FLUSHING MEADOW, N.Y. — “Come in, Mr. McEnroe. Have a seat on the couch.”

“Do I have to lie down this time?”

“Not if you don’t want to.”

“Look, I’m sorry about disturbing you on the holiday weekend, Doc.”

“Well, I assumed it must be important. So what’s the problem?”

“What’s the problem? Didn’t you watch?”

“Watch what?”

“The U.S. Open, YOU STUPID MORON! Sorry. . . . That just slipped out.”

“The U.S. Open? No. I didn’t see it yet. I thought that tournament was two weeks long.”

“It is. That’s the problem. I lost in the first round. I got eliminated.”

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Oh. You’re sorry to hear that. YOU SLIMEBALL! Excuse me. That just slipped out.”

“Mr. McEnroe, why don’t you start by telling me what went wrong?”

“I don’t know what went wrong. I thought taking six months off would make me a better player. I thought it would give me a healthier attitude. I thought it would give me more respect for my worthy opponents.”

“Whom did you lose to?”

“This little peanut-head Paul Annacone.”

“Who?”

“Exactly. That’s my point. The guy’s a dinky player. He’s not in my league. But suddenly he’s beating me in front of my hometown fans.”

“Did you try the therapy we practiced here?”

“Yeah. I did like you said. I counted to 10. . . . I counted 10 shots he put past me. I counted 10 returns I sent into the net. I counted 10 LOUSY, STINKING SERVES THAT EVEN A MORONIC TWO-YEAR-OLD COULD HANDLE — “

“Mr. McEnroe, pleeeease.”

“Sorry. Sorry.”

“You can let go of my leg now.”

“Oh . . . right.” A double(s) blow “So what did you do after the loss?”

“I went home, saw Tatum. Then Tatum went shopping, and I played with the baby.”

“That sounds very calm.”

“Well, I was still alive in the doubles. I figured if I won that, it would make up for things.”

“And what happened?”

“What happened? Didn’t you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“How I got caught in traffic Friday and was late and HAD TO FORFEIT AND GOT FINED, YOU FAT IDIOT SCUM OF THE EARTH! Sorry. That just slipped out.”

“Caught in traffic? My. That is a trying situation. Did you use any of our therapy then?”

“Yeah, yeah. I sat in the car, told myself, ‘This too will pass . . . This too will pass. . . . ‘ “

“And?”

“And a Chevy passed me. And a Pontiac and a Toyota. They, too, all passed. Didn’t they know I had A TOURNAMENT, DAMN IT! THOSE MORON PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN THEIR UGLY STUPID CARS OFF THE ROAD SO I — “

“Tell me what happened after your forfeit.”

“I went home, saw Tatum. Then Tatum went shopping, and I played with the baby.”

“I see.” Just wants appreciation “Here’s the thing I don’t get. I took time off to get under control, because when I yell and scream, people don’t like me. But now when I don’t yell and scream, people aren’t interested in me.”

“What does that tell you?”

“That they’re all STUPID OBNOXIOUS MORONS WITH ABSOLUTELY NO BRAINS — “

“No, no. You’ve got to learn to calm down.”

“I am calm, YOU PIG-HEADED IDIOT.”

“Mr. McEnroe — “

“OK. OK. But all I want is to be appreciated. Is that such a big deal? I’ve been No. 1 in the world for years. They should respect me for that. I’m an emotional player. They should respect me for that. So what if I’m not 18 and blond like Boris Becker, who COULDN’T EVEN CARRY MY RACKET A YEAR AGO, THE LITTLE TWERP-HEAD —

“Listen, Mr. McEnroe. Why don’t you take the rest of the weekend off? Don’t watch any tennis. Avoid excitement. Avoid stress. We’ll talk about your next tournament in our regular session.”

“What should I do until then?”

“Well, I suggest you go home, send Tatum shopping, and then play with your baby.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Maybe he’ll teach you something.”

“OK. I — WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

“Nothing. That just, uh, slipped out.”

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