- by Michael!
You probably think I’m sane.
Still wrong? *sigh* Fine, then. You’re ruining my big
reveal, but here it is:
Joanie and I have been writing this blog for a while now –
quite a while – and we’ve talked about a lot of things that contributed to our
overall tenuous grip on reality, but I’ve never really gone into the specific
little things through which I exhibit that my deck of cards has at least three
extra aces in it.
For instance, I am a compulsive alphabetizer.
This used to be a bigger problem. Back when I still owned
CDs, every time I purchased a new one I had to completely rearrange the entire
rack in order to fit the new member of the family into its proper place. (Band
name/artist’s last name, organized chronologically within each band/artist.)
Once I was in college, buying a new CD could involve shuffling hundreds of
jewel-boxes around – and, of course, a complete reorganization of my car’s
three CD-wallets, since I would need to pick other selections that would
adequately complement the newest offering.
Today, iTunes does the alphabetizing of the music collection
– and it’s a good thing, too, because Joanie is just as avid a fan of music collecting
as I am. At last count, we have enough music in our library to last until,
roughly, a million years after the end of time.
We still have DVDs, but not very many, so they’re not a
challenge. And we actively try NOT to purchase new books, since this can
actually cause me to lose entire weekends of existence during which I do not
respond to any external stimuli whatsoever.
When you were young, did you invent silly little games to
play in the privacy of your own mind while you were engaged while enduring some
never-ending drudgery? Particularly driving long distances? I sure did. Most
fell by the wayside, but one that I came up with in about the sixth grade has
stuck with me for decades.
I had the help of our math teacher. She was explaining some
little math tricks to us, just small parlor-games with numbers that were
supposedly going to make us pay more attention in class. While I remained a
starry-eyed daydreamer (or book-reader, take your pick), the trick she showed
us with multiples of three was one I found particularly cool.
I’m sure you know it, but I’ll describe it briefly – to see
if any number beyond one digit is divisible by three, add up each individual
number until you’re left with a single-digit number. If it’s 3, 6, or 9, then
the original number was divisible by 3. (If it’s 9, then the original number
was also divisible by 9, but that was less interesting to me.)
For instance, 135. 1+3+5=6. Divisible by three! 142, on the
other hand, adds up to 7. No dice. It works with any number, no matter how
large, and is simple enough for anybody with a basic knowledge of arithmetic to
grasp and appreciate.
So the next time The Family drove more than an hour, I
remembered this little trick and started collecting numbers.
Numbers off of license plates, numbers off of mile-markers,
numbers off of billboards, you name it. And I would add up the individual
digits, always trying to get to one of those three mystical numbers: 3, 6, or
Here’s the crazy part, though: as long as I was in the car, I
never let myself stop.
It wasn’t as though there was a reward for finishing. Not
even a made-up one. I didn’t get ‘points’ for different numbers, or for
collecting a certain number of threes, or anything like that. Got to a 3, 6, or
9? Just started over.
If the trip ended before I finished off the last set, I
would at best feel grumpy and uncomfortable. At worst, I would refuse to leave
This is still a compulsion! Seriously! I have to fight
myself on a regular basis NOT to keep track of things (right now my word count
is 696, which is fine) like numbers around me.
It helps that Joanie and I have complementary crazies. I’m
undoubtedly the nuttier of the two of us, but at least she’s in the ballpark.
As an example, we have multi-colored Fiesta-ware dishes, and she gets VERY
UPSET if I accidentally put two items of the same color on the table together.
Or touching in the cabinet.
So at least I’m not alone. And that’s really the important
thing – I can admit that I’m nuts, and not feel badly, because I have such a
delightful person with whom to share my insanity.
I’d like to end with something a little different – as mentioned
in the Facebook post, I’d like to hear you share your crazy with me. With us.
Just send a FaceBook message to Joanie or I, or leave a comment below, or shoot
us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
– any of the above will work. You’ll feel less alone, and you’ll almost
certainly make us laugh, and we just might do a follow-up listing some of the
But one thing you can count on.
And that’s that the word count for this article is a
multiple of three.