A Non-exhaustive List of My OCD “Peeves”

  • When my certain family members once thought my OCD was just a silly “phase”—you know, like reading comic books and being attracted to guys—one which I’ll eventually grow out of.

  • When I reassure people my triggers aren’t value judgments and regret never pursuing acting. If only I could have found a method.

  • When I’m in the middle of a ritual following one trigger and a different trigger, demanding a different ritual, occurs.

  • When I had to learn how to do almost everything with my left hand after those times I just couldn’t avoid a handshake.

    • When I let my right hand—my “dirty” hand—hang dead at my side, I could never teach myself how to write with my left.

  • When people think having OCD makes me comparable to Benedict Cumberbach’s portrayal of SherlockHolmes. As if I need to be more socially awkward.

    • Semi-related: When I watch TV and “forensic specialists” examine a corpse with latex gloved hands, then answer cell phones with those same gloved hands.

  • When I find a long hair in my Pad See Ew mid-chew, politely decline the offer of a new lunch, and the server gets annoyed.

  • When the pharmacist licks his index finger before touching each piece of paperwork and asking for my check card.
  • When I see a Macy’s salesman flossing by the register, flinging pre-digested bits this way and that. He scowls when I ask for a different cashier .

  • When a guy with explosive diarrhea washes his hands for 10 seconds, then aerosolizes his shit for 45 using the air dryer right next to me.

  • When three near strangers (i.e., the acquaintances of some friends of my friends) at a gay pool party a couple summers ago found out about my OCD and lectured me about how stupid I am for ten minutes.

    • When I asked one of those three if he’d washed his hands after fucking a guy in the bathroom, he scowled at me, livid.When the schmuck answered, he said, “I did not! But how’s what I do with my body any of your fuckin’ business?” I did not point out the irony of his objection.

  • When folks condescend, “What you call ‘germs,’ make us healthier in the end. You know, whatever the next pandemic is, it’s going to make you look like a fool.”

No Floor is That Clean

When people ask about my OCD as if I’m being patently unreasonable, I wonder how they are able to ignore so much. Take, for example, the guy in a public restroom whose phone was lying on the floor of the stall, between his feet, while he went about his business.

As I washed my hands, I watched in the mirror as his right hand occasionally dipped into view beneath the stall door, between wipes, to swipe between apps.

His friends probably joke about how he always needs to clean his phone’s screen. Little do they know

This made me think of the three times I’ve seen three different people at a neighborhood bar I used to frequent—a nice place, if a bit smokey, and rowdy when the Predators or Bears are playing—get a new cigarette from their own or someone else’s pack, place it to their lips, but let it slip as they try to light it, only to then pick it up off the floor and place back in their mouths as if nothing at all were wrong.

An open letter to my fellow shopper…

I mean you, the middle-aged man wearing yoga pants with “DIVA” stenciled on your ass who was searching for the perfect batch of wild onions

As batches of freshly spritzed wild onions tumbled to the dirty floor of the Kroger that always smells of sour milk—spilled somewhere, everywhere but never mopped up—you were undeterred, laser-focused on your goal.

I had no idea what your criteria were, but they must have been fierce as you tore through the angled, shoulder-height shelf. In your movements, I saw the Swedish Chef, though the screaming gibberish only resounded between your ears.

Your grocery shopping, which resembled someone turning a compost pile, went on for *literally* two minutes. Unable to look away, I watched. After you scooped up the batches from the floor and stuffed them back on the shelf, you saw me looking, and snapped, “What?”

I had hesitated selecting plums and pears, wondering how many of both you’d let roll around the seemingly never mopped linoleum. I’d guess it was my face, which frequently has a mind of its own, that made you snap. But before I could say anything, you were rummaging through the kale. And by “rummaging,” I mean “making it rain” that superfood. There were many things I would have said, if you only had the ears to hear.

But I forewent fruit this trip as you, Mr. Cross-Contamination, added unknown “spices” to the salads of unsuspecting shoppers.