What’s Your Disorder? (Can’t I Just Enjoy Mine In Peace?)

Will the labeling committee please stand up?

I mean, who gets to decide an action, a trait, or a preference, is ”pathological”, then create a pithy little acronym by tagging a ”D” on, and subjugate the behavior into a disorder? Who are these people?

Can somebody please tell me what is so wrong with being active and having a hard time paying attention to one thing at a time? So what your knee twitches up and down like the needle on a sewing machine; you wave your hands like a traffic-cop on speed when you talk; and you happen to notice and point out every cardinal that lands in the back yard during your wife’s attempt to tell you about her day with the kids? Is it really such a crime to be aware? (At least you choked down your suspected Aspergers and didn’t mock her for the hair you saw growing out of her left ear.)

Maybe a chart exists with the exact amount of attention every single topic deserves to have paid to it in milliseconds of unbroken focus. But who actually came up with the precise sum of Attention you have to pay not to be in a deficit state? Who are these attention auditors who determine what attention should be spent on?

I think what the attention police really have a problem with isn’t that you’re not paying attention. It’s that you’re paying attention to the WRONG DAMN THING! You should be aware that there may come a day in the not-too-distant-future, when you’re prevented from going to a movie, reading a novel, or stalking on Facebook because your attention credit score is blown from missed attention installments to the right things: like work meetings and class lectures.

You’d think that protecting your attention from boredom, and saving it for important stuff like the way dust mites sometimes sparkle like floating rainbow-prisms if you hold your head sideways near your desktop and the sunlight slants in the classroom window just so, would help you to jack up your Attention balance. That attention to detail ought to count for something! But your balance takes a beating because the pencil sharpener is diagonally opposite and across the room from you and you need the fine point of a very sharp pencil several times a class. Your deficit only decreases in a ratio proportionate both to how uninspiring the subject matter is, and how little temptation it holds for your innate curiosity (with extra-credit given if you sit ramrod straight with your hands folded in your lap, no matter how dull your pencil gets).

Look, just because when you’re at work, you don’t happen to notice and become distracted by the sound of your spinning hard drive, doesn’t prove that I’ve got a problem for ALWAYS NOTICING MINE! Maybe I’m just sensitive to my environment, like a finely-attuned, fully-functional, highly-trained member of the ecosystem, you ever think of that, you haters? (I bet you don’t even hear the audible frequency change when your DVR cycles on in the night! And yet, I’m the one with the disorder?)

Here’s my vote for the Attention-Deficit-Hyper-Active crowd. I propose we start calling ourselves Awareness Ninjas because we need love too! Reacting to being surrounded by sedentary people with Yawn-Inducing-Conversation-Topic-Disorder, shouldn’t result in all the negative publicity and prescriptions for adderall. Who but we will interrupt you in the middle of your rambling story to point out the cool way the tree branches bounce and sway in the breeze like they’re connected to invisible yo-yo bungees? Give credit where credit is due.

But let’s move on to my favorites, the Obsessive-Compulsives, of whom I admit I am a charter member. Everything is fine with scouring the Internet to accumulate every little nuanced scrap of minute data about waterfowl hunting and collecting items for said pursuit until somebody has to go and call it “Obsessive!” Yes, I remember owning the chest high waders and tying my chocolate Labrador in the trunk of the Buick to go duck hunting with forty-five dollar boxes of copper-pelleted shotgun shells and three different types of handmade duck calls after spending hours practicing in front of VHS duck-calling videos and almost got my shotgun thrown into the lake by the irate, duck-loving landowner whose permission I forgot to seek before putting my two-dozen plastic decoys into his favorite bass pond without tethering them to anything more substantial than his wife’s rose trellis. (A man’s got to hunt!) Plus, I told you that yes, all three calls were necessary because they represented the three different stages of successfully convincing the little gourmet-meals-on-the-wing to apply their air brakes and alight in your spread within shotgun range, and they’re expensive because you have to pay for quality with ducks being smart enough to discern the difference between plastic and handmade as anyone who’s researched the matter knows.

