Fuzzy Wuzzy Wuz OCD

The other night, the wife and I are out having dinner with some dear friends. In the course of dinner at a fabulous Chinese buffet (one of the better ones in the area, I might add), I happened to notice something upon one of my fellow diners. There, on her brown spaghetti stringed top, was a lone white thread clinging to the fabric surface. My first inclination is to pick it off, but alas, not only was she seated across from me, this was not located in a casual pick off area. No, it was on the right boob region of her top. Thus, a dilemma was created for me: how do I casually inform her of an insignificant thread that is located in the so-called “bad touch area” of most child therapy dolls? The bigger dilemma simultaneously arose: why is this little string so damn distracting to me?

I did not bring it up, but mercifully, the string detached itself as the evening went along. It saved me an evening of being distracted in a manner that would make ultimately explaining my behavior feel outright foolish. (“Why do you keep staring at my chest?” “Um… there’s a tiny string there?”) Nevermind the mirth that became apparent when I was telling my wife about this on the car ride home tonight. “You should have said something,” she giggled at me as she filed away this little story for future teasing.

At least we both agreed it was a personality quirk. It wasn’t anything more sinister as it did not control my thoughts (unlike my diagnosed OCD family members). Nor was it anything harmful, since I was not pulling a Monk and trying to unthread or unfuzzy the world around me. But I do think that it was a pretty narrow quirk.

Someone with a bunch of fuzzies or other clothing debris doesn’t activate this need to pick. It’s not like I won’t say anything, but the larger the number, the easier it is to point out the problem without feeling odd. However, if there are a few (like, three or less), then the desire to remove the offending pieces kicks up a notch. I can’t stand looking at a solid color material and see one or two things creating an imperfection in the palette.

This does become an issue in the workplace. As one of the only male staff members at my library, the sexual harassment training dances through my mind when I spy a co-worker with a little piece of debris on their clothing. Now, I know I don’t mean any harm, but as sexual harassment training (and other sensitivity training, for that matter) tell us, it’s not about what we think, it’s about what the other person thinks. So then it becomes a more serious quagmire: do I continue to seek to remove the offending fuzzy, or do I just let it go? Usually I find something else to do, which handles the matter nicely in that “out of sight, out of mind” mantra that works for so many other problems in life. (You know what I mean. Wife, kids, car, creditors, parents, family, work, etc. The fun stuff!)

So you know, it’s not a matter of trying to pick it off myself. But it’s more of the notion that my observation (“You have a fuzzy on your shirt”) will lead down a bad train of thought (“Only someone really creepy would have been able to spy this thread? THE HORROR!”) This is probably more of a product of anxiety type thinking than, well, real people thinking. But I’ve always found that I’ve been more of attentive observer of people than of other subjects. I can still recall favorite music of friends from long ago, dietary preferences of people I don’t see anymore, and odd and ends about classmates from elementary through high school. Maybe, out of all of the aspects of my life, this is the one area where my observation skills excel. Or, for the wackier alternative theory, this “need to groom” lies with my primitive primate ancestors. The fuzzies are the new ticks and lice and other skin irritants that need to be removed just as our ape cousins do today all over the world. (There is a story behind that last possible explanation. When I was picking a fuzzy out of a co-workers hair a couple weeks back, I made a crack alluding to primate grooming. She snickered at me and said, “Well, are you going to eat it?” “No,” I replied. “Not unless you start putting candy in there.”)

Truly, there must be far far worse quirks to have. I should be thankful that mine is so minor, so hilarious, and so very much not going to get me into any trouble.

Unless the fuzzy doesn’t get removed.

because i kenken can

In the last month, I have been rediscovering my love of games. I’ve constructed a wish list on Amazon to keep track of the games I would like to collect over time. Over the last couple of years, the major extent of my gaming has been on World of Warcraft. (I admit, I love me an MMO.) But there has been a hole in my recreation and that whole has been gaming.

There are a lot of good memories connected to games, mainly card ones. My mother’s side of the family is extremely big on card games. There wasn’t many a family gathering that went by in which some sort of game (board, card, or otherwise) was not played. Some of my best memories with my maternal grandparents were around the kitchen table with an after meal game of cards. It is one of those things that I miss more than anything about my time with them.

The wife and I had some friends over tonight and we ended up playing Phase 10. It’s a better card game for a rainy day at the beach house or lazy Sunday afternoon, but not on a work weekday night. We ended up stopping after 11 just to make certain people could get home for the work day tomorrow. Since my grandmother moved out of the house and into nursing care almost a year ago, I think this was the first time we’ve had friends over for such a purpose. It felt great, really, and certainly overdue. I need to arrange for more gaming nights, perhaps with different games or themes in mind.

At any rate, while I cannot indulge in these types of games all the time, I can always have a logic problem book on hand. A month or so ago, I purchased a couple of New York Times crossword books for the nightstand. It’s a nice way to relax and get into the sleeping comfort zone, especially since I’m doing the real easy ones (nothing past Monday, so far as I can tell). After reading about KenKen in Time, I had to give it a try. The sample puzzle I tried on the website was enough to have me jonzing for more. After work, I met the wife for grocery shopping and then made a b-line for Barnes & Noble. While I was there, I got a KenKen book, another crossword book, a Hidato book, and a Sudoku book (I have one for my work bag, but not for my nightstand).

Let me tell you, I think that KenKen will consume my brain. It really is that addictive. I’ve already gotten halfway through this book which means I will have to find a few more in the next week or so. It’s a dance of numbers and logic  that, while I make mistakes, I learn from them on the next puzzle. I’m hacking my way through the 5×5 puzzles at the moment, but they are things of beauty, I tell you.

There was an article on Will Shortz I read recently about why people are attracted to crossword puzzles. He talks about how it comes down to you versus the puzzle maker in a battle of wits where all the potential answers are known, but there is the element of deception, guile, humor, and subterfuge in constructing clues to mask the true answers. This may not exactly be the case with KenKen or Sudoku, but the battle remains.

I need to go now, the books are calling me again.