A few days ago I ran across one of those, shall we say, less than scientific studies about OCD people. There was an online test. Take it, they claimed, and we will “grade” you and let you know to what degree you have OCD. I am a skeptic concerning Internet questionnaires and tests like this, but of course I believe OCD is real. I don’t particularly think I suffer from it, but, you know, maybe to some degree, in the same way that we are all narcissistic to one degree or another.
The test was kind of interesting. I’m always trying to figure what tests are “doing,” and this is probably why I’m generally good at tests and their results are usually more impressive than the real me in regular life. There were two kinds of questions, one being a picture of something that had an out of wack element to it, like a tile floor with definite pattern but one tile was put in 90 degrees off, or something similar. The question was asked, how much does this picture bother you? The answers were, not at all, a little bit, a lot. The other type of question was an array of seemingly identical pictures and the question, which one of these pictures is different? The pictures were simple, but the differences, when you could even find them, were very subtle.
Bottom line, I was graded “100% OCD”.
I don’t buy it. I think perhaps I’m good at spotting slight differences. I’m always noticing things like a picture being slightly out of plumb, or seeing one thing in a line of things that is not exactly in line, or a slight color mismatch. So, I guess I don’t know, but that seems like pretty normal behavior if you grant that there are differences from one person to another in just how picky we are, or how perceptive, or whatever. I certainly don’t notice everything, either. I know this because I will spot “OCD violations” after much time has passed since I was first exposed to them. Like, I lived in this apartment for five months before realizing or caring that a certain light switch backplate was crooked.
But what’s so bad about that anyway? For my writing, I think it’s just being thorough. (I don’t claim to never make glaring mistakes in my writing, and then leave them.) On the job, that is called “attention to detail.” Plus, OK, I edit blog comments. Sue me.
Over the years and decades, I’ve learned to let go of certain things that once tended to stress me out. As a young man, I obsessed over how my car was running. This is because I was very immersed in the car culture of 1960s California, combined with poverty and owning cheap cars and having to work on them by myself all the time. It was pretty easy, too, but I tuned my car up all the time and was very sensitive to the engine’s behavior. Did I hear a miss? Is that a little valve lifter clatter? Did I see a little puff of smoke in the rear view mirror that last time I floored it to pass a car on Bayshore freeway?
Nowadays, I’m pretty tickled if my car continues to start without a fuss, and runs “good enough” whenever I take it somewhere. This new attitude settled on me abruptly and without warning. Like, one day I woke up and said, nope, not going to work on my cars anymore. I’ll just buy better cars.
Anyway, these things seem to drop off, one by one, as the years go by until one day, I’m sure, I’ll be sitting around in my shorts, flip-flops, and Hawaiian shirt drinking a beer and throwing the can over the fence. If you’re my neighbor, I’ll just hope you have achieved a similar state and we can still be friends.