Thursday, January 2, 2020

Count on this being the best story you read today

Piggy-backing on the previous post a bit, I've had this thing for many years. Can't remember when it started. It might have been when I quit drinking a couple decades ago. I call it a quirk; others call it a mental disorder. Tomato, tomahto.

The first time I noticed it was while running. I counted my steps (in my head, not out loud, THAT would be crazy), then I'd zone out and forget about it, until I picked it back up a few minutes later: 245, 246, 247. My brain was counting without me knowing it. I can also tell you the number of steps in staircases throughout South Dakota, if there ever becomes a need. Also, while driving I count those breaks/bumps in the road. I'm sure the construction workers can tell me what they're called, but your car hits them and gives a quiet "thud." I count the thuds. Yes, it gets annoying, but it explains why my music is cranked so loud.

Thankfully, one day, maybe 20 years ago, I was listening to the radio in the car and the Dr. Dean Adel Show was on. He took a caller who described exactly what I just described to you and I said "Hey! That's me!" in between "thuds" on the road. She asked the good doctor what to do about it.

He said it was a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that is debilitating to some people, but just a nuisance to others (like me). He told her to pick a number, any number, and when she was counting to just stop when she hit that number. Seemed dumb, but I tried it. I picked 40. Don't know why. Just seemed like a nice number, not too high, not too low.

Lo and behold, it worked! Every jog I take, I count the first 40 steps and then I'm done with it. Weird. Really weird. My niece, in college a ways back, wanted to interview me for a psychology paper. But I never heard back. Probably a well she didn't want to dive into. Can't blame her.

I made the mistake of telling this story to a friend in the neighborhood. Now when he drives past and I'm jogging, he hollers out his window with a big smile on his face: "What number you on?" I show him the number one.

There's even an institute that studies people like me. It's called Hogwarts. Just kidding. It's called the New England OCD Institute. I might visit sometime. See how many stairs they have.

When I ran across it while writing this post, I noticed this from The Institute: "Often people with OCD will have a primary subtype, i.e. sexual obsessions, but will have the numbers as more of a secondary problem. In cases like this, it is not as stressful or intrusive."

Hmmm. Explains all the dead chickens in the house. I kid, I kid. Nothing like some good sexual obsession jokes to get the tongues wagging.

I have some other OCD type symptoms, but they are more organizational. Like my color-coded shirt rack, all the soup can labels pointing outward. My wife drives me crazy with that. She can return from the store and toss all the canned vegetable and soups all willy nilly into the lazy Susan. No rhyme or reason. I think she does it because she knows I will organized it.

But none of these seem to affect my life in the negative, as far as I see. In fact, the counting thing comes in handy.

For example, just the other day: My wife likes to end her workout regiment with a set of planks. But she hates them and likes to have a hype man there for her. Junior has been working out with her lately and fulfilling that role, but he left a week ago so the duty fell to me.

So she got out her yoga mat and told me to start my stopwatch on the phone and to tell her when 45 seconds was up. I said, "I'll just count in my head." She said, "No, I want it exact." I said: "Trust me." She didn't. So I did the stopwatch thing for her. Happy wife, happy life, don't ya know.

Later in the day, I was in the kitchen, she was in the living room. I tossed her my phone with the stopwatch ready. I told her to press "start" and not to hit "stop" until I told her to. She did as instructed. I walked around the kitchen a bit, got a drink of water, looked at the rabbits outside the window, then said: "Stop."

I said: "45 seconds."

She looked at me with that amazed look on her face I'm so familiar with: "44.6. Okay, you don't have to use the stopwatch anymore."

I'd do track meets also, but don't think they'd recognize my super power in the event somebody broke a state record. I'll stick to planks.

You can count on it.

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