Of course, since you’ve watched me grok out on (and later graduate from) duck hunting…and mountain bike riding…and drawing…and Battlefield 3, I don’t expect you to understand that in fact it does require a bare minimum of two subscriptions to different golf magazines, and an hour a day watching “Golf Fix” plus several times a week hitting buckets of balls in order to be moderately successful on the course. I’m sure you don’t realize that most serious golfers own three or four putters and three or four drivers like I do, and that the quest for the perfect driver/putter is a serious one with no discernible end in sight and, I am not the one who sets the prices on this stuff.

Don’t even get me started on the number of guns one must own, and the accessories one must acquire, and time one must devote, in order to be a responsibly armed citizen with the requisite knowledge and skill to secure his domicile, and to protect your right to label people like me if and when the SHTF. Truly, I should be praised for being intense and thorough and practical, not degraded with a label like OCD. I guess some people are just content to be passive and mediocre.

And does it really bother you so much that all of my picture frames hang straight and that the items on my desk are lined up into neat little, geometrically symmetrical piles? At least all of the golf tees emptied on to it from my pocket (even the broken ones) all point in the same direction like they should. Who else would be devoted to precision like that? Just because I feel nauseous and get vertigo when I walk in your house with its tilted pictures, and I freak out when I open the silverware drawer to discover that the spoons have hopped the barrier and nestled in with your forks, you have to judge me and say I’m the one with a disorder? Ever hear of a thing called a level? I mean, please! Why do you even bother with a divider tray? And you should just confess you were being a little devious to stack the tee shirts in groups of mixed colors on the closet shelf.

And while I’m on it: just how do you go about making coffee if you think your way is better than mine? Do you really think yours tastes better just because you can make it at any old haphazard time of morning with any old kind of coffee you happen to have on hand and you don’t count the exact same number of scoops aloud to yourself? How are you supposed to achieve CONSISTENCY that way? I know you’ve even committed the sacrilege of microwaving yesterday’s coffee…heaven forfend!

And I guarantee you my system of organizing the bills in my wallet by denomination in ascending order with all of the faces and numbers pointing in the same direction, is better than yours. I bet you don’t even know where to find a fiver when you need to. I, on the other hand, know that Abe is always tucked right behind George and in front of Alexander. I know it can be embarrassing when I hold up the cafeteria line to get them all in place before moving on, but hey, do you really expect me to be able to feel okay to “keep the line moving sir” with them just crammed in there all willy-nilly? Oh, hell no!

I will admit that getting up at four a.m. to watch foreigners play tennis seven time zones away is a little compulsive, but hey, like Grandaddy Leo used to say, ”sleep is for the birds.” Maybe I just happen to feel guilty knowing someone is over there sweating, while back here in America we’re all asleep. How are they supposed to play to their full potential if I don’t get up and watch?

Also, for the record, there are plenty of other people who become excessively angry when provoked. Been to a Little League game lately? Do we all have Borderline Personalities because we aren’t afraid to display negative emotions and show how much we care? How about your mild-mannered girlfriend who can’t drive to the grocery store without breaking out with traffic Tourette’s? Does she have BPD too?

While we’re on it, I can handle being “bi-polar” a hell of a lot better than being, what? Mono-polar?, uni-polar?, what? Have you looked at a globe recently? How many poles do you see? What’s the big problem with having two of them? How would we know North if not for South, or Hot if not for Cold, or Happy if not for Sad? Just seems well-rounded to me, but I digress…

Look, I don’t go around campaigning that you have RMD (Random Money Disorder) or CNFCKIYPD (Can Never Find Car Keys In Your Pocketbook Disorder), so stop hating on me, alright?

Anyway, I’d like to meet these people with all the spare “D’s” to throw around? I bet they are some real calm, focused, middle-of-the-road, milquetoast dudes and dudettes.


I’d buy them a beer at Hinson’s, and try to liven them up a little bit, except anyone who shows up at Hinson’s more than once (and likes it) obviously has some kind of greasy food and alcohol disorder.