Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Genetic Glitch

Whenever I make a right hand turn at an intersection, I have to glance back in my side mirror after completing the turn and then in my rearview as I'm accelerating away - sometimes looking back at the corner several times in quick succession.

This is to make sure I haven't run over a pedestrian.

It's an OCD thing, you know. My sister tells me she does the same thing; she's even circled around to make double sure there's no one lying prone in the street. We can't help the fact that we're terrified a policeman will pull us over someday and say sternly, "Lady, do you realize you just ran over a pedestrian back there?"

Even as we exclaimed, "No!" in horror, we'd be thinking to ourselves, "Damn, I knew this would happen one day!"

The fact that we have this strange fear is a genetic glitch. It's nonsensical and hereditary.

The other evening as I was pressing persistently on the front door lock and knocking my finger repeatedly against the light switch of the front walkway (which everyone knows is instrumental in deterring burglars), my husband Matthew said, "Stop! It's locked and the light is on! I can't do it. I can't sit here and watch you do this anymore."

Then he imitated my compulsive behavior with mannerisms that resembled an idiotic chicken examining and pecking at a kernel of corn. I was offended. Until I laughed. Still...I can't help it. They say if you concentrate and be in the moment with that compulsive behavior, you can overcome it. For instance if you say to yourself while checking that lock, "I know this door is locked. It's locked," you should be able to move on with your life. It doesn't work, though. Basically, it just gave me another compulsive thing I have to do while securing the house, for as I'm banging that switch and pressing on that already secured lock, I have to repeat at least a dozen times to myself as if meditating, "I know this door is locked. I know this light is on. This door is locked; the light is on..."

That's how I was able to break a deadbolt once - by obsessively pressing on it for the billionth time. I woke Matthew up immediately, so he could find another lock and repair the damage. He told me then and has told me many times while observing my lock-checking ritual that I shouldn't bother waking him up if I break another deadbolt. Instead, I should make myself as comfortable as possible with blankets, maybe a little fire, some marshmallows and wieners, and prepare to guard the door all night.

After all, we must all take responsibility for our genetic glitches. Even if we can't help it.

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