You Can’t Teach An Old Blog New Tricks

I suffer from a condition known as ‘Compulsive Disorder of Obsession’ (CDO), and I would like to raise awareness of it, if I may.

Essentially, it is similar to OCD, only more severe, because sufferers of CDO get very uncomfortable about the letters OCD being in non-alphabetical order, and insist on them being re-arranged post-haste.

I first noticed the symptoms of CDO when I was growing up, as I began to demand that everything be in its rightful place and order, but I had hoped that this was just a pre-pubescent phase that I would grow out of in time. Unfortunately, it only got worse.

I tried to argue that my incessant organisation of things was just good common sense. For example, if you want to find a CD from a large collection, you surely need to have them arranged not only alphabetically, but also then in order of release date for each artist, yes? With singles kept apart from albums, and compilations/ soundtracks in their own storage rack? Good, we’re agreed.

Naturally, the same applies to DVDs. All films and TV series must be in alphabetical order, that goes without saying, but any stand-up comedy and live music DVDs should have their own place too, and they must then be organised alphabetically and chronologically themselves.

Getting a bit weird now, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this is just the tip of my obsessive little iceberg.

For example, I cannot leave a book mid-chapter, and especially not to carry out trivial tasks like changing a nappy or disposing of a spider. In fact, even if the house was to suddenly and unexpectedly be ablaze, or a huge meteorite were headed in Sandbach’s direction, I would still refuse to interrupt my reading. I have, however, taken to only purchasing or borrowing books with short chapters, in order to make my availability for nappy-changing, spider-destroying and meteorite-dodging activities more prompt. My wife has yet to show any gratitude towards me for this.

Then, there are socks. Socks are my Kryptonite.  I am extremely uncomfortable wearing socks that do not match, even if they are both the same colour but from slightly different pairs, however I have managed (with months of training), to look past this and cope. I truly dislike wearing socks that are only similar to each other, but I bury my anxiety deep down.

However, if I see someone wearing obviously different coloured socks, especially when out in public, I immediately break out into a cold sweat and twitch uncontrollably. Why would someone do that to their own feet deliberately? Even if you cannot find any socks that match, surely wearing no socks is the preferable option? Yes, you’ll look a tit, but at least you’ll be a tit that matches.

Then, last year, my wife purchased a pack of socks for me that had the days of the week emblazed across the toes in bright colours – one pair for each day. No doubt she did this to help me match them more swiftly and conclusively, therefore her heart was in the right place, but unfortunately it has only made matters worse.

You would think, on the basis the socks are identical from the ankle up, and therefore no one would be any the wiser if I happened to wearing the wrong day, that this would not bother me. You could not be farther from the truth. It eats away at me, and makes me feel physically sick. What kind of moron would wear socks that say ‘Sunday’ on them, if it were, in fact, a Thursday? Even typing that makes me nauseous.

There is only one thing worse than wearing the wrong day on your feet, and that is wearing different socks that are both the wrong day. That’s like having two chances to get it right, and screwing them both up.

I also have a few pairs of ‘comedy’ pants that have been bought for me over the years (again by my wife of course, otherwise that would be weird), and these must be worn at weekends only. It’s smart boxers for the office, thank you very much. Don’t get me wrong, I am acutely aware that, barring a complete mental breakdown or lapse of judgment, my colleagues are highly unlikely to see me in my undercrackers around the office, but like so many of my CDO traits, it doesn’t matter what other people think or know, I would know. And, if I were conscious of being in the office, or even worse, Court, in pants that have Homer Simpson shouting something hilarious next to where mini-me and the twins are comfortably nestled, I would hate myself more than I already do.

And doors. I must check all doors, even ones that I know full well I have just locked, at least a couple of times before I can safely move on. I have been known to turn the garage light off, lock the door, then immediately question myself and re-open it… to reveal the garage in darkness, like I knew it would be. Even if I’m leaving my family in the house, say to go to work, I still have to check the front door is locked a number of times before leaving, and I often get back out of the car and walk down the drive again, just to make sure. In fact, when we go away on holiday, I can sometimes be doing shuttle-runs on the drive for up to half an hour.

So, there you have it. It’s not an easy condition to cope with, but unless you live on our street and have seen my shuttle runs, or you happen to catch me frantically ripping my socks off in public screaming “BUT IT’S NOT FUCKING THURSDAY, IS IT?!”, then you’d never know.

Shit. I’ve just realised I’m nearly at 1,000 words. It’s like when you have to round your fuel up to the nearest pound at the petrol station. Ok, three words left. Two.



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