Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blame My Mom

I’m sure most of you realize by this point that I really have a lot of issues. I have problems. I’m a catastrophe. But in all honesty, I’m really an okay guy. I’m not so bad. I’m not as melancholy as my writing may portray me to be. Really. I’m serious.

Who are you trying to convince, chaz?
I’m not saying I’m without faults. Obviously I have some eccentricities. I’m unique. I’m like a snowflake.

A snowflake? Really?
One of my peculiarities is that I count things. A lot. I count things while I’m walking and I count things while I’m driving. I count things that I’ve counted a million times before. I count and I count and I count. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not so bad off that if I miscount or forget to count that I have to turn around and recount whatever it was that I was counting, but I am pretty bad when it comes to this oddity.

I count steps. There are thirty stairs between the floor I live on and the exit to my apartment building. I count these every morning when I leave and every evening when I come home. The strange part about this is that when I come home, and I walk up the stairs, I walk up a different set of stairs than the ones I walk down to get to my car in the morning. So there are twenty-six steps coming home and thirty steps leaving. This is odd, right? Why would one staircase have more stairs than another? It freaks me out every time I take the stairs.

I count train cars. If I am driving past a train or if a train is going over a bridge I am driving under, I try to count all the cars. This is normal though. Everyone does this. Sometimes it gets more problematic to count the train cars when I am moving at a different speed or in a different direction than the train. Trees and buildings that come between the train and me also make this more difficult. I try not to reduce or increase my speed when I see a car, because I know other drivers would probably get upset with me.

I count cars on the road. Let me be more specific: I count strings of cars. If I pass a whole string of cars, I count them to see how many I am passing. If a bunch of cars, all in a row, pass me, I count to see how many cars are passing me. If there is a string of cars all driving behind one slow car going the opposite direction as me, I count them. For example, there were forty cars sitting at the red light at Lockport and Ward Roads on my way home today. Forty cars! Could you imagine being the 40th car? When that light turned green, there’d be no way you’d make it through before it turned red again.

So why do I count all of these things? It’s an impulse, I’m sure, but really, it’s my mom’s fault. When I would ride in the car with my mom as a kid, we would count the train cars. I’m sure it was just a way to keep me occupied while riding in the car or a way to shut me up for a little while, but obviously it stuck. When I was learning to count steps my mom would count as I climbed each step: “one… two… three…” and so on. The house I grew up in was a raised ranch. Going from the living room down, there was seven steps, then a landing where the front door was, and then another six steps to get to the basement where my bedroom was. Coming in the backdoor, there were eight steps from the backyard or garage to the door. (This came in handy when I would come home late and all the lights were off: Eight steps up, then seven steps down, then a landing, then six more steps to get to my bedroom.) And to this day, obviously, I continue to count things.

I learned at an early age not to count sheep to fall asleep because it doesn’t work. It actually has the reverse effect: How many sheep can I count to? I remember once I stayed up all night counting sheep when I was in junior high. I think there was over a million. So blame my mom. It’s all her fault.

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