The Trick to Improving Any Relationship

It's easy: Get your significant other--or parent, sibling, perhaps even your yoga buddy--to take drugs! (The prescription kind, I mean.)


It's been something of a quiet weekend; I needed to take it easy and regain my sanity.

As those of you have been reading for a while know, I wanted to get off the SSRI I was taking, because I was freaking outabout how much weight it was causing me to gain. My doctor agreed that it might be a good idea to switch meds, so last week I started taking Wellbutrin. But, rather than following my doctor's orders to a T, and slowly weaning myself off the SSRI, I stopped taking it abruptly (must! lose! weight!) ... and went through a very wicked case of what they call in the literature "SSRI withdrawal." DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. Long story short, I was breaking down in tears once every two hours or so for about three days--over things like the Tom Waits song I was listening to, and the fragile state of my new basil plant.

Once the worst of the emotional storm had passed, on Friday night, I had a lovely dinner with some old friends. I also ventured out again for Father's Day Brunch with my pop. We went to Superfine, in the picturesque neighborhood DUMBO. The restaurant is set up in an old warehouse, and the main room has three levels: a sunken bar, lit by Chinese lanterns and dangling blue Christmas lights; a main floor (with an orange-felt pool table in one corner); and a crow's nest level, which has only three or four tables, overlooking all the others, and crowned with frilly Hawaiian-style umbrellas (that seem to be outfitted in hula skirts).

My dad--who lives in the suburbs--got a kick out of seeing all the Brooklyn fashions, as he always does: One woman had her hair back in two ponytails, and was wearing red suspenders and red sandals with her little short shorts and straw farmer's hat; another chick seemed to be wearing almost nothing but tattoos (though I assured my father there was a black tunic dress on her, too). After he begged me, please, to never to get a tattoo, his attention was momentarily distracted by a Paul-Bunyan-tall man walking past in shorts and cowboy boots, with a huge soft Afro-frizz.

Once we ordered (Huevos Ranheros for me, eggs and bacon for him), my father picked up the conversation again by saying, "It made me so happy this morning, when you called to give me directions, to hear you say you were looking forward to seeing me."

I was a little confused. "Of course I was, Dad. What do you mean?"

"For a long time, I thought: 'Maura Kelly and I are on different roads, and never the twain shall meet.'" (My father likes to be poetical now and then.) "I was sure we'd never get along, you and I. And nothing makes me happier, now, than knowing we do. It's nice to feel like somebody wants to see an old man like me."

Um, could I get a little more tear-jerking sauce with my eggs, please?

My father and I used to fight like cats and dogs. To give you a sense of how bad things used to be: I once wrote him a letter in which I said, "I wish you'd change, because I don't love you as much as I'd like to." (At least I fight fair, huh?)

And back in the not-so-distant past, my father said to me, more than once, more times than I'd like to remember: "You never do anything but break my heart."

My sister (who was away with her husband for the weekend but is actually a far better daughter than I am) thinks the problem was that my father and I are so alike--so sensitive, so vain!--that the slightest hint (real or imagined) of disapproval from one of us would set the other off; and before anyone could understand what was happening, we'd be in a screaming match. Then I'd start crying; he'd start sulking; and the whole day would be up in flames.

The thing that improved our relationship more than any other? Celexa. Yep. After suffering through a lifetime of serious depression, my father finally, finally relented--at age 73!--and began taking an anti-depressant. Not longer after he got on them, when I saw how much they were helping him, I tried them too.* And what do you know? Weight gain aside**, they've helped immeasurably.

That's a little background on me and my pop ... who, incidentally, happens to be wildly charismatic: a flirt like no other. I asked him about his top flirting tricks, which are surprisingly insightful. Tomorrow, I'll report back about them.


*Wasn't it Tolstoy who said "All unhappy families are unmedicated, but all happy families take their meds?"

**I've been on Wellbutrin and off the SSRI a little more than a week now, and already, I'm almost back to my old weight.