'You Know You're Compulsive When' by Fred Longworth


You dot an "i" and immediately inspect the dot with a magnifying glass to make absolutely sure it's round—but only after polishing both sides of the lens with consecutive applications of vinegar, denatured alcohol, and distilled water, applied with sterile, lint-free cloths. Of course, prior to the examination, your hands must be sanitized with Phisohex, then slipped into latex gloves. One layer of latex will not do. You need to slip a second pair of gloves over the first, and a third pair over the second. Do not forget to wear a canister type breathing apparatus.

Suppose, to your dismay, you find the dot to be lopsided. It's a good deal bolder on the right side than the left, suggesting that the conservative wing of your desk has seized control of your writing implements. Surely, your pens will begin to skip or smear on words like "marijuana," "abortion," and "welfare." To purge this invasion, you shake each pen seven times in the direction of the Equator, while repeating the following mantra: "The right is wrong, the left is right. The right is dark, the left is light."

But wait! Now that the "i" has been handled, there's an acrid odor coming from the kitchen. You check the stove only to discover a saucepan has melted into the burner while performing the simple hygienic act of boiling your underwear and socks. As a way of doing penance for allowing this chaos to occur, you go to your bookshelf and arrange all your volumes in ascending order according to the color temperatures of the covers. At last, you can return to writing your letter. You still have to finish your name and address at the top of the page.

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