OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Damnation, or One Crazy Disorder
Posted November 2, 2009on:
OCD is One Crazy Disorder.
True, I have a rather mild case of it when you put me up against Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, but it’s still a major pain in the ass because I don’t get to pick and choose my manifestations. It’s a bizarre affliction, and unfortunately, the older I get, the more wacked-out I become, and the more I resemble my grandmother. (The wiry gray hairs are moving me in that general direction, too.)
My grandmother was a clean-freak. She had a ‘dirty’ sink and a ‘clean’ sink, and God help you if you tried to wash a head of lettuce (NO FEWER than 3 times, mind you) in the ‘dirty’ side, she’d go into an apoplectic fit – and then wrap up the entire head of lettuce, double-bag it, and throw it in the trash.
I remember helping her dry dishes. Because I could never sit still (and because each dish had to scrubbed and rinsed again and again), I had plenty of time in between plates to toss and twirl my tee towel all around the kitchen. I swear the old broad had eyes in the back of her head, or maybe her extreme OCD had provided her with a sixth sense — if even THE FRINGE on the towel glanced the floor or any ‘unclean’ surface, Grandma (still washing – with her back to me) would tell me to get a new towel. I swear — I have used as many as five different towels in one dish-washing session at 310 Cleveland Street.
After a while, testing her nifty little third-eye gift became a game;
she never lost.
How that woman was able to tolerate a little girl’s half-assed dry-job on plates from which she ate, I’ll never know; my best guess is that after I left, she went back and rewashed the whole lot.
Grandma never learned how to drive. My parents had to schlep her all over town for groceries and hair and doctor appointments. Never once did I hear them complain. That’s a wonder considering that taking Grandma ANYWHERE was a time-consuming, patience-testing endeavor.
There WAS no ‘quick trip’ with Grandma.
When we’d arrive at Grandma’s house, my dad, brother and I would sit in the parked car while my mother went in to fetch her mother. We would settle in for a long wait. We knew that inside, Mom was going through ‘the checklist’ with Grandma, checking and rechecking every light, electrical and water source, every major and minor appliance (even those she didn’t even use that day — or that month, for that matter) and every point of entry into the house.
Fifteen to twenty minutes later, Mom and Grandma would emerge, lock up with skeleton keys, and waddle down to the car for the FIRST time.
Mom and Grandma would get in the car, Grandma would kiss and love on us and exchange pleasantries with Dad and start passin’ out the Certs and Sen Sen. Dad would start the car.
On cue, Grandma would say, “Oh, Dixie, I don’t think I checked my oven. Did you check my oven? I don’t know if my oven is still on or not. Denny, I think my oven is still on. I better go check.”
Dad would kill the engine, slump his shoulders, and say, “Well, Alice, maybe you should go check and make sure.”
Now, not that my father was a chauvinist pig for not checking for her; it would have done no good to even offer. And despite Mom’s every reassurance that she did indeed turn off the oven, and that everything on her checklist was hunkey-dorey, Grandma had to be certain. She had to see with her own eyes.
So, up the steps they would go, reopen the house, go through the checklist again, and amble back down to the car 10-15 minutes later.
Mom and Grandma would get back in the car, we’d do the whole Certs routine again, the car would start, and at the start of the engine, as predictable as a Pavlovian dog, Grandma would worry over her back door. Or the iron. Or the washing machine. Or the window in the back bedroom — it might rain.
My mother and grandmother would reenter the house and car no fewer than 3 times.
That 3rd time did seem to be the charm; after that, when Dad started the car, a palpable silence would fall upon us as we held our breath, hoping against all hope, that Grandma’s worry would let us leave — a half hour to an hour after we’d gotten there.
I thank my lucky stars I didn’t get that from Grandma (hell, I’m late enough FOR EVERYTHING as it is; the fuckin’ stove is on its own).
I did, however, inherit her hand-washing, germaphobia and the propensity to spend hours in the mirror in search of pimples that MUST BE PURGED.
Nor did I get Grandma’s cleanliness gene; that poor woman is wringing her hands in Heaven over the layers of dust and piles of clutter in my home. Unfortunately, you do not get to pick your passion with OCD — how I wish I could obsess over my fuzzy shutters; I let them go for so long that I don’t dust them — I chisel.
