Nippy's Don't Touch
I have a confession to make. I tend to be a little OCD on occasion with OCPD thrown in. Not to the degree that it controls my life completely but enough to cause me anxiety on occasion, thank you. I frequently resort to repetitive behaviors. I mentally repeat phrases and count numbers. I'm doing that now. I'm repeating four words to a song right now while typing. I can't help it. It has always been a part of me. I also like orderliness...ask my wife. One of our most frequent fights, when we first married, was over things not being put back in their place after being used. Now she just tells me to “get over it. It's your problem, not mine.” That works. And, because of Frances, I tend to not be as compulsive anymore. Well, at least, I think so. She probably has a different story but we better leave that alone.
When I was ten, my parents built a house back in the 1950's out on Jackson Street Extension, which was out in the country then (my daddy was always looking for more room. He didn't like to be crowded with neighbors). It was a beautiful ranch style house with three bedrooms on one side with a long hall connecting it all. Since there were four of us children, two boys and two girls, we had rooms we shared with a bathroom between our two rooms. So, growing up I had to share a room with my brother who was four years younger. He obviously did not have any of my tendencies and was a constant source of aggravation We lived this way until I left for college.
The room had built in headboards against a wall and two single beds side by side. We each had our own closets and shelves and space on the headboard to hold our stuff. Very typical of homes built in the fifties. That was nice and neat for normal children like Beaver Cleaver and Wally, but we were not like that at all. We were constantly fighting with each other. We seemed to have absolutely nothing in common. Nothing, I say.
My side of the room had everything in its place. I always made my bed, kept my comic books neatly stacked on my side of the headboard and had sweet potato vines in vases growing. I hung my clothes in the closet with the short sleeve shirts first, followed by long sleeve ones, then the pants. The shirts were buttoned neatly and all the shirts and hangers hung in the same direction, evenly spaced. My chest of drawers had my socks neatly rolled and placed by color, the underwear and tee shirts neatly folded and in their own drawers. Everything had its place. I frequently was caught saying, “That's mine. Don't touch. Don't mess up my stuff.”
Bobby on the other hand was a slob in the worst way. He never picked up anything. His side of the room had clothes thrown on the floor, on the bed, hanging on doorknobs...you name it. He never, ever made his bed and kept wads of bubblegum glued to one corner of his headboard. He had jars and jars of pickled snakes and rats and collections of bugs sitting on shelves. He never shut his closet door. Everything was a wreck. I hated it. Worst of all, I had to cross his side to get to the bathroom and step on those sloppy clothes.
Thankfully mother stepped in and had the headboard unattached to the wall and placed down the center of the room giving each of us some space - our own side of the room. This helped a small amount. I still remained upset and continued repeating, “That's mine. Don't touch.” He repeatedly continued throwing things on my side and messing up my neat stack of books.
My sister Becky and my cousin Merry didn't help matters either. They were older than I and made fun of my being so persnickety neat. I was taunted with “Nippy's don't touch” by both of them when Merry came to visit. I got no respect.
Well, here's the rub. I went away to RA camp one week back in the summer of 1955. That's Royal Ambassadors for you who may be unfamiliar. It is an organization in the Baptist church for boys in grades 1-6 whose purpose is to involve them in missions. I had looked forward to camp because it had lots of outdoor activities and boy stuff to do led by state leaders and missionaries. So I was going to be gone for one week. Just one little week in the summer. Well, that same week, my cousin Merry was coming to stay with Becky. I gave detailed instructions to mama, as to not letting them on my side of the room and not to touch my stuff. I even checked twice, or three times, before I left making sure everything was neat and in its place.
While I was gone. Disaster struck. Becky and Merry not only entered my room but they carefully taped a sign on every piece of clothing I owned. Every plant, every book, every shoe, EVERYTHING I OWNED! Each sign had the words neatly typed, “NIPPY'S DON'T TOUCH!” The clothes had hangers turned the wrong way, and out of order, the drawers were switched around and unrolled socks and underwear were messed up together in the same drawers. Shoes were sitting on top of the headboard. Comic books were in drawers. Everything was totally messed with!
I WAS LIVID!!!!!
I'm not sure who typed “Nippy's Don't Touch”, but I wouldn't be surprised if my mother had been the instigator. I do remember mama and the girls laughing and telling me to get over it. Mama never admitted it.
So that is my confession. I'm sadder but wiser now and tend to control my compulsions better. At least in my head. 1,2,3,4,5. 1,2,3,4,5. 1,2,3,4,5. I say that is groups of three because three is my favorite number and I like to repeat things at least three times to keep order.
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