Smoking With Andrew Tibbetts

Read the Story October 15, 2004

There’s something so heartbreaking, genuine and terrifying about this story of obsessive love. Do you think love and hate are connected for all of us?

I hope not. Hatred is pre-emptive defense. I’m the kind of person that really loves most people (especially from a distance). When I think of the few people in life I’ve had feelings of hatred for, it’s usually because I was frightened of what they might do to me. I think the character who narrates my little story 201′ is wrong about most things.

You make your living as a therapist. If this character came to see you, what would you do to help him?

I would definitely recommend a group for male abusers. Group is a very powerful medium to raise awareness. A lot of men who attend these groups start to see the rotten thinking, and ugly attitudes in the other members first (the “I’m not like that asshole, am I?” factor). At the same time, they develop some sympathy for what these other guys might really need and benefit from in their life. Then the trick is to make the switch to understanding themselves. Group can be the perfect mix of challenge and support. A lot of stalkers, etc., have more issues with other men than they do with women. It’s very strange. (Actually, I’d say that’s true for most men.)

Do you see an overlap between your role as therapist and your role as writer?

Yes. The better I get as a therapist, the more important I think sharing the realities of our existence has appeared to me. I don’t use the stories I hear from clients in my work (Lord, I wish I could! The things I hear!) but it definitely helps me think up situations that are revealing of character.

Your frank online memoir, 100 Posts About My Sex Life, touched people from all different lifestyles. Why do you think this resonated with so many of us?

I think if we dig deeply into any single human being’s experience we come up inside the universal.

True or False: Canadians are well-mannered but Americans have tastier bacon.

It is a shameful thing to admit, but I hate Canadian bacon. It’s gross. It feels like they didn’t shave or clean the pig, just hacked of a slab of the hairy thing. But I love Maple Syrup and Alice Munro! I found the Americans I’ve met to be extremely well-mannered (until the conversation turns to politics and then they get insanely hormonal and blow up like puffy fish). Canadians appear well-mannered because they are more reserved, but often they are thinking awful things about you that they just won’t share.

About the Author:

Andrew Tibbetts lives in Canada. His short fiction has appeared in This Magazine and The New Quarterly. His "day job" is as a therapist with people diagnosed with mood and personality disorders.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.