posted by: audra
so, i’ve been fretting & fretting about not feeling creative enough to even compose an email this past week. seriously you guys, all this laying about & drinking has really put me through the wringer. and speaking of wringing & fretting(!) i met my first ocd plagued person today! like, a real one — totally howard hughesed out & everything! i’m so proud.
it happened this morning at work. a most lovely older woman stopped in & brought her son; michael i think was his name. she introduced me, & i went to cordially shake his hand. he started to extend his hand hesitantly, then hastily retracted it into a fist & said, “i’m ocd. i don’t shake hands.” thinking he may possibly be kidding, i giggled nervously. he giggled nervously as well. then he offered a fist-bump. i accepted.
the crazy ones are always attracted to me, so we got to talking. i would’ve guessed this fellow was in his mid to late thirties, but as he was talking about his son who just turned 18, & how he had been married for 19 years, i was taken aback. “really?! but you look so young!” “i’m 47.” oh yes. you see, this is his first holiday season without his wife, because they are getting divorced. it will be finalized on wednesday. he seemed happy about this. he asked me about my new year’s eve & such. there was more small-talk. then he felt he needed to fill me in on his ocd troubles. the new meds seem to be working better, but…
“sometimes i need to wash my hands four or five times before leaving a bathroom! i just have to. there are germs everywhere!”
god, he would quail in disgust if he saw some of the loos i’ve frequented(!). sometimes there’s not even the option of soap. anyway, it doesn’t stop at the compulsive hand-washing with him; it’s counting steps, number of times he blinks, chews, all sorts of shit. then he proceeded to explain how he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as well…and as he was explaining the ptsd stuff to me, i noticed his hands were all inky looking, but i didn’t want to stare. it might give him another complex. he was sort of wringing his hands, & must’ve noticed my glance linger on his dirty little digits. apparently, he’s in the process of staining some cabinets at home & expressed to me that the stains on his hands are killing him.
“i scrub & scrub…it just won’t come off…”
why didn’t he wear gloves for the cabinet-staining project? would it make him feel better if he just wore gloves all the time? i know of someone who wears latex surgical gloves whenever boarding public transit, & she seems happy enough.
after much conversation, we said our goodbyes, the nice-to-meet-yous, engaged in a farewell fist-bump & he was gone. i thought about this guy all day– in a good way. he was quite nice, someone i would consider having a drink with perhaps. and at least he had a sense of humor about the ocd, which makes me think he’s not just fabricating it for dramatic effect…but he also has just moved back in with mom, which just made me sad. poor thing. i got sucked into this episode of true life on mtv awhile back; the one where all these dumb kids living in crappy apartments in l.a. or whatever are supposedly burdened by their obsessive-compulsive disorders, & i thought it was retarded bullshit…like twirling three times, inhaling twice & snapping the fingers on both hands at once, just before locking the front door. stupid. but i really believed this guy. hmm…well, if anything, it made me feel normal for compulsively checking my makeup every five minutes.