“Mediocrity is a hand-rail.” ― Charles Louis De Secondat Montesquieu
I have never wanted to be ‘normal’ or mediocre and without even trying, have managed to excel at being, well, if you pardon the pun, queer. I will admit to trying to blend in for the sake of my sanity, but that is in the past. As Alice would put it, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” (Lewis Carroll,
But the older I get, the “curiouser and curiouser” I become, to quote from the same magnificent book. Partly intentional, to look the part (if you are queer, try and confuse ‘them’ by looking queer). But partly, well – because of… age? Having lost my marbles?
I have this need to know – why something happened, what went wrong in an accident, what motivates people to do things… Not the kind of water-cooler-gossip of who-is-cheating-on-whom, when-Julia’s-daughter-is-getting-married-and-what-the-reception-costs, etc. About those kinds of details I don’t give a damn, except when they involve my nearest and dearest. What can drive me to distraction, however, is something like the ploys behind acts of illusionists’ like David Copperfield, who among other things, made the Statue of Liberty disappear. I researched till I found out how he did it. Nope, he did not palm it.
I have always been infatuated by mystery and the uncommon – dragons for example (they deserve a post on their own). My need to know was not the reason behind me becoming a librarian, but knowing how to search before Google, did assist me in this thirst for knowledge (Dare I call raise it to that level? Or is it mere ordinary – ha! – curiosity?). The Nazca Lines fascinate me, like other natural? alien? phenomena. No wonder I devoured Erich von Däniken’s books as a child. And I would be ticked purple (never pink!) to be abducted by aliens.
Enough of that. On to another idiosyncrasy, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, whim, kink, mannerism, habit, characteristic, trait, feature, obsession, hang-up, thing, singularity… okay, okay, I know – you get the idea! “Kink”? Maybe not – too Fifty Shades… “Mannerism”? For obvious reasons, a great choice, but maybe “thing” is the most accurate.
I’ve always been a neat person. Not overly, as many spiders and dust bunnies will be able to witness, should you be obsessive enough to track them down and put them on the witness stand, but my living and working spaces were always orderly. I think one of the reasons why I chose Linguistics as my major, is the structure and order there is are languages.
And then I met B. The first time I visited her in her room in the university hostel, was a huge shock to my system. Most of her clothes were on the unmade bed, vying for space with banana and orange peels. All the cupboard doors stood open and there was barely space to walk on the floor. To her defense, she was suffering from severe depression at that time already.
After she moved in with me, not only did all my plants die (I still tease her about that!), but she also tried her best to at least put her clothes inside the cupboards. Closing the doors took a few years longer, but she closes them now all the time. The inside of the cupboards? Let’s not go there… It is her space, her choice. And no, I did not coerce her into being neater. I prefer to think it rubbed off on her.
I don’t watch much TV, but I do follow some programs where being able to hear the conversation does not matter much. Recently I have taken an interest in the “Hoarders” and “Extreme Clutter” kind of programs. I find it hugely satisfying to see how chaos is transformed into clean and neat living areas.
But what is concerning me, is that lately I find myself unable to settle at night if things are not where they should be (a place for everything and everything in it’s place, as my mom taught me). When we get back from vacation, the suitcases have to be unpacked and everything put away before I can relax, no matter how tired I am. I’m not quite at the stage where the dishes must be washed before settling down at night (another memory of my mother – those were the days when doctors still did house visits – “Pack it away! What will the doctor / minister think if one of us falls ill at night?!”
So I am becoming a little concerned. I have to stop myself arranging stuff on my desk at right angles and leaving everything just so when I leave my office. I have visions of what tennis followers call Rafael Nadal’s “mannerisms” (nice word!) manifesting themselves in my life. There are already some (many?) ‘peculiarities of action’ (stop me before I go off on a tangent (thesaurus?) again!) in my life.
- The toilet paper must roll back to front – I will switch the roll around wherever I go.
- Any padlock must lock right to left, not left to right.
- My coffee mug must always stand to the left of B’s when I make coffee.
- I always put on my left shoe first.
- Tins and other containers with labels must face right side up and to the front in cupboards and I will never open them on the bottom side.
- I put the chutney (and other condiments) bottle on its top when it is almost empty and then transfer the last few drops to the new bottle. And scrape out any remnants with a teaspoon. (Ah – that is merely frugal!)
- I straighten paintings on other people’s walls. And then wince as B kicks me on the shin, but she does the same – when they are not looking, however. I do it in plain sight. Our paintings are always straight – unlike the occupants of the home.
- I stick the last soppy bit of a bar of soap onto a new bar, where it instantly becomes pebble hard. Is there a scientific reason for this oddity?
- Um.. I’d better stop here. Nine is an odd number.
Please tell me I am not anal-retentive (Hello, Freud! And no, I did NOT check if the word has a hyphen or not!). Please assure me I am not screwed and I am just somewhat meticulous and a little skewed… NO, it is not OCD – in any case, it should be CDO – I’m a librarian and I alphabetize!
“Certainly that sputterless little candleflame of the mediocre mind known as ‘common sense’ has never produced anything worth celebrating”. ~ Tom Robbins
How about you? What do you do that might be a a wee bit anal-retentive? Or are you shaking your head in disgust at wasting time reading a post about essentially nothing? Well, here’s another nugget: I get bored easily.
Note: Pooch has not yet started exhibiting some of these habits listed in the blog post Ten Ways Your Dog is Telling You You’re A Compulsive Neat Freak. If she does, I know I am doomed.