At this post-holiday, pre-spring point in the year, if you're not suffering immense cabin fever, you're living in Mexico. The air is dry, the sky is gray, the temperature is mind-numbing. In other words, you're not leaving the house unless you have to walk a dog or gather fire wood. (And if I was dog-owner, those disgusting pee pads would look pretty tempting about now.)
The adverse affects of all this time stuck between four walls and artificial light are many, and I could probably devote a 10-article series on them starting with Cabin Fever, Part 1: How Facebook Took Over My Life Even More. But for now I'll focus on just one peculiarity that reveals itself in the 4:30 p.m. nightfall of a February evening: compulsions. Or, if you prefer, particularities. The euphemistic might kindly refer to them as "quirks." Whatever you label them, they remain those little things in life that make you wonder if you're obsessive compulsive or autistic. We all have them, and there's something about being stuck inside for 16 hours a day, especially with someone else, that happens to highlight them.
In the past several weeks these neuroticisms have come up in conversations with my boyfriend, good friends, and colleagues. And they've come up naturally-not at my asking-which reinforces that everyone has their "thing." (And everyone is much more aware of it if they can't drink on the sunny patio after work.) Considering the majority of our work as humans is devoted to an endless cycle of consume and release, I guess it's not surprising that almost all the oddities discussed landed in one of two categories: hygiene or food.
As a person who strongly believes that a little dirt is good for everyone, I've had to adjust for a boyfriend that believes everyone is a carrier of disease, filth, and a lot of dirt. Turns out that one us thinks towels can be washed 1 or 2 times a month since they only ever touch clean things while another one of us thinks that towels need to be washed 1 or 2 times a week since they touch bodies that carry disease, filth, and dirt. Who knew the making of an argument could be so soft and cuddly? That same person also can't share his towel or pillow because nothing would be worse than someone else's germs touching your face.
In other one-thing-touching-another phobias, several colleagues revealed that they hated when one type of food touched another on their plate. With disgust contorting her face, a coworker exclaimed, "The worst is when a pickle touches French fries!!" I could actually think of several things that are worse (sharing a towel or pillow case excluded), and was about to mention nuclear Holocaust when another coworker heartily agreed. He was so grossed out by foods mixing that, as a child, he invented a "no spill" rule wherein no food could breach another on the plate. No wonder domestic abuse occurs.
Compulsions might dominate in eating and cleaning, but I'm confident they exist in all realms of life. For instance, my friend went into great detail about how she can't wear her hair the same way two days in a row, which had me thinking you're out of your effing mind. And in the end--we all have the opportunity to think someone's off their rocker because everyone has hang-ups, and without much rhyme or reason. The man who sees the towel as sacred ground will leave cabinet doors open and lights on, prompting me to follow in his wake closing up and switching off.
So in these sun-deprived days of late winter, rather than letting your friend or colleague's compulsions get the best of you, embrace weirdness. Share your own little bit of crazy and soon it will be 5 p.m., pitch black, and one day closer to Spring.