During the great snow of January 2016, one of our adult children moved back in. Dressed up in her new jeans and elegant boots she sat out the three days cozily ensconced on our new, cream sofa until the snow cleared.
Goodbyes said, I noticed the blue shadow on the cream sofa. The fabric is washable, but the discoloration did not wash off. I tried a lint roller, but the stain did not yield. So I called for an upholstery dry cleaner. He made his assessment and his diagnosis. “Blue jeans,” he said. “You have to be careful these days with clothes coming in from abroad. You have to wash dark pants two, three times before wearing.” Then the treatment: “You do not want to steam clean something like this. You don’t put the solution directly on the fabric. You don’t soak it. You have to take time. Dab it on with a white towel. No such thing as a quick fix.” With immense care he repeatedly applied the correct solution sparingly until the stain was lifted.
As the dry cleaner left, he asked, “What kind of doctor are you?” “A psychoanalyst for adults and children.” “Wow,” he said. “A lot of people could probably use that, and don’t know it. There’s a lot of stress these days — drugs, the internet, and applying to college. Actually we sent our son to a therapist. We wanted him to have someone he could turn to outside the family. He didn’t really need it, but then he got stressed and went back to her for a couple of years, and it was great for him.”
I valued his patient approach to stains, and he valued my slow, thorough approach to personal problems. His son is doing well. I have a clean sofa.
Jill Scharff, MD
Member, The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis
Drawing by Bobbi Sorensen