Some people are nice enough to call me quirky while others opt for freakin’ crazy. But Jamie calls me Sheldon because my obsessive/compulsive behavior reminds her of the character on The Big Bang Theory. Some days she says I’m just somewhere on the autism spectrum. Other days she’s convinced that I have full-on Aspergers Syndrome.
She may have a point. I accept that I am an odd man. I have enough quirks in my behavior to keep a team of psychologists busy full time.I used to have an employee who took it upon herself to compile a complete, comprehensive list of all my strange habits and odd mannerisms. Apparently the list had made the rounds of the agency and other employees had a real hoot adding items to the list. By the time it reached its final form, they had alphabetized and categorized 19 separate quirky habits. Other employees told me that originator of the list had also worked up a dead-on impression of me, but I could never persuade her to let me see it. She also declined to show me the list of mannerisms.
Why do I tell you this? Because we were having dinner at Tea Trails the other night and on the table sat a candle that tilted at an odd angle inside a small lantern. Let’s say it was 5 degrees off center. I endured it as long as I could before I was compelled to do what any sane, completely rational person would have done under the same circumstances — I squeezed a finger inside the lantern and attempted to adjust the candle into a perfectly upright position without burning my finger.
I looked across the table and Jamie was rolling her eyes. Well, in the interest of complete journalistic accuracy, I should note that she actually stopped rolling her eyes when I accidentally snuffed out the candle, and said, “No, seriously. What is wrong with you?”
“The candle wasn’t straight,” I responded.
“And now the candle is still crooked,” she accurately pointed out, “but it doesn’t have a flame.”
A few minutes later the waiter noticed that our candle had gone out, so he whisked away the candle and lantern, re-lit the wick, and returned it to our table.
We continued to eat until Jamie looked at me and said, “You can’t stand it that the candle’s still not straight, can you?”
“Doesn’t bother me,” I lied.
We continued eating.
I fear the woman is some kind of Svengali, mind-reading, spirit witch, because she stopped eating and sighed, “Go ahead. Straighten the candle.”
I did it. I felt better. Much better. What rational person wouldn’t?
OK, the truth is that Jamie deserves a medal for living with me. My obsessive/compulsive habits would probably drive Mahatma Gandhi to violence and yet she merely laughs at them and humors me.On this trip, for example, I had EVERY detail of our hotels and transportation worked out and reserved months in advance, and color-coded on a series of spreadsheets. I always have to sleep on the side of the bed that has the clock. I must sit on the aisle in airplanes. I won’t sit with my back to the door in restaurants. I must talk to strangers as if they’re my best friends. There’s a website called StatCounter that provides accurate, realtime updates of website traffic and I will stare at the screen and click the refresh button every few seconds for hours until our website traffic reaches a round number. The other night I tried repeatedly to straighten a crooked picture in our hotel room despite the fact that I knew it was nailed securely to the wall. I always order the same meal in each restaurant I go to on a regular basis (at one McKinney restaurant they don’t even wait to ask me what I want. As soon as I walk in the door someone hollers, “Jim!” and my regular order gets to the table almost as soon as I do.)
It’s no wonder I love Jamie. Who else would put up with me?