One of my colleagues recently told me that she thought I was ‘anal’. As a Scot, brought up in the sixties, this is not a word I’d readily use about myself, or anyone else for that matter – it has way too many unsavoury connotations. But this colleague lived in San Diego for three years so maybe that explains things. Maybe it doesn’t, but please do not take offence at this thought if you in fact live there today.
Anyway, I harrumphed around the office for a while after she said it, then got to thinking about why she might have said it as she watched me sweep cake crumbs from under a coffee table. There’s a clue in there somewhere, I’m sure.
Yourdictionary.com defines the word thus: someone who is really uptight and particular and who always wants things a certain way…
Who? Me? What do you mean? I’m the coolest person on Earth.
Yeah, right. My last post was a blaring example of this anality, analness, analment or whatever the noun may be. All that complaining about incorrect spelling and horrible grammar rules. I’m sure I didn’t make many friends along the way there.
But my colleague wasn’t talking about that. She was talking about the side of me which can’t stand crumbs or leaves or bits of fluff on our office floor. She was talking about how I constantly straighten cushions and clean coffee stains and remove broken fingernails and stray eyebrow hairs from students’ desks (but thank God someone does it). How I gently push the ‘Come In’ sign just a little higher up on its miniature chain to make it hang perfectly, and wipe the dirty fingerprints from the many sticky glass doors in the building.
But surely that’s just my over-zealous work persona? On reflection I realise it’s not. I have a certain anal side at home too. Curtains not fully opened in the morning, squinty fluffy throws, the feather-filled sofa not quite fat enough. They all need the once-over from the Queen of Just Right. I’m definitely not the Queen of Perfectly Clean, just the ruler of some kind of weird superficial surface order.
Things get worse in the kitchen, especially inside the cutlery drawer and the dishwasher. I mean, how hard is it to put all the forks together, and the glasses on one side of the top tray and the mugs on the other? Very hard indeed obviously for Hubby and the girlies. What do they not understand?
Which reminds me of a joke. How many men does it take to change a toilet roll? Nobody knows, it’s never been done. Or if it is ever done the paper comes down from the wrong side and I have to turn it around.
Or do I? I wonder what would happen if, one day, I allowed each sheet to come from the back of the roll and not from the front? Would it stop doing its job the way it was meant to? Would we all leave that little blue-tiled space looking and feeling (and smelling) unclean?
Mmm. Probably not. But I’m way too anal to ever want to find out…
Image courtesy of Mother Nature Network, showing the right way for the paper to hang. Take note.