Wednesday, January 18, 2012
You don't fare well for a person like me. Little ones are enough to bring on the jitters; bigger ones raise the mercury in the sphygmomanometer.
Jackets hung on the backs of chairs but drag on the floor make me wince. Handbags placed on the floor puzzle me. Pants that are so long that the cuffs go under the heel of shoes truly challenge my mental state of health. Nicely put, I like to take care of my belongings. Not-so-nicely-put, I suffer from a moderate case of OCD. That is not to say that my house is always clean. But when it's not clean, you'd better bet that anxiety starts to claw at my lazy bum until it hurts enough to do something about it.
On our day off from school, I had lunch with a friend (and all our kiddos) at an Asian supermarket food court. The drill is, we meet for lunch, then walk through the market to get some groceries, buy some bread from the bakery, and then have ice cream for dessert back at the food court. As the kids ate their ice cream, my friend and I started a conversation -- related to my OCD -- about entertaining people at home. She hosts Thanksgiving every year, and her headcount is up in the forties. As I picked my jaw up from my lap upon hearing this, I felt the need to explain that we do entertain, but only one or two families at a time, because that is all the sanity I can handle. On holidays, we have a good dozen people at the dinner table, but it is just family.
Dear Son then handed me his ice cream. I was counting on finishing off his leftovers. I had my knee-length white down jacket rolled up in my lap (since it cannot hang on the back of my chair), so I picked up my handbag and placed it on top of my jacket to dig out my lactase (I also suffer from the Asian dairy curse). I looked down at the contents in my purse and was momentarily bewildered. Hmmm. Why does everything have a tinge of purple? When I touched the zippered bag that holds the lactase, my fingertips registered wetness. Then I looked at the juice box that laid sideways on top of everything and realized that the little foil straw opening was broken. My heart sank the way roller coasters take your body on its first downward dive.
When we left our table after lunch, I picked up Dear Daughter's juice box -- which felt full -- and tossed it into my purse thinking it had not been opened. I could have sworn that the foil opening looked intact at the time. So basically, that box had been sloshing around in my bag for a good twenty minutes, thus showing off its spilled contents in a pool of purplish-red liquid at the bottom of one compartment in my purse. I should have left my jaw where it was. I know the only reason I did not lose it right then and there was because I had a great friend consoling me and telling me a very logical solution: take the bag to a dry cleaner. Because, of course, my bag just took my brain out of my head and stomped on it repeatedly, and mushy brains do not create logical thinking.
As I tried to hold myself together to clean out the pool of liquid, I realized that it had soaked through the bottom of my bag, showing stain marks on the leather and fabric outside, as well as the white down jacket rolled up in a ball on my lap. All the air just voluntarily exited my lungs.
This New Year has not started off well for the OCD in me. First, I washed and dried a load of laundry with a Hershey's Kisses in it, causing streaks of chocolate on every single piece of garment in the load. Then on another occasion, I washed and dried all our winter jackets to realize that DD's lip balm was still in her pocket. (Thank GOODNESS the cap stayed on.) And now this nightmare of a juice box story. You'd think someone with OCD wouldn't commit these crimes, so imagine the horror and the self-blame when they do happen.
So, Mishap, your occurrences not only bring about anxiety and grief, but also the tantalizing reminder that I am aging, and, slowly but surely, losing it. But I do not surrender. In reliving this most recent mishap, it occurs to me that I tossed the juice box into one compartment of my purse, and not the other, with clear intent and will. The other compartment holds my pristine wallet (an anniversary gift), my cell phone, and my Bluetooth earpiece. Without a doubt in my mind, I know my OCD made that happen. Because I always see three words that flash inside my head: JUST IN CASE.