Biff America: Eggs over mental health (column)

My therapist said I was projecting.

Actually, it wasn’t ‘MY’ therapist but ‘A’ therapist. Truth is, for the therapist to be mine I would have had to pay him. So to be clear, a therapist whom I was having breakfast with said I was projecting.

For anyone who isn’t mental and doesn’t have a therapist, ‘projecting’ is when you transfer your feelings onto someone else. In other words, you make an assumption that someone is feeling/behaving a certain way because you feel or behave that way yourself.

To be clear, when I suggested only mental people see therapists, I meant no disrespect. I believe that most of us are mental to a degree and would be well-served to occasionally see a mental health expert. Truth is, I’m way mental, but also way frugal, so I have to get my free mental health information over coffee with a shrink.

It was the first day of school for many of the kids in my ‘hood. I looked out the window and saw a few of them trudging towards the bus stop like soldiers heading off to war. I recalled my own first days back in the classroom and felt for those little warriors. Truth is though, my first day of school was less a soldier heading to battle as it was a convict approaching the gallows.

I remember bursting out of the school house the last day of school and the start of summer vacation with a sense of pure joy and freedom. If you were to take the polar opposite of those glad tidings, they would be my emotions as I headed back for school that next fall.

When I glanced out my window and saw those kids heading off towards the bus stop, I just assumed they felt the same way as I had many years before. But when I looked closer, a couple of them were happily skipping.

I was explaining all that to a few guys who I was having breakfast with and one of them — a therapist — told me that in his trade, that was called ‘projecting’. I thanked him but clarified if he thinks I was going to pay for his omelet, he should see a therapist.

All that aside, I think one of the best ‘bangs’ for our tax ‘buck’ is public education. I can remember the look of relief on my own mum’s face as she sent my five siblings and me off to school. For six hours she would be free of us and would know her six-pack of kids would be watched, protected, and in some cases, educated.

By the same token, even being childless, I am happy to pay my share to educate the young yard apes in my community because one of them could someday grow up to discover a cure for wrinkles, dementia or all those other conditions that I have but have forgotten the names of.

Public education, in my opinion, is a good example of what works in government. The better educated a country is, the safer, happier and more productive it is. I believe teachers are doing one of the most important jobs in the nation. From first to twelfth grade, I was a disinterested student. But that was on me; the educators tried, but I had issues of both a nature and nurture variety that diminished my concentration and interfered with retention.

A common brag of parents today is of a ‘gifted child’. We had a few wicked smart kids in my class, some even went to Ivy League schools and military academies. I don’t remember anyone being called ‘gifted’. We also had quite a few kids who had some behavioral issues yet I have no recollection of any parents claiming teachers were unfairly picking on their children. Pretty much parents of my generation happily sent their kids off to be educated by teachers and coaches they appreciated and respected.

But even after my graduation from high school without knowing what an adverb or dangling participle was, and assuming Moby Dick was a condition, when I needed it most there were educators who taught me way more than could be found in the books I never read. To this day I feel a debt of deep gratitude for that handful of teachers, coaches (and one young student teacher) who changed my life.

I’d like to think they remember me fondly but I’m probably projecting……

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or

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