In my early married (and living-in-sin-oh-my!) days, cleanliness WAS my thing. Not a speck of dust, not an errant hair on the bathroom floor, nor a smudgey window could be found. True, I didn’t have a whole lot TO clean, but cleaning USED to be one of my manifestations. I would gather all of my supplies — one or two of every household cleaning product on the market — and set them out on the bathroom counter — in the order I would use them.
I would don my rubber gloves and then turn on my VHS of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and dash back to the bathroom.
I had my apartment-cleaning perfectly timed and choreographed with the cartoon musical.
I knew at what stage of the process I had to be for every line to every blasted song and bit of dialogue in the film. If, perhaps, I had slipped, fallen and broken my arm while scrubbing the shower, I would have scrubbed through the pain and worked harder to catch back up to the next song.
Bleeding of any manner would have slowed me down considerably, given the fact that I would have had to scrub the surface and disinfect and rinse, but I’d have somehow made up for lost time. NOTHING could slow me down. I was just like Marge Simpson — where the world is blowing up around her, but first, she just needs to finish doing the dishes before she takes cover.
Once the M & Ms came into my life, that cleaning bullshit went out the window. Somehow, my mind went into ultra-protection mode, knowing it could never bear the strain of adhering to its stringent cleaning rituals with two slobbery, messy kids around. My OCD simply manifested in other areas, and now the dust in my home bothers me only a little.
I’m pretty sure it went straight to LAUNDRY, though.
Back when The Dingus and I lived in the Beauty and the Beast apartment, we had to use the on-site communal laundromat. It was great because, in one evening, I could knock out a week’s worth of dirty clothes in one fell swoop. Laundry night was a pleasant, relaxing couple of hours during which I could get in a shitload of reading.
Since the M & Ms have come along, my OCD demon terrorizes me when it comes to laundry.
I have ridiculous, bizarre, strict rituals that must be followed.
The Dingus is not allowed to touch any laundry except to fold HIS items (and he fucks those up, too, but I can tolerate that).
Stained and soiled items must be soaked in OxyClean for at least a day and then scrubbed with Lava and/or Fels Naptha and any one of the many scrub brushes at the ready at my sink. I USE the old washboard hanging in my laundry room.
I channel Lady Macbeth;
ALL STAINS MUST COME OUT!
Because in my current home I have a very tiny closet-laundry room (and because I have my pal Paxil), I can tolerate having only 2 or 3 ‘soaking buckets’ going at one time. In my last house, my laundry room took up a third of my basement. I had a HUGE cement sink and tons of square footage to store my ‘soaking buckets’.
At one point, The Dingus came into the laundry room and said,
“Jesus! You need help; this laundry thing is out of hand….”
I was standing in the middle of 13 ‘soaking buckets’, and I was crying because I had literally scrubbed layers of skin off my hands —
and I had SO MUCH MORE SCRUBBING TO DO.
Shortly after that, my doctor officially diagnosed me, and introduced me to my happy pills— which take some of the evil out of my demon.
Nowadays, I cannot afford to miss a day of soaking or scrubbing or washing a few loads; when I get backed up, it can take MONTHS to get caught up. This is why we all have scads of clothes. My kids are lucky to get to wear a new favorite outfit once in a season; God forbid they stain it, ’cause they may not see said outfit until next season rolls around.
I despise my laundry issues (and ALL of my OCD issues); I hate that I am a SLAVE to my fucked-up mind.
But I can do NOTHING to stop myself from being this way.
I can say that though Paxil is my best friend, but my buddies Nick O’Tine and Trench Mouth get me through the day, too.
I have just finished my summer loads — and I’m quite proud of myself. It’s not even Christmas!
Other wacked-out issues The Viv owns (with much reluctance) follow:
*** Please note that these are “THE BIGGIES“; The Viv has myriad others, but these are those that if not observed and/or followed to the nth degree are GUARANTEED the throw The Viv into a panicked paroxysm. Thereafter, death by anxiety may ensue.
* Rinsing all glasses before drinking from them (even if just removed from the dishwasher) — why, there may be dust and fuzzies on them!
* The drinking of any liquid from a plastic cup is abhorrent and utterly unacceptable. Paper, waxed or otherwise, is acceptable only on a case-by-case-no-other-choice-available basis.
