Monday, July 13, 2009

My Anal Retention is Showing

John Denver's Greatest Hits album cover

Looking in the mirror this morning I had a terrible realization. I'm never going to be one of those "not a hair out of place" kind of people. Not that this has been an ambition or anything, but the obvious is obvious. It doesn't matter how well I brush, comb, or pat, by the time I get wherever I'm going, I look like a caricature of John Denver (without the hat). I guess I should just thank God I'm a country boy and call it good.

There are those, however, who manage to keep their hair -- and everything else, it seems -- in place. Their clothes are never wrinkled, their desk never messy, and their homes look like a showcase for an architecture magazine. They are meticulous, always on time, and drive the rest of us crazy. What's up with that?

Some call it perfectionism and others would say, "S/he's a neat freak." Wilhelm Reich describes it as compulsiveness. For the record, we're not talking about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder -- people with OCD are inhibited by their repetitive behaviors and frequently miserable. The compulsive, on the other hand, is generally happy with the way they are and thinks the world would be a better place if everyone was a little "neater." I know, you almost have to be anal-retentive to figure all this out.

Well, the compulsive is driven -- it's like a compulsion -- to be detail-oriented, organized, in control, and not too emotional. It's probably no mystery that they attract mates who are prone to be free spirits -- or scatter-brained, depending on who's talking. Anyhow, someone has to do the feeling in a relationship and it's not going to be the compulsive, if they have anything to say about it. Emotions are too unpredictable and compulsives like predictability. Me, I like surprises.

So, forget my hair, anyone who has seen my desk knows I got short-changed when compulsiveness was handed out. The same is true for being on time, much to at least one professor's chagrin. I do have this thing about straightening crooked pictures, though -- oops, my anal retention is showing.


(Album cover copyright 1973 by RCA records; Thank God I'm a Country Boy lyrics by John Martin Sommers;
Image via Wikipedia)

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