My Pez dispenser of anxiety


Jeffrey Denny
5 min readApr 19, 2024


More than 200% of Americans are anxious, according to a study by the American Psychological Association.

“We’re not saying everyone’s anxious so psychologists can make more money treating anxiety,” APA President Dr. Richard Thorndyke, chief administrator of the Mel Brooks Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous, explained. “That’s you acting out your anxiety. Get help.”

Today’s youth are especially anxious, the APA says. Gen Z is the first generation in history to face war, poverty, hate, a tough economy, Mideast conflict, and the threat of global annihilation.

Even if they’re not personally affected by these threats, today’s innocent youth we taught to believe are smarter than any generation are victimized by addictive phones we foisted that feed them a constant stream of triggering, terrifying and traumatizing news they curate by clicking on it.

Anxious youth also deal with anxious parents, Gen Z TikTok beauty influencers/shamers, keeping up with Gen Z lingo, and clickbait that says everyone’s anxious and they should be too. If they feel Larry David pretty pretty pretty good and fail to self-diagnose everyday worries as clinical anxiety, then they’re in potentially deadly denial.

Let me tell you about my anxiety.

In a breakthrough session, my anxiety therapist finally confessed that she secretly nicknamed me “Woody Allen” and regaled dinner parties with hilarious stories about our sessions that I thought were private. Even when I was at those dinners as her date.

At a subsequent breakthrough session, I worked up the courage to admit that calling me Woody Allen made me anxious. Turning the tables, I asked, “How does that make you feel?”

She finally confessed that I don’t have real anxiety. I’m just inventing and playing up garden-variety neuroses to entertain her like the famed filmmaker, actor and comedian did to cook lobster for Annie Hall. And not real anxiety like when his adopted daughter accused him of sexual assault.

So no, she said, same as always, no Lexapro for you.

“Shrink Nazi,” I muttered as I wrote her another check my insurance won’t cover as we planned another lovely dinner date I would also pay for.

My anxiety therapist did give me one invaluable insight:

I suffer from what the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders calls the “Pez Dispenser of Anxiety,” or PDA.

In psychological terms, this PDA is not Wilmer Valderrama and Amanda Pacheco — whoever they are — “caught” getting smoochy at the Oscars.

Symptoms of Pez Dispenser of Anxiety include:

— You have a spring-loaded stack of anxieties that you loaded yourself by pulling your head off your body. At least it feels that way, so it’s true.

— You deal with the top anxiety and another is prioritized right behind it ad infinitom, pardon my misspelled Latin.

— You feel like you have a big cartoon head on a featureless body. And you lack human agency and feel cheap as if anyone could pick you up at Dollar Tree at the Biden inflation $1.99.

— You frequent Pez Medical Dispensaries for bespoke Pez highs such as, “Fooling Therapist You’re Not High on Pez.”

— You wake at night in a sweat that you said something stupid, did something stupid, and ruined your life with your stupidity. In those sleepless hours, words from your anxiety therapist offer a soothing mantra: “Yep. Haha. You did.”

— You’re anxious someone will steal your movie idea. Mine is: A Pez animated rom-com action thriller foreign independent indigenous culture deep-thinker, tear-jerker confusing zen haunting laugh-riot awards-sweeping cinematic triumph. Cinéma that will roll Jean-Luc Godard in his grave, stew Rotten Tomatoes like a Godfathers red sauce, and inspire bores to bore even more. Nobody will Netflix or Hulu it as the best movie anyone never saw yet can’t remember.

“Tell me more about this Pez Dispenser movie,” my anxiety therapist said.

Her sudden interest made me anxious. Yet in her grip, I explained:

The Pez (voiced by Christian Bale) settles for The Peep, a fundamentalist Christian Trumper (Jessica Chastain) who’s grown stale and hard.

But in his secret shameful visits to an arthouse cinema in the woke multicultural, gender-fluid part of the nearby crime-ridden pedophile abortion Democrat city, The Pez meets The Original Box of Red Hots (a winky cameo by Supreme Court Justice Amy Conan Barrett) at the candy counter.

Their forbidden love makes The Pez’s palate burn and eyes water in a delightful way. But their Twixting faces a romantic roadblock when Red Hots says, “Give me a break, KitKat.”

You can guess what happens. (Spoiler alert: The Peep wins back The Pez by admitting in therapy she’s more of a Constitutional originalist than a hardcore Christian Trump Peep and also melts under heat. She only lied for love, which is ok in rom-coms.)

Along the way, we meet many delicious candy characters:

Snickers (voiced by Tucker Carlson, with his usual fistful of nuts)

Blow Pop (Sean Hannity, who begged to be in this.)

Tootsie Pop (Dustin Hoffman, who else?)

Baby Ruth (AI Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.)

Smarties (Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Leon and Susie from “Curb”.)

— Junior Mints (a certain billionaire comedian, an oxymoron.)

— Sour Patch Kids (the latest Fox & Friends.)

— Butterfinger (Mike Myers in a new Austin Powers Bond parody milking the franchise.)

— Jolly Rancher (Beyoncé, who else?)

— Haribo (Snoop with his new strategic collaboration with the popular gummies.)

— Almond Joy (Larry David, because sweet buttery Spanish Marcona almonds bring him joy.)

— 3 Musketeers (Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, not Chevy Chase since he’s awful to work with and Gomez brings a milk chocolate coating to the Martin-Short nougat.)

“Interesting,” my anxiety therapist said interestingly.

“But did you know a Pez movie was pitched nine years ago and never went anywhere?”

“I did not know that,” I replied in my best impression of an impressionist doing Johnny Carson. “Thanks for killing my dreams as usual. So, dinner later?”

Jeffrey Denny is a psychology healthy Washington writer.



Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.