Thursday, May 27, 2010

Confession #1 - Mold and Metchup

Despite my best efforts, my apartment does not always stay clean. Sometimes the laundry piles up.  Sometimes I only vacuum once a week. Sometimes the Super Duper Cooper Pooper Puppy gets hold of a role of paper towels and makes it his personal mission to manufacture confetti. And I have to wonder, what good is having obsessive-compulsive disorder if it doesn’t mean that my apartment is immaculate, organized, and perfect all of the time? Why doesn’t it work that way?

Suffice to say that it doesn't. Sometimes, having OCD makes cleaning even harder. Case in point: The Mold Phobia.

I am unequivocally afraid of mold. I don’t know why. I don’t know when it started. I don’t think I had any bad mold experiences in my childhood. But somewhere along the line, I decided that mold was evil and bad and grandpa-drops-his-pants-scary. The irony of this is that my fear of mold means I am much more likely to manufacture it than the average person. Why, you ask?
Because cleaning out the refrigerator scares the bejeebus out of me.  I have to work up to it. I have to talk myself into it. I have to, I kid you not, take my prescribed anti-anxiety medication (Ah, Xanax, how you are loved.) I have to suit up. This entails slipping into a pair of rubber gloves from one of the three boxes I keep in the laundry nook (both rubber AND latex. Just in case. In case someone comes to my house and decides I am unworthy because I don’t have one of the other. I know. I’m weird. Feel free to leave at any time.) And then there is the bandanna, tied around my head to protect my mouth and nose, and obscure as much of my vision as possible. The sight of mold will make me shriek and run away. I kid you not.

When I’m done, the gloves get thrown out. The bandanna goes immediately into the hamper. My hands get washed. And most of the time, it takes more than an hour to recover from the horrors of fridge cleaning. Even when the damn thing is mold free. I didn’t realize just how bad this was until I was watching Iron Chef America last week, and the secret ingredient was blue cheese. Anyone know what they make that stuff with? Anyone? Want to take a guess? I’ll give you a hint. It ain’t food coloring. And ten minutes into the show, I felt the familiar thud of my heartbeat as it sped up and tried to launch my body into fight-or-flight. Over images of mold on the television screen.

What do I think this mold is going to do to me? Grow uncontrollably until it takes over the apartment, sprouting teeth and eating me? Become toxic and infect me with a virus that will cause a slow and painful death? Develop into a walking, talking alien species that will eventually take over the planet? I have no idea. All I know is that it scares me. It is an evil, EVIL monster, lurking in the depths of my refrigerator, just waiting for me reach my hand in so it can wrap its green/blue fuzzy hands around my wrist and suck me into the fridge to live forever. Or something.

Since the method of beating phobias is typically to expose oneself to what one is afraid of, I really can’t see myself getting over this any time soon. I, for one, do not have a burning desire to become one with the mold. I want it to die. I want it to suffer. Or at least to be as afraid of me as I am of it.

All of this reminds me of something that happened in the fourth grade. No, it wasn't mold related. But it had to do with something I was equally grossed out to see: Metchup.

I knew a girl in the fourth grade (which was a sucky year for me, by the way) named Kristen. Kristen was nice enough. She was friendly. And I might have become good friends with her, had she not committed a crime at lunch one day that was so heinous, I knew then and there we would never be close.
Kristen mixed her Ketchup and her Mustard. Then she dipped her chicken in the sick looking orangey-pink concoction, and ate it. And I wanted to hurl.

I never told her that this was the reason I didn’t like her back then. I don’t think I ever told her that I didn’t like her. And we did eventually become, at least, friendly acquaintances. But I never could get the image of the Kustard-Metchup mixture out of my head. It’s still there. It still makes me feel a little sick.

Much like the Fussy Handed Mold Monster, the sight of those two sauces mixing together bothered me. I wish I could tell you that the food-mixing problem went away, and I grew up to be a normal adult. But you all know me. You’d know I was lying. I’m not normal, am I? NO! True to form, I still hate to see some foods mixing. But I will say that I no longer make snap judgments about people based on their choice of dipping sauces. I even have friends who eat Metchup. These days, I just try not to look.

And Kristen? I’m sorry. I was a weird little kid. 

Now that I've purged my soul, and scared you all away, I'm going to clean my best friend's house. Because that's a good penance for being a freak. Right?


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