Tag Archives: ocd

OCD running wild

I’m a bit of a geek, and, as I’ve already discussed, I am mildly OCD.

I’m not an expert on anything, but I know a little bit about a lot of subjects. Almost all of it is totally useless trivia. I “play” Jeopardy when the show is on almost every evening and usually do pretty well. This trait came in handy as a journalist and still makes me a good partner in Trivial Pursuit. Otherwise it is pretty useless, and sometimes annoying to friends and family. Sorry ‘bout that. 

Some of this trivial knowledge comes from the fact that I have always read a lot, and remember a lot of what I read. Some of it, especially science and art, comes from the outstanding high school I attended (Mt. Lebanon HS in suburban Pittsburgh), and a rather diverse collection of courses at the University of Florida (That’s what you get when you change your major three times.)

As a high school senior, I took a course in “Humanities” from an excellent teacher, Joanne Bailey.  It covered art, architecture and music from ancient through modern times. As a result, I have a superficial knowledge of art and art history. (For the most part, music was a lost cause for me.) I’m no expert by any stretch, but I am just slightly conversant in some of the periods of art history, styles and some of the major figures.

This brings me to an incident a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Poolman and I were watching the ABC sitcom, “Suburgatory.” 

In this episode, “Tessa” talks her neighbor “Dallas” into taking her into New York City for an afternoon. In one scene, the two are standing before a painting in an art museum and arguing whether it would be for sale. Dallas wanted to buy it, but Tessa said, “It’s not for sale.”

I looked at Mrs. Poolman and said, “I doubt it would be for sale. That’s a Degas.” I don’t recall ever seeing that particular painting before, and everything I knew about Edgar Degas could be written on the back of my fingernail.  For some reason, I was able to ID the artist, or so I thought anyway. However, quickly I had self-doubt and felt the compulsion to see if my impulse ID  was correct.  (That’s the OCD part.)

I did what anyone else in the 21st century would do; I Googled “Degas” and “Metropolitan Museum of Art” to try to locate the painting. I searched high and low and could not find the painting in question, certainly not at the Met. Finally, I expanded my search and eventually located the painting. Here it is.

Dance Foyer at the Opera -- Edgar Degas

I couldn’t find it at the Met, simply because it isn’t there. It’s permanently housed at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, and to the best my search could find, has never visited the Met.

Then I realized, “Stupid me!,” the producers didn’t go to a museum to shoot the scene with the painting. The show is probably shot in Los Angeles anyway. They simply got a poster of a painting and used it in a studio shot.

The bottom line is –the poster in the TV show probably is for sale, for about $19.99 on line or in a museum gift shop.

I shared this experience with Mrs. Poolman, thinking that maybe she would be interested in the solution to the mystery. She just sighed deeply, and her eyes rolled back into her head. A little cartoon balloon appeared above her head:  “What did I do to deserve this?”

A little OCD can be good for you

Mrs. Poolman thinks I am slightly neurotic. She is probably right. I am a little obsessive-compulsive. Most of my OCD revolves around turning off hot appliances. An hour or more after using it, I’ll ask myself…

“Did I remember to turn off the oven  /grill / iron?”

Mrs. P makes fun of me, but actually there have been a number of times I have discovered the oven left on overnight. Usually this has been when one of our children had been using it, or we had a party and a guest used it to heat up a dish. All the same, I may be neurotic, but I’m not completely crazy.

I have a way of compensating so I don’t drive Mrs. P or myself totally bonkers. When I turn off one of these appliances, I “tell myself” to remember that I have done so.

“You are unplugging the iron, Poolman. Remember this later.”

I’ll have a solid memory of performing the act to fall back on.

As I have told Mrs. P, “Not all neuroses are bad.”

I thought of this last Sunday, when I sat at Mass and listened to the lector read an entire set of readings that were entirely wrong. I felt sorry for her because she was the only person in the church who didn’t realize she was “on the wrong page.” She read the readings for the same Sunday in the next annual cycle. She wasn’t off by a week; she was off by a year. Ignorance is bliss, at least for awhile. She probably figured it out eventually.

I’ve had just about everything go wrong that possibly can go wrong when I have been a lector. Painful experience has encouraged me to get to the church early and double check everything — the Gospel book, the announcements, and especially the page-marker in the lectionary. I hate unpleasant surprises in front of large groups of people. So I”m pretty OCD about making sure everything is lined up properly.

I don’t know if a little OCD can be contagious. Why should I be selfish and enjoy all the benefits?