Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Dante's InfernoJune 22, 2001: I don’t call it OCD… I call it "being particular."

I have a couple hypochondriacs in my family. And I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill "I think I’ve got that cold that’s going around" garden variety type. Oh, no, no, no. These are people that have contracted and successfully conquered every known form of cancer, usually within a forty-eight hour span.

Aching bone cancer. Pounding brain cancer. Pesky stomach cancer. Luckily, these turned out to be nothing more serious than your commonplace muscle aches, headache, and upset stomach, but who knew?

Of course, there was that time when they both had incurable back cancer. Of all the rotten luck! Which, they realized, was ridiculous… how could they both have rare cases of back cancer at the exact same time?! It’s not like it’s contagious for God’s sake!

I just hope they steer clear of the recent newspaper reports about Geraldine Ferraro’s bout with blood cancer. Yikes!

Anyway, I recently got to thinking about illness and hypochondria thanks to my own self-diagnosed case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Frankly, I always thought of myself as simply being, well, particular. Milk belongs on the top shelf of the fridge. All my money faces the same way and is stacked in descending denominations. Sandwiches are cut in half lengthwise, not diagonally. And I always use two paper towels – not three and certainly not one – after washing my hands in a public bathroom.

Nothing too weird, right? Hey, I’m sure each and every one of you has your own particular "quirks."

But I bet you don’t go into a panic when you think your favorite pen has run out of ink. And I’m almost positive you don’t let out a girly squeal when you realize you weren’t pressing hard enough and there’s just enough ink to get you through the day.

As long as you use it sparingly. Whew.

Upon reflection I realized that this is just the latest in a long line of pen obsessions that might be, um, I don’t know, unhealthy?

The first was in grade school when I wouldn’t write with anything but those classic Bic ballpoints. You know the kind: clear body, pointy cap great for jabbing people. Black ink, medium point. I mean, what kind of man writes with a fine point?!

In high school I graduated to the Papermate Write Bros., the kind with the solid blue body. The flat caps weren’t as good for poking, but the ink had a better flow to it and my "handwriting" had less of a serial killer look. The only problem was in the quality control… they had a tendency to gob up at the tip, and I was forever smearing ink on the back pages of my notebook. Listen, if I want to go to that kind of trouble I’ll use one of those crazy quills you can buy at Independence Hall in Philly!

The pen fetish sorta broke down in college. When you’re trying to figure out how to scrape together $7 for a case of Natty Boh, the last thing you need to obsess on is your choice of writing implements.

My post-college years have been an ongoing experiment in regaining that feeling of calm the Bics and Papermates of the world provided. The Micro Uni Ball was a hit for a while, especially when I could lift boxes of them from my employer’s supply room. But they ran out of ink too fast and were undependable. There were even times when I flirted with the retro feel of those classics from my youth. Unfortunately, we can put monkeys into space but we still can’t put metal in a microwave and Papermates still gob up like a trashcan in a cystic fibrosis clinic.

These days I’m using the Gelly Roll PQ that my girlfriend recently gave me. (Check out that cool spelling. Oh so very hip-hop!) Okay, she gave it to me so I wouldn’t permanently "borrow" it. But it is now my pen, my favorite pen. It’s got a groovy translucent body that gives you that immediate ink feedback that’s so crucial, and the way some of the residue hangs out at the end of the barrel totally kicks it old school. It even feels "just right" in my hand and I’ve switched to blue ink, but only because I haven’t experimented with other colors. But I will. Oh, trust me, I will.

Sensing that all this money stacking, fridge organizing, and list making was at the root of a much bigger problem, I did what anybody looking for a quick mental health diagnosis would do… I fired up the Internet. Where else could I go? The women’s mags won’t be running their OCD quizzes until later this year… and I can’t wait!

The fine folks at the OCD Foundation were kind enough to let me know right off the bat that I wasn’t alone. In fact, according to their statistics, 1 out of every 50 adults struggles with the urge to brush their teeth five times each morning and count their pistachios each afternoon. But it’s "only when symptoms persist, make no sense, cause much distress, or interfere with functioning do they need clinical attention."

I feel so much better.

Before my life turned into a bad remake of WHAT ABOUT BOB? I decided that I should either count the change in my coinbox again or take the OCD Quiz. Yes, you too can find out if you have a debilitating mental disorder treatable only thorugh years of therapy and the occasional prescription drug. Then again, maybe that urge to push strangers in front of oncoming trains is completely harmless.


Well, 20 questions or so later and I'm feeling that my mental state is right as rain. Based on my test results, it would appear that I "probably do not have OCD." While this wasn't the warm, fuzzy ringing endorsement of my mental health that I was looking for, it'll certainly do in a pinch!

I'd love to stay and chat, but I have to go make sure I filled all the ice cube trays to the exact same level.

Until next time...

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