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Couples Therapy: Meet Mary and McKenna


By Mary Binzley and McKenna Doherty and dohertym@grinnell.ed

Dr. Ingrid Meulemans (licensed therapist): So, I’ve heard you’ve been having some complications lately.

McKenna Doherty: Complications? No. Impasses? Maybe.

IM: But you’re still best friends? Can you recall some memories from before these “impasses” arose?

Mary Binzley: That was a long, long time ago. … Fifth grade, in fact.

IM: So, tell me more about that. Tell me about your youth.

MB: Well, in the glorious year of the dragon, the year 2000, we were born 108 hours apart.

MD: 108 hours via bicycle.

MB: No cap.

MD: On God.

[MB and MD look deeply into each other’s eyes. You could almost see the love present there if it hadn’t shriveled up and died long ago. They kiss their fingers in the Hunger Games three-finger salute. You hear a distant whistle.]

MB: Eventually, our families both made their way to the beautiful burghul of Monona, Wisconsin.

MD: We went to elementary school together with some degree of distant awareness of each other but didn’t become friends until fifth grade.

MB: I couldn’t believe … [Chokes up a little bit, can’t seem to finish sentence]

IM: Couldn’t believe what?

MB: I couldn’t believe I’d met someone as weird as I am. Like the same brand of weird.

MD: Like my soulmate. My best friend soulmate. [At the phrase best friend Mary stiffens]

MB: Uh … I thought we were dating?

MD: [scoffs] Since when?!

MB: Seventh grade?! I say happy birthday to you on Instagram every year! That’s a big commitment!

MD: Sorry, you’re just not my type.

[Tears fill MB’s eyes.]

IM: Let’s skip ahead. Let’s move away from this tension. Share some of your happiest memories together.

MB: Uh … Do we have the option to pass?

IM: McKenna, you go first.

MD: Remember when we bought that meme page from those young Mormon girls?

MB: God … [Mary does the sign of the cross]. Remember when we each got a million followers on TikTok? *Author’s note: this is wish fulfillment*

MD: Remember when we spun brooms in the Grinnell talent show like we were in a custodial color guard and we expected around fifty people to attend and there ended up being hundreds of people??

MB: And remember when we twerked in front of all of them??

IM: Good start, good start. It sounds like you two had a very beautiful friendship.

MB: It might have been aesthetically pleasing… definitely not beautiful. [McKenna looks stung yet flattered]

MB: Some of the uglier parts … we had the same first boyfriend, the same first kiss. Something about that really changes a person. [Meulemans nods, understanding.]

MD: Doc, how can we work through this? We have plants together. I don’t want to tear their lives apart.

IM: I have the perfect idea for you two going forward. Write a column about your thoughts, your opinions, and your issues, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll remember the good ol’ days before you fell apart.

MB: Oh, we could never handle that.

MD: Never


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