Every day on my drive to work, as I turn onto Oglesby Road for the final half-mile stretch, I unlock my car doors. Sometimes I actually think to myself, “I need to unlock the doors so that people can reach me if I’m in a crash.” Mostly though, I do this without conscious thought.

  1. It’s very unlikely that I’ll ever crash on this half-mile stretch of straight, low-speed country road, the single piece of road that I am most familiar with (having spent my entire life traveling over it).
  2. It’s even more unlikely that any crash on this stretch would incapacitate me, or require people to open the doors from the outside.
  3. I don’t do this at any other time. Ever. Yet I do it every day.
  4. I think the auto-locking car doors are stupid. They’re a nuisance and not a convenience. I have no idea when this became a standard feature or why. But have I ever searched how to de-activate the option? No.

Every time I get milk from the fridge, I sniff the container before pouring. I don’t always check the date, but I always sniff the container.

  1. Though I have had sour milk in the past — and have even had sour milk from an unexpired container — this has only happened a couple times in my entire life.
  2. Lately I’ve begun buying the ultra-pasteurized milk, the stuff that lasts for six weeks or more. I usually finish a carton nearly a month before the expiration date. I still sniff the container every time.
  3. I don’t sniff ice cream or any other dairy product. Only milk.
  4. I sniff all milk containers I use, even those in other people’s homes.

I sniff books, too, but not because I think they’re going to go bad.

  1. The first thing I do when I get a book, or when I pick one up in a store, or at a friend’s house, is to sniff it.
  2. I’ve always sniffed books (and magazines). I can’t remember a time that I didn’t.
  3. I put my nose against the pages and fan them, getting a good whiff of the paper, the ink, the cover, the binding.
  4. I have an unwritten, unordered classification for types of smells. If I wanted to, I could write down an entire taxonomy of book smells. There are general categories, of course — musty, smoky, newsprinty, new-y, etc. — but there are also minute gradations — like a late-seventies Harvey comic, like a Del Rey sci-fi paperback, like a grade school library book, like a European food magazine.
  5. I’ll frequently smell a book and think something like “Aha! This book smells very similar to that book on dirigibles that I smelled at that thrift store we went to with Jenn in 2002.” Seriously.

I am addicted to the internet.

  1. My e-mail program polls for new messages every sixty seconds. Sometimes I check manually between automatic checks.
  2. I check my friends’ weblogs many times each day.
  3. When I post something on the comic book forums, or on AskMetafilter, or anywhere else, I check for responses over and over and over again, sometimes for days after the post.
  4. I cannot allow myself to use an RSS reader because when I do, I subscribe to dozens of feeds. I check them each morning, and then I refresh constantly, craving the next hit, the next news story, the next new link. RSS readers kill me, make me permanently attached to my internet connection.
  5. I write twice as many weblog entries as I actually post. I have scores of fragments saved to my hard drive. I want to post them all, but generally forget about an entry if I don’t finish it when it’s started.
  6. I own seven domains. Each domain (but the latest) has a web site, though not all of the sites are fully functional or especially useful.

Odds and ends: I am pathologically incapable of following the “clean as you go” program; I “mess as you go” and then clean in bursts. I bathe every day, sometimes twice a day, somtimes three times a day, but I rarely shower. I loathe shaving, and would be wild and hairy if Kris would let me. I cannot help but make smart-ass remarks, even though I know it’s a learned behavior I picked up from my father, a behavior I disliked in him. I love to sort things, and always have: alphabetizing books, organizing the cooking spices, sorting a box of baseball cards, ordering a directory of mp3s. I seem compelled to not put fuel in vehicles until the last possible moment. At home, I drink very little water, but in restaurants I go through the stuff like it’s nothing, consuming a liter or more at each meal.

9 Replies to “Irrational Compulsions”

  1. Joel says:

    Um… I always shower immediately upon getting out of bed. Give me time, I’ll think of more.

  2. Lynn says:

    Very funny. My brother has a smelling compulsion. He smells EVERYTHING. In fact, he almost always touches his nose to what he’s smelling. Once, he even smelled my aunt’s dachshund and got his nose bitten!

  3. dennis says:

    Door locks are intended to help passengers from being ejected in case of an accident. Seat belts were/are the 1st defense, but door locks help. This was an issue that was 1st addressed when seat belts were introduced in the ’60s. Ejection from the auto is more dangerous and likely than people being prevented from helping you out of an unlocked car.

    Additionally, these days there is the safety factor from intruders opening your door when you stop.

    This public service message has been brought to you by the California Dept. of Transportation.

  4. john says:

    One of those comic books that you sent me smelled exactly like my grade school library!

    This post just reminded me of that.

    It was a very deja vu-y experience at the time.

  5. toast says:

    Keep smelling the milk. I don’t think the 6 week in the future date is supposed to apply once you open the ultra-pastuerized stuff. Pretty sure it will turn into a firm putty if left open for four weeks but I don’t have the fridge space to experiment.

    How do you get stuff done with the internet addiction? I want to start a couple of domains but they will be work related (sort of).

  6. Dave says:

    Ah, the smelling books thing. Amusingly enough I distinctly remember when you started doing this. You started smelling books in the 6th or 7th grade. I don’t remember the which one, exactly, but I do remember being in your bedroom reading comic books. I looked over and there you were fanning the pages past your nose. This was unusual enough (even for you) that I asked what you were doing. You said you were smelling the comic book and that you’d just started doing it the day or two before. You’d gone around the house smelling all the books and magazines. For some reason you were facinated by this. I then mentioned that I’d gotten the AD&D Player’s Handbook for Christmas that year and noticed that it had a unique smell.

    Unfortunately, we then spent the next 1/2 hour smelling all of your comic books and your D&D books and modules.

    The indolent life of children.

  7. pril says:

    i used to smell my records. Never really a book smeller, but loved the way the records smelled.

  8. pam says:

    maybe you should make one of your daily web checks an OCD site!

  9. dowingba says:

    A copy of “Of Mice and Men” I had from the school library once smelled exactly like vomit. That marked the day I stopped smelling books.

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