And now you see my problem.
Or do you?
I guess you’d better sit down because I have a small confession to make.
You may have noticed a little ADHD or OCD behavior from me now and then. Not enough to annoy you or to affect my own quality of life.
So maybe I blitz-clean my house once in a while, just from boredom. And my clothes hang in the closet color-coded. And I have to line my throw rugs up with the tile grout, counting the tiles off each side to the wall in order to confirm that the rug is, indeed, exactly centered.
Mildly entertaining I suppose.
I’m driving down the road, taking a son or two to school, and a bus passes by. In it’s back window are the numbers 12456.
An identification number.
No big deal.
But I am actually discombobulated in my head.
Why? They left out the 3! Who does that?
It would cost them next to nothing to just throw the missing number in there and call it good.
Does another bus have just the 3 in it’s window? Was it stolen just to annoy other drivers on the road?
I pointed out this obvious random thought to the boys and discovered that they, too, thought something was rotten in Denmark.
That’s when I decided to tell them just how far my poor compulsive and obsessive brain takes me when I don’t hold it firmly in line. (A nice, straight, tidy line.)
“Do you ever drive by the gas station and notice the prices listed for gas?”
“Sometimes,” replies a son almost old enough to drive.
“Well, I begin with the lowest number displayed and hop between the rest, trying to make a royal flush. It’s okay if they start with a 3, so long as I can find a 4, 5, 6, and 7. If I can’t, I drive by feeling like the planets aren’t quite aligned.”
“Hm,” he replies, already thinking a hundred other thoughts. At once.
“Yeah, we drive by in what, 10 seconds? And my brain is already deciding if today is a good day based on the random numbers at a gas station. Stupid.”
“I do that with my alarm clock at night,” he suddenly reveals.
“Once I stayed awake all night waiting for the time to read 12:34. I couldn’t fall asleep because the red glowing numbers were staring at me across the bedroom.”
“You poor kid.”
“It was exciting at 12:32. I knew it was changing in a minute and I didn’t want to blink or fall asleep and miss it. I waited and waited and I saw the very second it changed to the right numbers. Then I could go to sleep.”
I am so sorry.
This thing should be my own personal curse. I never meant to pass it on to the kids.
I’m getting an analog clock for the boys’ bedroom.
But it has to be one that doesn’t make a “tick tock” sound.
I have to twitch my fingers together or tap them in cadence with that.
We’ll never get to sleep.
Which made me remember something from my childhood.
Sleep-overs at Grandma’s.
My grandmother is a collector par excellence.
Sleepovers meant lying under the stare of a hundred dolls’ eyes from a glass cabinet and silently counting her piles of Beany Bears.
You’d get up the next morning to help her dust the house spotless.
Most of all, though, it meant getting used to her clock collection.
There were clocks on every wall in every room and each of them created a unique noise.
“Tick tock” from the silver cowboy belt buckle clock was small potatoes.
The cuckoo clock sang and exploded into “Der Froehliche Wanderer” (Happy Wanderer) on the hour, complete with little dancing yodelers in lederhosen.
She had a bird clock that, depending on which hour it pointed to, taught you each bird’s particular warble.
It didn’t have a cuckoo.
We were grateful for the small things.
The grandfather clock bonged out the quarter hours and partial hymn verses of the Westminster Chimes, then put them all together in a solemn hourly anthem.
Striking midnight took two hours.
A creepy cat clock swung his tail and shifted his eyes every second.
I think it was flirting with the giant Mickey Mouse phone, but it was hard to tell.
Mickey was smiling.
My family tree came by this honestly, I guess.
That doesn’t make me feel any better about it.