The Asylum in Trude

“The Traumhaus was highly selective.  According to a Trumpet survey, one out of three Trudians felt that they could benefit from a stay there, but the ratio of admission was much lower than that––a far cry from the somewhat sluttish admissions policy at Trude U.  The whole process was shrouded in secrecy.  There is no clear science to it.  Sociopaths, schizophrenics, the baroquely mad, were not admitted.  Adolescents were not admitted.  Illiterates were not admitted.  Religious fanatics were not admitted, unless they had personalized their delusions in some compelling way.  The average old were not admitted.  Contented people were generally not admitted, though there were some exceptions.  Typically depressed middle-aged males were not admitted.  My own application to the Traumhaus, honed in the wake of Molly’s disappearance, had been classified in this last category.  It still stung.  I consoled myself by using my visiting privileges three times a week.  The Traumhaus seemed to be the only place where I could find peace.  In the autumn its birches turned yellow and burnt orange, complementing the dark green of the pines almost too well.

“To the charge that it was an ‘elitist institution,’ the Traumhaus responded with tranquil silence.  As the reflection of the building in its pond suggested a castle, an element of gentility clung to the place.  Though I might feel privileged each time I passed through the double doors, there was a sense in which I remained excluded, unselected.  Some who had been living at the Traumhaus for years continued to feel this way at times.  This largely had to do with the presence of the so-called Pinkies, a select caste within Traumhaus culture.  They were special beneficiaries of Bernhard’s will.  It was easy to recognize them by their distinctive shuffling step, their looks to devastation, and the pink bathrobes they wore at all times––markers of a twenty-four-hour suicide watch.  These pampered disconsolates wore clear plastic slippers and received their breakfasts on silver trays.  They occupied the best rooms, overlooking the pond: the Robert Walser Room, the Klaus Mann Chamber, and the Schreber Suite, where Bernhard had spent the last months of his life.  Pinkies were a rare sighting in the Wittgenstein Lounge or any of the other public areas.  When they passed, slippers squeaking on the linoleum, the other residents went silent and gawked at these suffering virtuosos––increasing, one can only imagine, the burden of disappointment and loneliness that had made them Pinkies in the first place.”

~Eric Lundgren, The Facades

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