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October 14, 2005

I hope Anderson Cooper got his flu shot.


By now, you already know that we're all living on borrowed time. I hope you're living it up. Buying that yarn you really, really want. Eating that Halloween candy like it's medicine.

Because apparently we're all about to die.

Some kind of chicken flu is going to kill all humans at an unspecified time. Even though it hasn't really gotten out of hand yet, the news folks still have to tell us we're about to die on a daily basis. Faith is annoyed at all the newscasters right now, not for their scariness, but because they cannot say Avian Flu properly. They keep calling in the Evian Flu. Not as deadly as Perrier Flu but a whole lot cheaper than Pelligrino Flu?

Now, I live in Los Angeles, a diverse city of many colorful and diseased individuals. I work downtown, in a building surrounded by humans who have suspect hygiene. I take mass transportation. I have no protective plastic bubble.

In conclusion, there isn't enough anti-bacterial soap in the world for the amount of hand-washing I probably need to do. And yet... something is not right. Something is broken.

Something in OCD Land is amiss. Because I am not freaking out about this one.

My mom and I were talking on the phone the other day and when I brought up the Bird Flu she sighed. A deep, sad sigh. The sentiment of a woman whose kid is a nutjob with a handbag full of wet wipes.

Me: blah blah blah flu pandemic, I guess everyone's going to die?

My mom: (deep sigh) I was afraid to even mention this to you. Do you already have it?

Me: Surprisingly, no. In fact, I believe I am immune to this Evian Flu.

My mom: (possibly falls over from shock) ... what? I'm sorry. Did you just say you are immune from the bird flu? Aren't you the same girl who was sure monkeypox was all around you? And West Nile? Didn't you tell your boss he might have West Nile?

Me: Yes. But for some reason this one doesn't scare me. I don't believe in it. Therefore I'm fine.

My mom: ... oh. (silence) OK. (silence) Well then. (silence) Are you feeling OK?

And the really creepy thing is that ... it's true. I'm fine. I could care less about the Evian Flu. And now I suspect I may have been bodysnatched by aliens and replaced with a non-OCD version of me. Because this is all very unlike me. After careful evaluation, and two glasses of wine, I have concluded that the OCD may be subsiding. A little.

Coincidentally, my OCD issues have declined in direct proportion to how bad my case of divorce has been (I like to think of my divorce as an illness, something that came on real sudden, made me very sick, and now I'm in the long recovery period. I still have relapses of divorce, but for the most part I'm getting better.)

Back in my pre-DivorcePox days, I was what one might call "a little freakishly OCD." As I got older it seemed to get more intense. When people would meet me, and spend any amount of time with me, they seemed to go through a three-step process of dealing with my OCD.

Stage One: Discovery. Upon getting to know me, they begin to notice little oddities. Like the look of pain that comes across my face when a wet sneezer passes next to me and expels all his/her germs. In this phase, the OCD is funny. Quirky. People are indulgently tolerant.

Stage Two: Realization. Over time, they begin to realize that these little quirks once considered so amusing are in fact real issues. Not made-up witticisms. Maybe not funny at all. Slowly, it sinks in. The OCD is not a joke, and the hands cannot actually touch the door handles. The quirks are no longer endearing, they're downright annoying.

Stage Three: Acceptance. People begin to accept the quirks as just another part of the personality package. There is rationalization. "Well, some people do that snot-sucking noise with their nose... she just happens to be an OCD freak who doesn't touch door handles. Everyone has a quirk. It's better than the snot thing!" In the Acceptance stage, folks begin to ignore the quirks. Much like parents who can somehow NOT HEAR THEIR OWN KID SCREAMING IN PUBLIC. But I digress.

Occasionally there's even a Phase Four: OCD Transference. Wherein the friend begins to see the logic of my ways, and goes from asking for a wet wipe to carrying their own wet wipes. It happens.

So, anyway, somewhere during my battle with this nasty case of DivorcePox, the OCD calmed down. A little. Door handles are still a problem. And wet sneezers are still horrifying. But lately I've been pressing elevator buttons without a barrier kleenex. I didn't wet-wipe-disinfect the table at Starbucks last weekend. I just let it go.

As for the Evian flu, I think I'll sit this one out. Ya'll let me know how it goes. I'll be over here with the yarn of my dreams and some fun-size Halloween candy ... right after I wash my hands.

Just for good measure.

Posted by laurie at October 14, 2005 11:22 AM