* I have a “No ‘FRINGIES’ rule”: No papers of any kind may be in my presence with those ripped-from-a-spiral-bound-notebook-uneven-and-unnerving-flyaway-‘fringies’ — I have actually gagged and retched IN CLASS when I’ve seen them about to be turned-in by some smart-ass 7th grader trying to fuck with me. Any student I’ve ever had who had any hope of passing my class knows that one must use scissors to evenly trim any errant fringies — as close to the 3 notebook holes as humanly possible — before submitting them.
* Every last possible trace of any product must be coaxed, shaken, scraped and dredged from its container; NO WASTE! If industrial-strength wire cutters and/or jackhammering is required in order to open up a container in order to get to said product is necessary; so be it, it will be done.
* All food and household products must be stored with like products in a linear fashion; product labels must face forward.
* ALL laundry must be completed, from start to finish, by The Viv ONLY. No one else may ‘help’.
* All towels must be folded and properly stored by The VIV’. Towels that are folded and stored by someone other than The Viv, say someone such as The Dingus, perhaps, must be refolded and restored by color, size and style by The Viv. Word to the wise: This is NOT ‘helping’ The Viv.
* ALL skin imperfections must be dealt with in a timely, time-consuming fashion. The evil must come out. Though scabbing and eventual scarring is imminent, all blemishes must be banished. All home-extraction tools and devices must be properly sanitized before, during and after usage. Proper storage of said implements must follow.
* All writing utensils,scissors and sharp objects must be stored point-down.
* Bed pillows must be placed upon made-beds with pillow cases’ open ends facing away from bed-center. The Viv requires one pillow to be placed flat against the headboard during sleep sessions — preventing the occasional spider which may — you never know — climb up from the floor to creep and crawl about the hands and face. It could happen.
* No item of furniture may be angled in any way. The sole exception: the current entertainment center; there is no other possible option — a fact which required more than a month of hand-wringing anxiety and doubling-up on the meds for The Viv to tolerate.
* Rituals and routines (such as hand-washing and bathing, dressing and undressing — beginning with the left-side of the body) must be strictly adhered-to. Any variance, interruption and/or unforeseen circumstance that may prevent strict adherence to routine will result in the reversal and restart of said routine and/or ritual.
* Only ‘TRUE GARBAGE’ may be purged. Any item that may have a future use of any kind must be saved; however, at present, these items require no strict, specific storage regulations.
* Footwear must be worn at all times — exceptions may be made for bathing and swimming in pools only. The soles of The Viv’s feet may not come in contact with dust, grime, crumbs, or under-foot surface of any kind. When exiting tub, shower or pool, footwear must be as close to the point-of-exit as possible. If proximity is not possible; rugs and/or towels may be used as a walking surface. In this case, the traveling path must be planned and executed to ensure the shortest distance to footwear and resultant relief.
MOTHER OF ALL:
*** At no time may there be fewer than 2 rolls of paper towels in The Viv’s permanent domicile and/or temporary residence. If traveling overnight, no fewer than 2 complete rolls must accompany The Viv.
‘Picking some up’ on the way or at destination point is utterly unacceptable.
*** The Viv becomes anxious and edgy when in possession of only 3 rolls of paper towels.
*** Should The Viv possess only 2 full-rolls of paper towels, the purchase of additional rolls must be made right-fuckin’-quick.
This is a dangerous time for The Viv and for anyone in her presence. At this point, an audible ‘hum’ — akin to that warning hum of the electrical-fence-dog-collar should the animal enter the ‘warning zone’ and be zapped with the next forward step — can be heard and felt emanating from The Viv.
*** Should, GOD FORBID, The Viv possess fewer than 2 full rolls, clear, rational thought, speech and actions are not possible at this point. There is a very real danger of The Viv bursting into flame. No living being is safe in her presence at this precipice.
Why, in the name of all that is holy, I have a paper towel problem,
I know not.
Running out of Kleenex (or Wal-Mart’s Great Value Sand Paper Facial Tissues — my brand of choice) or bum-fodder worries me not in the least.
I could have nothing but the cardboard roll with which to wipe my sorry OCD ass, and I would remain thoroughly unconcerned.
Paper towels are my Achille’s Hell.
*** When considering a visit to The Viv’s humble abode, the surest way to guarantee your own safety (and that of your progeny) is to:
a) proffer a Bounty bundle pack after ringing the doorbell, THEN hold your breath and hope for the best;
b) proffer a Bounty bundle pack , ring the doorbell and THEN touch the doorknob; if it is HOT, drop the fuckin’ towels and run like hell.
(it’s not worth it)