I was surprised on Saturday evening when we were having dinner at John and Janet’s house and John revealed that he is highly particular about two things: the cleanliness of his boat and the packing of a moving truck.
This surprised me about John, because we grew up living in the same house and I have always believed him to be easy-going in every sense of the word. I don’t know if I have ever in my life seen John upset. This is how I imagine it: “Can’t you see how upset I am?…..You can’t?…..How about now?….Still no? Well, I guess I can understand your point of view…..” This is a trait I admire very much.
The boat-cleanliness thing I can understand. Our dad is highly particular about this as well. He likes you to rinse your feet off before climbing into the boat. Clearly this is inherited. If I ever own a boat, I will make sure everybody’s feet are clean before I chop up the prop on the ramp and crash into the dock.
The moving-truck thing is foreign. He feels strongly about the placement of items and the usage of space. If you really want to freak my brother out, ask him to help you move, and then duct tape him to a chair and force him to watch you haphazardly stack and shove boxes. Which is probably what I would do. (The haphazard stuff, not the duct-taping my brother.)
So, anyway, after John revealed this, I wondered what particular things the rest of us are highly particular about. Janet says she is highly particular about exercise. She says she feels terribly guilty if she doesn’t exercise. She actually likes to exercise. Again, this is foreign to me. I feel fantastic when I don’t exercise. Fantastic and not sweaty.
Ryan is particular about his yard. All of his school-year focus and determination get poured into the flowers and trees in our yard during the summer vacation. We have multiple conversations about the health and well-being of his plants. “Come out and look at these petunias,” he’ll say, “the leaves are going yellow.” (By “yellow” he means a shade lighter than dark green.) I go because I care about him. Not because I fully understand.
Most particular fetishes are quite silly and of little consequence. Boats still work when dirty. Moving trucks still move when poorly packed. Bodies still function without exercise. Flowers still grow without psychotherapy. But my engrossment is of a different nature. It affects the very tilt and rotation of the planet on its axis.
Just think what would happen if I didn’t methodically clean out my ears and the ears of my children. I mean, just imagine the horror! What if those sludgy little ear boogars were allowed to creep out of the ear canal and into society? I must never let it happen. If they can be seen, or probed for with a Q-tip, then they have ventured too far! Ears should be clean, pristine, shiny. Even if it means I have to tackle my children at times, pin them to the ground, and use my own fingers to avert disaster, I’m willing to do that for Planet Earth.
It’s okay if your particular fixation is not as significantly essential as mine. Not all are created equal. That’s the nature of things. But I’m still wondering, what are you highly particular about?