In the days before Internet, I wrote a newsletter for a bunch of my buddies and was the guiltiest plagiarizer in town. After the Internet burst upon us, I became afraid to plagiarize or even to make stuff up. This month however, I’m plagiarizing myself on a column I recently wrote for my sophomoric ‘Weakly’ newsletter.
Almost everyone has quirky habits. I certainly have my share which you can count later. We all do strange things that are almost uncontrollable—especially in our cars at stop lights when we think no one is looking. You know what I mean.
Tons of people talk to themselves. I sometimes catch myself talking while motoring alone. When I realize what I’m doing, I tell myself to shut up and I do.
The other day as I sat at a stoplight on S. Washington, I saw a fellow on the corner fighting with himself. He was talking loudly and waving his arms in one direction. Then he turned in the opposite direction to start hollering and waving a mean index finger in an imaginary face. Like a good movie, I could have watched for hours, but other drivers started honking when the light changed.
I’m also a compulsive counter. Whenever I see multiple items, I first guess how many and then I proceed to count them.
For instance, the first time I enter someone’s house, while we’re chatting in the entry way, I begin counting the tiles on the floor. If there are ceiling tiles, I’ll count them.
And I’ll certainly count the pieces of carrots in the salad and peas in the soup.
Stoplight delays are the worst. As hard as I’ve tried, I can’t stop counting how many lug nuts are in the wheels of the cars alongside me. Most have five, but I get lucky once in a while and find one with six per wheel. The best is when I’m stopped alongside a semi-truck. There’s a lot of good counting there.
My wife won’t hold my hand in bed at night because she says I keep counting her fingers—over and over and over. When that happens I count my own fingers by gently tapping each finger on the sheet—over and over and over.
One time she asked, “How many tonight, Ed?”
Habits are strange and hard to break. At one time in my life I burned three packs of Marlboro’s a day. Somehow I found strength to quit, cold turkey. But…I can’t stop counting. What’s wrong with me, Dr. Litow?
It’s hard being a strange person.