Why are you here?"
"I need help, Doctor. A compulsion is coming over me, a desire I can't control, an urge, an obsession, a . . ."
"What is it?"
"I want to kill a bicyclist. I want to hit one of them with my car, knock him off the road, send him spilling over the curb, tumbling out of control. I want to see the bike go flying and then -- this is my fantasy -- I stop my car, get out and so do all the other drivers. They cheer me. They yell 'Hooray!' and then they pick me up and carry me around on their shoulders. And then they take me down to the District Building, where they have a ceremony for me. The mayor and everything, if he's in town."
"Do you actually want to kill the bicyclist?"
"No, not really. I do want to wreck his bike, though."
"This is a normal reaction to the stress of city driving. You have nothing to fear as long as you do nothing. I mean, as long as you really don't hit one of them."
"Yes, I know. But that's why I'm here. I tried to hit one the other day."
"Tell me about it."
"Well, I used to run every day in Rock Creek Park, and while some people fear muggers, I used to fear the nuts on the bikes. They would come whizzing around curves. Several times I nearly got hit. You can't hear them coming, and sometimes they come right up on you from behind. I would feel them more than hear them and jump out of the way."
"Well, if that wasn't bad enough, then I started to fear the bike messengers you see downtown, who often ride on the sidewalk. If I was walking, they would almost hit me, and if I was driving, I was afraid of hitting them. They snake in and out of traffic. They have a rule, I think, never to brake. They are not allowed to come to a full stop or let their feet touch the ground. They just circle in front of you. It's like a taunt."
"Why do you take this personally?"
"I don't know. That's why I'm here. They drive me . . . er, crazy. Sometimes when you're driving, there will be a biker ahead of you that you can't pass. Not only that, you can't really gauge the distance between your car and the bike. It makes me nervous. Then, when I'm finally past him, I'll come to a light or something and the guy on the bike will go right by me -- and then run the light!"
"Yes, yes, I know."
"I mean, where are the cops? Did you ever see a cop stop a biker and give him a ticket for running a light? Did you ever see one of those guys get nailed for riding on the sidewalk? Did you ever see one of them get arrested -- yes, arrested! -- for almost hitting someone? I mean, where's the fairness of it all?"
"Life is not fair."
"Thanks. That's a big help."
"Please, lower your voice. Get control of yourself."
"Okay, okay. I hate those outfits the bikers wear, too. (Is that better?)"
"Yes. Much better. Please, go on."
"They look like some sort of space-age creatures, as though none of the laws apply to them because they're Mercury, the winged messenger, or something. They don't even have to obey the laws of gravity, never mind those of traffic. Those skin-tight outfits, just exuding contempt, arrogance and an unbridled sexuality . . ."
"I think you'll need another session."
"Yes, okay. But here's what happened. Last Sunday, I was driving through Rock Creek Park, and the traffic was backed up. There were two bikers on the road -- the road! -- when they should have been on the bike trail. They were holding up the traffic. No one could pass them, and they wouldn't pull over. Finally, one by one, we passed, but a moment later we came to the stoplight at Calvert Street NW. Traffic backed up again, and the bikers just whizzed out into the oncoming lane and passed us. I was furious."
"I think it was all too much for me, the culmination of years of being pushed around by people on bikes. I was seething. I wanted to kill those guys, but I couldn't catch up to them. Later that day, I was taking my son to a friend's house. I was at Tenley Circle with the light in my favor, going through, really moving, when a biker dressed in one of those awful outfits ran his light. I almost hit the guy, and I gave him my horn. He gave me the finger."
"Yes, yes. Then what?"
"I chased him. I zoomed up Wisconsin Avenue until I caught him. I rolled down my window and yelled at him. We were at a light, and the guy was doing one of those circling numbers, just going round and round. He was laughing. He told me to go to hell, and then he took off -- against the light. I chased him again. I wanted to hit him. I wanted to send him and his bike clear to Chevy Chase on the fly.
"Finally, I got hold of myself. I got scared. 'What am I doing?' I thought. 'This is sick. Juvenile. I'm a newspaper columnist. People know me. If I killed a biker, there would be a scandal. Some people would admire me for it, I know, but others would say, "See, that's the guy who tells us what to think. That's the one who thinks he's always right, and look -- look! -- what he's done." ' I went home, shaken. That's when I decided to call you, a psychiatrist, someone who could explain why I'm acting the way I am."
"That was you?"
"You could have killed me!"
"Please, Doctor! Lower your voice!" ::