Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's your OCD potential?

There is an old woman...

She careens wildly between selfish, self-centered, and kind, generous.

The problem with calling her kind and generous is the fact that very often her kindness and generosity are done for the benefit of others watching; and for what she can get in return later.

The problem with calling her selfish and self-centered is the fact that she has lots of medical and personal problems, as well as a few personality problems (don't we all), and one of those problems is that right now she is covered from head to toe (and willing to tell you all about it) with a godawful, stomach-turning rash.

I can personally vouch for it being stomach turning. She likes to sit near me while I'm eating dinner at the cafe and tell me all about it. Sometimes I can tune her out, like when she goes on and on about the problems with her doctor. But when she insists on talking about her diarrhea while I'm trying to eat a sandwich, well, you get the picture, I'm prone to dropping the sandwich on the counter unfinished and leaving as quickly as possible. Of course, that might be her goal-- she's a pretty weird old bird.

Anyway, she likes to sit and talk to me in the cafe about her medical stuff, and while that's fine if we're talking about arthritis or heart attacks or there's more doctors in her stable than there are changes in the weather, the thing about the rash is... I can see it. There is evidence of it over every visible inch of her. Ears, eyes, scalp, neck, face, fingers, nose, wrists, arms. There is a part of me that is still trying to figure out why she wasn't quarantined until they pinpointed the problem, just in case. Other customers are literally asking if it's leprosy. And she sits there in the middle of the cafe and revels in it. Personally, I would have to be hospitalized. If not for the rash itself, then at least for the insanity that I would unarguably suffer as a result.

So here we have me, in the cafe eating my meal of the day, and then she appears, like a scaly demon shedding her human skin and waiting to pop out and torment me. And she sits next to me and regales me with the latest news of her medical ailments. And again I am reminded that every time I see her with this rash, I want to run screaming for the nearest antiseptic tank and throw myself into it. Will in fact run home and shower immediately following her insistence on hugging me which, excuse me, she never, ever did prior to having this rash. Yuck? But of course, she's old, sick, grumpy, and occasionally very nice for no reason at all. So I have to mind my manners. I take the hug. I go home and shower. Immediately. Faster than that if possible.

I don't like germs or bugs.
I don't like evidence of germs or bugs.
I don't like being reminded of the existence of germs and bugs.

Caterpillars and butterflies are not actually bugs, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. Neither are ladybugs or fireflies or most moths. After that it starts to get a little hazy and I try not to think too hard about it because if I do I will feel obligated to go take a shower and scream.

I don't have to wash my hands 1800 times a day, although there are times when it seems like I'm going to. Part of what keeps me from doing it, actually, is the knowledge that:

a) If I wash my hands 1800 times a day, my skin will dry out and crack and then I will run the risk of getting infections in my fingers. That's beyond gross. No thank you.

b) If I wash my hands 1800 times a day, I will be touching the dirty faucets far more times than necessary. This thought usually makes me scrub the sink. Since I can't take the taps and faucet apart every time I want to clean the sink, and yes, I want to, I opt to not touch it unless necessary. Germs can be avoided by not touching things.

But those are germs, and germs are difficult to quantify without the mind-numbing use of the words "all things and everywhere", and not every Germ-laden situation allows me the luxury of dictating how I will deal with it. For example, my boss walking in to the office and announcing on a Monday morning how horribly sick he was all weekend, and then turning from his desk to mine (a matter of literally, 2 paces) to pick up the phone and talk to a customer. Not sure what was wrong with his phone or why he wanted so desperately to make me ill, but since I couldn't act upon my preference and hit him over the head with the receiver when he was finished, I did the second best thing and used an alcohol swab on it. When he wasn't looking. So he wouldn't know he got to me. Because that's what he likes to do.

Those are germs. I am not allowed to contemplate germs. I will develop nervous tics if I contemplate them. Because of the invisibility factor. Bugs on the other hand, while pretty much darned everywhere, have a much higher visibility factor, and while you never really know what they're going to do, you can depend on certain qualities: They're Evil. They're Mindless. They're Intent on Their Own Survival. Not cute like the cartoony movies. Not singing and dancing while they take over the world. Just eating, sleeping, breeding, and spreading disease. Feel free to stop me at any time.

Incidentally, unless you've had to have ants removed from your ears with tweezers, you really can't fathom where this comes from. I'm not going to tell you how cosmically revolting it is to feel an ant walking around in your nose, let alone several of them. I'm not even going to tell you whether or not the hair on the back of my neck is standing up right now.

But I am going to go take a shower. Immediately.


Liquid said...

Thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of this writing from word one she flowed to the end, leaving me with a smile on my face, and of course, running to the shower.

* * * said...

I still can't re-read it LOL!!