Sunday, 5 July 2015

Possible Pottiness


A little while ago my daughter cracked a joke – or so I thought – resulting in me laughing out loud.  She’d opened a small packet of oatcakes, then looked at them incredulously and said, ‘What person in their right mind thinks it’s okay to put an odd number of biscuits into a packet?’  Her reasoning was that if she ate three biscuits a day, she’d have one left over. Or if she ate two biscuits a day, she’d have one left over.
          ‘Does it matter?’ I asked.
          ‘Of course!’ Eleanor cried.  ‘Who wants to have a day where there is only one biscuit?’
          I’d shrugged and thought fair enough.  But then again, that would never happen to me because I’d be a piggy and eat all seven in one go.  Problem instantly resolved!
          Last week Eleanor was given a large box of chocolates.  She kept them in her room where Mr V and I wouldn’t see them!  However, I had to go into her bedroom for something and there on her desk, in all its enticing glory, were the chocolates.  Well, I’m sorry, but I’m only human.  So I lifted off the lid and took one.  When my daughter came home, she knew.
          ‘You’ve had one of my chocolates!’
          ‘But you don’t mind, do you?’
          ‘Yes!’
          ‘It was only one,’ I replied indignantly.  ‘Can’t you spare one teeny chocolate for your sugar-deprived mother who was having a major withdrawal moment and suffering the shakes?’ (Sometimes I have to lay things on thick in order to get my own way.)
          ‘Of course I don’t mind you having a chocolate,’ Eleanor said, ‘but I do mind you destroying my pattern.’
          ‘Pattern?’
          ‘Yes, pattern!  Look, you’ve messed up the pattern.’
          I peered at the chocolates and, sure enough, I could see they’d been eaten in a particular order so a square always remained.  And suddenly it dawned on me my daughter had a touch of OCD.  How many times has she chided me for not wrapping presents ‘correctly’ and having patterned wrapping paper lining up in a certain way before the Sellotape goes on?  Or putting colourful stickers on the envelopes of, say, birthday cards, again arranged in a particular pattern?
          Laughingly, I told my husband about it.  He actually looked quite concerned.  ‘It’s not such a funny subject.  I know somebody who started off like that and now she’s getting divorced because she does all sorts of obsessional things and her husband says he’s had enough.’
          But haven’t we all got a touch of OCD?  I like my wardrobes and kitchen cupboards to be orderly.  What goes under the sink doesn’t matter too much – cleaning fluid, cloths, scourers, and rubber gloves all jostle together in a happy muddle – but coat hangers have to face the same way in wardrobes and I like things in regimental rows in my china and condiments cupboards.  Heaven help the person who grabs a tin of baked beans but then changes their minds and shoves the tin back in any old how.
          Despite my daughter’s pattern fetish, it doesn’t extend to the arrangement of china in the kitchen cupboards. I can always tell when she’s emptied the dishwasher because stone mugs are mixed up with porcelain teacups and it looks, well, plain wrong!
          ‘You’re not without your own funny ways,’ Eleanor pointed out.
          ‘Who, me?’ I asked incredulously.
          ‘You always insist people wash their hands as soon as they get in through the front door.’
          ‘That’s simply to avoid grubby fingerprints over the paintwork!’
          ‘Well that might have been fine when I was six, but I’m nearly eighteen…and so are my friends!’
          ‘So I don’t want big grubby fingerprints all over the paintwork!’
          ‘And you always clean the toilet if a stranger uses it.’
          ‘Because he might have germs!’
          ‘Different germs to us?’
          ‘Yes!  Anyway, I’ve had enough of this conversation.’
          ‘And look how you are about the cat,’ my daughter was almost rubbing her hands together as she warmed to the subject.
          ‘What about the cat?’
          ‘You’re incapable of putting any laundry into the washing machine or tumble dryer without checking at least three times that Dolly isn’t inside either machine.  In fact I’d say you’re quite neurotic about it.’
          I held up a finger.  ‘That’s because I know somebody who scooped up a pile of laundry, chucked it in the washing machine and their kitten happened to have curled up inside the laundry pile.  And no,’ I caught Eleanor’s horrified expression, ‘the kitten didn’t die, thank God, because the woman saw its anxious little face peering at her through the glass door as the water level began to rise.  But it could have been disastrous.’
          Eleanor looked relieved but wasn’t going to let me off so lightly.  ‘The thing is, Mum, you still check the washing machine and tumble dryer when Dolly is sitting right next to you watching what you’re doing.’
          She has a point.  So I checked out OCD on Google.  It was quite revealing.  Here are the common ones:
          Handwashing.  (No comment.)
          Organising wardrobes.  (No comment.)
          Worrying about accidents and excessively checking things.  (*gulps*…no comment.)
          Organisation of cupboards to include lines of symmetry.  (*getting a bit sweaty*…no comment.)
          Putting things in patterns.  (Hurrah, innocent, but over to you, Eleanor!).
          So, clearly I’m half-way down a slippery slope and my daughter has started to topple off it.  Excuse me while I make our appointments to see a therapist.  Which reminds me.
          Did you hear about the person suffering from CDO?  It’s like OCD but the letters are in alphabetical order.  LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE…