Even Steven

Even Steven

Herb December 13, 2019

Many of you already know about my OCD and a couple have made comment about it. I wrote this story originally on 1/2/09. I am entering it here with a few minor corrections, but no major edits like I did with the story, Dave Gets What He Deserves.

<><><><><> 1/2/09

Dear Fans, Friends, Fiends and Foes,

Today’s writing prompt is from The Writer’s Book of Matches, pg 42: “Why do you have ten cans of Easy Cheese in your cart?” I changed the number.

Having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has sometimes made for the more-than-occasional embarrassing moment in my life. Actually, I have never seen it as a disorder that I merely like things right. Things must be even. Balanced. In a straight line. So what if it must be perfectly straight? Why is that such a big deal?

My bottle of hand-sanitizer annoys family, friends, strangers and acquaintances alike, but I mean, it’s not like I can wash my hands in the bathroom every time I shake someone’s hand and I have to get rid of the germs somehow. They said it’s weird that I wash my hands after shaking with someone, but I say it’s weird that they don’t know they have germs. Sometimes, if it is someone I especially like and whose germs I wouldn’t mind having, I won’t wash my hands. That ought to prove right there that the problem is not with me.

My biggest fascination ever, though, has been with numbers. I like numbers, but only certain ones, so what’s wrong with that? I mean to me, the most beautiful numbers I have ever seen are the ones that are divisible into squares all the way to infinity. Sixty-four, for example, was chosen by the Beatles for a fun little pop song while Number Nine was their weirdest piece. That’s because you can only divide nine down to its prime number, while sixty-four goes all the way to infinity. Half of sixty-four is thirty-two, half of thirty-two is sixteen, half of sixteen is eight, half of eight is four, half of four is two, half of two is one, and then you start “backwards” again, half of one is one-half, which has a two in it, half of that is a fourth, on and on and on. As a child, I could sit for hours doing multiplications and divisions of these beautiful, perfect numbers of things.

“So what, I like things even? So what? It’s not like I’m crazy or anything. I mean, it really starts getting old after a while, being called weird and strange or germ-freak or whatever. It makes me angry and it would make you angry, too,” I said to the judge, “You probably don’t even wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.” The courtroom laughed, but I was in even more trouble. He never denied it, though.

You would have done the same thing I did, too. I mean, there I was, minding my own business at the store, figuring out how many cases of pop I would need. This has not been easy, since the demise of the eight-pack. The Coca-Cola people and those people who make Mountain Dew ought to understand about numbers, but no, they have to pack cans in twelve-packs instead. I wrote to them about this, but they just sent me a canned letter in reply. Let’s see, twelve and twelve is twenty-four, and twenty-four is forty-eight and twelve is sixty…five twelve packs? Let’s see, six and six are twelve and six is eighteen and six is twenty-four and six is thirty…this is always so frustrating, but I finally realized that I was making the problem harder than what it was, so I simplified it and just got two packs of Coke and two Mountain Dew.

Then came the question of how many boxes of Ritz Crackers I needed to go with how many cans of Easy Cheese. This is easy and I don’t know why all manufacturers don’t do this. They make all the numbers come out perfectly and beautifully. One can of cheese covers approximately two sleeves of crackers and there are four sleeves per box. Well, as you already know, these are perfect numbers, but I was going to entertain. Have some fun beating the tar out of my friends at trivial Pursuit. I wanted to make sure I had enough, so, let’s see, two cans for one box, four cans for two boxes, it’s easy, really, except people kept jostling me and making me lose count and I would have to start over at one. I couldn’t start where I left off, of course. You should always go back to the beginning. At least I had them lined up nice and neat.

A nice neat pattern of eight cans, four boxes, and four twelve-packs. It was amazing. I rearranged them to be more perfectly neat. Then discovered another pattern and fixed it and then re-did that. I could have stood there for hours, just sorting and arranging this perfect set of perfect snacks for my, well, less-than-perfect friends. But they are my friends because they accept me as I am and never call me names and only once in a while tease me in a good-natured way. Anyway, I had just created a pattern that stacked the boxes on the cans on the twelve-packs when this fool came around the corner and bashed into my cart. I was so angry. How dare he ruin perfection? Then, and this was the reason I was in court, he had the nerve to say to me, “Why do you have eight cans of Easy Cheese in your cart?” As though I were some kind of weirdo or something. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just had enough, so I grabbed a sixty-four ounce Coke and started pummeling him about the head and shoulders repeatedly. An even number of times, of course.

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