Some think I have a form of OCD. They notice that I have to do things in a cer­tain way. These things aren’t exact­ly debil­i­tat­ing to the point of being con­sid­ered dis­or­ders, but they’re big enough for peo­ple to give me a teas­ing now and then.

I have to sleep with the end of the blan­kets at my feet. My duvet and cov­er are sep­a­rate, so the open­ing is at one end. It bugs the craaaaaaaaap out of me if it’s not at the bot­tom.

I always car­ry a few things with me. Lip balm (Labello brand), cell phone, iPod, lens cloth (to clean glass­es or cam­era), in addi­tion to the nor­mal wal­let and keys. If I have a bag, this list expands to include a note­book with pen, and a cam­era. I’m very uneasy with­out them. I look for pants with appro­pri­ate­ly sec­tioned pock­ets for this rea­son.

I wash my hands about 10–12 times over the course of a day. As a result, my hands dry out (which I also can’t stand) so I use Glaxal Base a cou­ple times a day, which is a per­fume-free, water-based lotion. It’s so hypoal­ler­genic and absorbent that they use it as a base for top­i­cal med­ica­tion.

I hate hav­ing an odd num­ber of eggs in my fridge. This may be due to the fact that I nev­er devi­ate from eat­ing two eggs in one sit­ting. If I ever cook an odd num­ber of eggs (maybe when a guest wants one or three), then I’m left with an odd num­ber of eggs that I’ll for­ev­er be try­ing to even out again.

I always walk to the beat of the song I’m lis­ten­ing to. Most songs are in com­mon time (4/4), which can be divid­ed or mul­ti­plied by two, so adjust­ing the walk­ing pace (in essence, two beats) is easy. Something based in 3 (such as Lamb’s album Fear of Fours) is less flex­i­ble. The only time I walk at my own pace is dur­ing songs with irreg­u­lar or chang­ing time sig­na­tures, like any pro­gres­sive rock album where I can’t even fig­ure out where the down beat is.

I have to wear slip­pers on tile or ceram­ic floors. I don’t know why.

I can’t lis­ten to an album out of order. There may be songs I don’t like in the album, and I’ll have no prob­lem skip­ping them, but I lis­ten to the rest in order.

I can’t stand things that are unsym­met­ri­cal. I know, there’s rea­son for asym­me­try, it’s designed that way, it serves a pur­pose, but I can’t stand it. I’ll nev­er buy EQ3 Off Centre din­ner­ware. There were a few sea­sons when the whole side-zip­per was “in” and I could­n’t buy any­thing from Tristan and America or Banana Republic.

I have to eat por­tions of food in a cer­tain way. This is only true for big meals with side and main dish­es. There’s an order: side dish (mashed pota­toes, or toast), side dish (corn, or egg), main dish (turkey, or bacon), rotat­ing between all three, but always sav­ing the main dish for the last bite. I find there’s a bet­ter con­trast with the food when you switch between dish­es. Flavours get lost when too much of the same thing is eat­en. This is as opposed to Aaron, who eats his side dish­es first, and then saves almost the entire­ty of his main dish for last.


  1. Those are cer­tain­ly more quirky habits than obses­sive com­pul­sions. About the only one I share is bag con­tents. Not only do I have to keep cer­tain items in there — phone, note­book and pen, etc — I always have to take it with me wher­ev­er I go. I think that lat­ter issue is a con­fi­dence thing; I feel pro­tect­ed by it on busy tubes and trains.

    Good post.

  2. The hand­wash­ing seems a tad much to me, but the rest is quite … quite… cat-like. You’re a cat guy, right?
    You need slip­pers on those sur­faces because they sap the heat out of you. Logical. But does that mean you have show­er slip­pers?
    The eggs thing is pret­ty fun­ny. You can’t eat three?
    Some albums war­rant being played in order and some don’t.
    Your feng shui is log­i­cal­ly cen­tered.
    And the food thing is just .… hap­pi­ly hedo­nis­tic.

    To add my own quirk, I once took every­thing from my bath­room cab­i­net (I did­n’t have any med­i­cines) and cov­ered all the nasty labels with beau­ti­ful gold paper. Voila! Peaceful mind every time I opened the door.
    My hus­band was some­what put out.

  3. @CK — I don’t think we’re alone on car­ry­ing a few things with us every­where. Some girls espe­cial­ly I find I guilty of this; purs­es are mobile home-bases.

    I can see how a note­book brings pro­tec­tion. It’s nice to be able to bury your head in one when feel­ing anti-social on pub­lic trans­port. My head­phones do that job for me though, and I car­ry my note­book in case I come up with an idea that should­n’t be for­got­ten.

    @Xibee — I try not to wash my hands so much actu­al­ly. Hospital work­ers have the best immune sys­tems because they’re exposed to germs all day. Sometimes I’m afraid that too much wash­ing will low­er my immune response, much like an over-use of antibac­te­r­i­al hand soap.

    I’m very much a cat per­son.

    Your com­ment made me real­ize that when I was young and liv­ing in a big house that was hard and expen­sive to heat, the ceram­ic floor was painful­ly cold. Bare feet would lit­er­al­ly hurt, and even socked feet weren’t enough to stave it. I prob­a­bly picked up my slip­per habit from that.

    Three eggs are too much for me; I think of all the cho­les­terol I’m gain­ing. I also end up being too full. It’s like hav­ing three slices of toast. One isn’t near­ly enough. Two is per­fect.

    I don’t have the slight­est clue about feng shui. Is it nor­mal­ly cen­tered?

    I can total­ly see the gold paper med­i­cine wrap­pers. Sometimes those labels are like those shock­ing warn­ing pic­tures they have on cig­a­rette packs. On the oth­er hand, I can see how your hus­band is put off. I’m remind­ed of an episode of Married with Children when Peg paints the bath­room pink. All the guys let Al in front of the line to the pub­lic bath­room when they find out.

  4. You prob­a­bly have a very mild form of OCD. Actually, many peo­ple have at least a tiny form of it. It only becomes a “con­di­tion” if it begins to inter­fere with your life or just becomes unman­age­able.

  5. That’s prob­a­bly like ADD. It’s not any­thing spe­cif­ic, just a bunch of pos­si­ble symp­toms. I hear diag­no­sis is sim­ply whether you have a cer­tain num­ber of these symp­toms.

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