Dr. Phil's Sister

I never told you about the time I met Dr. Phil's sister.

There's an episode of Sex and the City where Miranda tells Carrie that she's just met Steve's mother. And Carrie asks what Steve's mom was like. And Miranda says:

Imagine Steve. In a wig. Drunk!

Well, if you were to ask me, "Kristy? What's Dr. Phil's sister like?" I would say exactly that. Erm, almost exactly:

Imagine Dr. Phil. In a wig. REALLY drunk!

It was during that super transitional period in my life, October of 2001. My husband and I were separated, divorcing. I was moving to San Francisco but hadn't left yet because I wanted to wait until after my best friend's wedding. My soon-to-be-ex and I had sold our house. All of my belongings had been split into various stages of "storage:" There were boxes of things at my parents' house; there were smaller things at my sister, Healy's (including two displaced cats); there were household items in boxes at my cousin Nate's place in Palo Alto; the rest was divided amongst a couple suitcases that were taking up permanent residence in my car.

Emily was getting married in New York. I had time and nowhere to be, really, so I decided to stay at the hotel starting the Wednesday before the Saturday wedding. I figured it would be a unique place to spend a few days, and would give me a place of my own to be for a while. I wouldn't be encroaching on anyone's space, being at a hotel.

On Thursday evening I decided to get dinner and have a couple drinks at the hotel bar. It was a pretty swanky hotel property, and the hotel's "tavern" was actually located underground. It was not the kind of place where locals would go -- or even know about -- and the only patrons were hotel guests. Of which there were precious few.

I had never taken myself to a bar alone before, but I figured it was better, nicer, healthier than sitting alone in my room (especially because I didn't yet own a laptop). I was hungry for company.

While I was eating my dinner and half-watching Friends on the bar television, a woman came into the place. She was wearing fancy-ish clothes, having just come from some sort of cocktail party. She sat next to me, and struck up a conversation with both me ad the bartender at once. It was pretty evident she was drunk.

She was very comfortable chatting, it seemed. She had just flown in that day from Texas. She was in town for her niece's wedding. She talked and talked, her warm drawl nearly made comical by her inappropriate volume. I remember her asking me myriad questions about my life and then not doing a very good job of listening to the answer. She'd hear just enough to give herself a platform for hearing herself speak again, readily dispensing advice I hadn't asked for.

"Hey, have you heard of Dr. Phil?" she asked me, maybe 20 minutes after she'd arrived.

"Yes, of course," I said. This was before he had his own show, back when he was known for appearing regularly on Oprah.

"Well, I'm his sister," she said, sort of maybe trying to be discreet but failing miserably, and I realized immediately how much she looked like him. I almost said so, too, except I thought maybe that wasn't the best compliment to be paying her.

"Oh! Well..." and then I didn't know what to say. What do you say?

It didn't matter that I didn't know what to say, though, because once she had spilled the beans about her true identity, some sort of wildly inappropriate floodgates opened, and it was all downhill from there.

"We are very much alike," she offered, before launching into something about how both she and her brother are very, very interested in helping people. I remember trying to politely inquire as to whether she actually had any training or schooling related to therapy, and her replying along the lines of that being totally unnecessary.

So there I was. At my life's greatest crossroads, mourning the end of my marriage and celebrating the beginning of my best friend's. Figuring out the best way to grab hold of my youth and jump-start my life, while watching my mom fight the end of hers. I was excited and terrified, sad but hopeful, doing a damn good job of keeping my shit together.

And there she was. Drunk and getting drunker, sloppy and crass, carrying an air of grand and wholly unearned self-import. When I thought she was merely being friendly and had asked about me, I made the mistake of telling her I was getting divorced. And so she sat, delivering platitude after platitude, asking questions she didn't have any right to ask, carrying on about how love and life are. Doing me a favor, I'm sure she thought, imparting her great wisdom unto me.

Eventually I found a polite way to excuse myself, and I went back to my room.

All in all, my experience with Dr. Phil's Sister was fairly brief, but it sticks out in my head for the way it punctuated my stay. I may have only barely had a grasp on life and my place in it, my path through it...but you know? At least it was my own. And it seemed far more developed than hers.

Funny how that works.


  1. Too bad Dr. Phil wasn't there to talk his sister back onto the turnip truck.

    Don't ask. I have no idea.


  2. Do you think she really was? Or that maybe after many many years of being told everywhere she went that she looked like Dr. Phil she adopted this persona defensively? Hell, I think if I heard that enough times it would drive me to drink...

  3. good one. If you linked to a photo of her, that would be the best.

  4. lololol I am afraid I am going to have nightmares about Dr Phil. In a wig. Drunk. Thanks so much for that Kristy. If I wake up at 3am, I'm calling you to gripe about it.

  5. On one hand, I am offended at the audacity of the woman.. on the other hand I am lmfao because it never fails that someone will become famous and then their relatives get shit-faced and blow their credibility... Guess Dr. Phil didn't need much help, but still....

  6. i can't stand dr. phil. never could. not surprised his sister is as big of an ass as he is.

    oh how i hate that at such an important time in your life you had to listen to her crap.

    guess i hate even more that i too will most likely have dr. phil show up drunk in drag in a dream tonight. ick.

  7. God, I have actual hate towards Dr. Phil. There are people who have done awful things to me that I know in my regular life, and yet Dr. Phil I actually wish malice upon.

    Thank God I had not been there, because after the first "Hey, do you know Dr. Phil?" I would have certainly rolled my eyes, and said something about my astounding hatred for him.


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