My TMI Moment with Dr. Phil
0 comment Monday, May 12, 2014 |
As usual, I've been cruising the economy blogs and it's still all gloom and doom. Commercial mortgages are fast heading south. Better fasten your seat belts for a bumpier ride.
Still, a bit of good news came this past weekend, trumpeted in Sunday's Parade. The prosperous Dr. Phil graced the cover, sporting a watch so flinty it was blinding.

In the piece Phil soothes us pathetic pedestrians. "You got caught in a 'perfect storm' of conditions, most of which were beyond your control," he says. Yet, in a patronizing pique he goes on to scold us, "we never really needed a life where we were living large." He also admonishes: "You have to think with verbs in your sentences and do whatever it takes to keep you and your family afloat."
With such sage advice, I feel better already. Thank you, Dr. Phil. But if I had the small house that sits on your wrist, I'd feel better off still.
Yet it isn't what he says, or even what he does, that makes me a non-Phil fan. It is the TMI moment he forced me to have, so many years ago. Back then we knew him as Phil McGraw, the Courtroom Sciences, Inc. ("CSI") guy. At CSI, Phil blew up trial exhibits and organized mock trials. And then Chip Babcock came along.
Chip Babcock (his uncanny resemblance to 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft notwithstanding), is a larger-than-life Texan; a preeminent media lawyer, he's the First Amendment go-to man.
Mr. Babcock, it seems, is a modest fellow; to this day he will not take, nor does it appear he's been given, any credit for McGraw's metamorphosis.
But when Oprah retained Babcock in her mad-cow case, it was Babcock who recommended mock-trial Phil. And the rest, as you know, is history.
In Phil's pre-cow, pre-Oprah exhibit days, when I was a brand-new associate, he came to a firm-training session. These sessions were to teach baby lawyers like me, and I guess Phil was there to give us trial pointers. What I can say is that on this memorable night, Phil forced me into TMI meltdown.
Baby lawyers assembled, Phil addressed our fledgling group. Pick a partner, he curtly instructed. Turn our chairs toward each other, he said to us all, and sit with our knees fully touching. But I was preoccupied -- probably proofing a memo -- and I missed this peculiar preamble. By the time I figured out physicality was involved, the senior partner was the only man standing (a giant man well past 6'2").So just a few weeks into my firm's employ I sat knee to knee with Giant Partner. We were told not to speak in this knee-touch position, and keep eye contact for the full two minutes. Weird? Uncomfortable? Yes and yes. Though nothing could've prepared me for what came next.Now, directed Phil, one person in each pair must put our legs together. The other should spread his legs wide and encircle our thighs with his own. During this pose we were again to maintain eye contact without speaking for another two minutes. Phil called this position a "dyad." I would call it hell.
During this intense thigh-hugging stare-down, in my head I wrote my grocery list. And thanked God that I'd worn a long skirt that day, a skirt that swam at my ankles.
Then it was my turn to thigh-hug Giant Partner man, berka'd by my billowing skirt. This time, as we thigh-highed and stared at each other, we were told to describe our "proudest moment."
Dear God, help me now. This was TMI -- too much intimacy -- and it was over the top.
The room was a sauna as Giant Partner went on about his son's famous high school touch down. Sweating profusely, tongue-tied with grocery lisp, my mind began to fade. Brilliantly not, I talked about food shopping, how to spot a good head of Romaine.
Whatever was the purpose of that ridiculous "dyad" to this day remains far from clear. But whenever I see Phil on a page in a People, or peer at me from a Parade, I think about thighs and that senior Giant Partner and quickly turn a bright shade of red. That said, he's the rich guy with glitzy watch, gifting us plebes with colloquial proverbs. Me, I'm just a writer, a lawyer-mom blogging, with sentences lacking in adverbs.