quality time

creative nonfiction

last night, i went over to my friend scotty’s house to watch the red sox play the blue jays. the sox were destroying the jays by a “touchdown,” as scotty liked to say.  the score was 7 to 0.

“the jays are gonna come back and win,” i said. “just wait and see!”

“there’s no way,” scott said. “we’ve got this one.”

we sat on his porch, on the second floor, overlooking a quiet Boston street, and it drizzled. i played the banjo while scott made some microwave popcorn. his cell phone with the baseball game video laid on a table, unattended to.

scott came back outside and we sat for a while and chatted as i devoured all his popcorn.

suddenly, lightning menaced overhead. closer and closer.

“come on phil, let’s go inside,” scott insisted.

no, i love a good storm, i thought. i don’t want to go in.

he picked up his cell phone and walked quickly into the doorway

“come on!” he said, reaching out and grabbing my arm. “it’s dangerous.”

i sighed. and i followed him into his living room and put my banjo back into its case.

we chatted some more as his cat bella walked back and forth across his old lazyboy

“phil,” scott asked, a grin spreading across his face, “do you know the different ways to express love?” he started chuckling. “i learned it from a couple of great books, ‘traveler’s gift,’ is one of them, and ‘the noticer’ is the other.”

just then, scott’s wife walked into the living room and she started laughing.

what’s she thinking. that her husband is such a character, i thought.

“um…” i said… “i’m not sure. how to express love?”

“that’s what i thought.”

“but i can guess,” i said.

“uh huh.”

“you can bring flowers. like bribery,” i said.

“that’s the first way. you got it! acts of kindness.”

“you can give a hug.”

“the second way! physicality. a hug, holding hands, a kiss,” i said.

the cat walked closer to me and i shifted back. i used to be very allergic to cats.

“you can say something nice. or you can sing a love song.”

“that’s the third way.” scott laughed and shifted in his seat. “but there’s one more way.”

“ummm,” i sat. i don’t know it?

“you aren’t going to get it.”

“i am going to get it. love poetry!”

“nope, that’s verbal, the third way.”


i rubbed my neck where i’d been hurting the past several days.

“i told you you wouldn’t get it,” scott said.

“i’m gonna get it,” i exclaimed.

but i paused for a long time and it didn’t come to me.

“quality time,” scott said. “you have to spend quality time together.”


If you found this post useful, please continue the discussion. go to “leave a reply” at the bottom of this page. thanks!

dr. phil lederer



One thought on “quality time

  1. The question is, how can we move from the 3rd to 4th to 5th orders of mind/ orders of consciousness (socialized mind -> self authoring mind -> self transforming mind) to enable us to love our partners and all human beings equally (moksha). Once we’ve reached that 5th order, we can step back from and reflect on the limits of our own ideology or personal authority; see that any one system or self-organization is in some way partial or incomplete; be friendlier toward contradiction and oppositeness; seek to hold onto multiple systems rather than projecting all but one onto the other. Our self coheres through its ability to distinguish internal consistency from wholeness or completeness; its alignment with the dialectic rather than either pole. any thoughts?

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