps a Jewish origin? Maybe you are driven by the urge to feed others? I must examine in more detail. Bagel.”
“Bagel deficiencies? Is the bagel bakers union on strike again?”
“Bagel - it’s what the scientists on the team call my new rocket fuel, 60% dimethylhydrazine, 40% diethylenetriamine. Combine it with liquid oxygen, LOX, so bagel and lox.”
“Ah yes. Bagel with salmon and cream cheese, a personal favorite of mine too.”
“But the military are going to call it Hydyne. The generals, they are so arrogant and self-centered, makes you feel the world is deficient in some way I guess.”
“Bagels, salmon, cream cheese, such delights. Keep reaching for the moon Mrs Ganmor, ignore those meshugeneh men. I’ve examined many and repeatedly discovered chronic sausage envy. Potentially terminal cases. You see these Americans fathers, gallutes eating bratwurst after bratwurst at the baseball, while their children get the little knockwurst. The cause of so much psychosis and fear in their sons. Now the children have grown and need these enormous rockets to conquer their bratwurst demons. But you are sane and may go.”
Marie only needed to be asked once.
(Apologies to the rocket girl – RIP)