By now, it's probably safe to assume that you've heard the joke; I know I've told it on occasion, though I didn't explain it here, except obliquely. Short version without any set up: CDO, simply, is obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, except that the three letters are arranged alphabetically — as, of course, they should be.

I don't generally think about this much, but it did hit me at the checkout stand at Braum's yesterday. I was receiving my change from a twenty, and inexplicably stuffed the $11 in bills into my wallet without maintaining the sort: ones in the front, then fives, once in a while a ten, finally twenties. (I don't think I've carried $100 bills more than twice in my life.) Greatly disturbed by this, I moved a stray $5 out of the way to restore order, before I took another step or picked up my bag of stuff. And yes, all the bills were facing in the same direction. I suppose, ultimately, this is a good argument for carrying a debit card. I do, in fact, have a debit card; however, I am loath to use it for purchases under $10 if I have the cash on hand.

And why am I loath to put $8.68 on plastic? Not so much that it "looks bad" — had there ever been any stigma for this sort of thing, I'm sure it's long since evaporated — but that when I opened this account five years ago, I set up a little forced-savings scheme that moves 50 cents out of checking into savings every time I swipe the debit or use it for an online purchase. (It's usually good for $8-$10 a month.) And that half a buck as a percentage of an $8 purchase looks downright huge compared to that half a buck as a percentage of a $100 purchase. This line of thinking, all by itself, ought to be enough to establish my credentials in the CDO camp.

I realize, of course, that others suffer with — I'm assuming they don't enjoy it — this condition far more than I do. The late William Maxwell Gaines, founder of MAD magazine, kept his canned soup in alphabetical order (think Chicken, Cream of) and left the house each morning with exactly the same amount of cash. Football star David Beckham has his own set of rituals:

In a television interview, Beckham, [then] 30, confessed to counting the cans of cola he keeps in his fridge.

Beckham reportedly spends hours straightening the furniture, apparently buys exactly 20 packets of Super Noodles on each visit to the supermarket and wears a new pair of football boots for every match.

I am not known for furniture moving, but I do have to deal with product rotation. There is one roll of toilet paper on the wall holder. (Before you ask: it unrolls from the front.) The next roll is in a wooden box on the tank lid, spares are kept in the linen closet. When it comes time to replace the roll, the one in the box is installed, and one from the closet is brought forward. As for cola: well, Kenmore never said so, but there are three locations in the fridge designated for Royal Crown Cola: two in the door, and a third in a horizontal holder that regular folks might use for a bottle of wine. (Should there be a fourth, perhaps because it was on sale, it will go to the back of the top-left shelf.) As each bottle is emptied, the others behind it are moved up. If the store should happen to be out of RC, I am willing to purchase a substitute, usually either Coca-Cola or Dr Pepper; however, they will be moved to the front of the line, so that they will be used up first.

To what extent this condition contributes to my fondness for Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, is not entirely clear, though I definitely felt something of a spark the day she was making a checklist, and the very first item on that checklist was "Make a checklist." Similarly, since 2010 the first item on the MAD Table of Contents (page 1) is the MAD Table of Contents (page 1). This was not Bill Gaines' idea — he died back in 1992 — but I have no doubt that he would have approved. And if Twilight Sparkle ever writes a book, I trust she will do likewise.

The Vent

  18 May 2014

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