I’ve always had problems with tearing things apart. I like crumbly things, or stuff that I can pull. I once almost completely destroyed a rocking chair because it was so interesting to pull out all the little circular flakes–I was about five.
Then, when I was seven or eight, I noticed that our driveway was crumbling at the edge. *sheepish grin*
I totally destroyed it, meticulously kicking the little blocks of old tar away from the great waterfall of it that ran down the little hill to the house. I probably took off a good square foot or so off of the edge. It was mortifyingly exciting for a bored child like me. I often read a book while doing it, idly wasting time.
So when I recently saw a photograph of an individual with smallpox, I had two reactions that were deeply linked to my old childhood compulsions: the first one being “oohh, I must make it smooth! I wanna pull it all off!” and the second one being “NO! Disease! Must not touch, stay away!”
My compulsions are specific and contradictory. At this point in time, I have a good grip on them, but they still will harass me when I am faced with images like that of the smallpox patient.
I was hoping there might be some kind of clever conclusion to this story. I suppose I could offer a moral:
Don’t touch smallpox patients. It’s not a good idea. Sometimes, compulsions know what they’re talking about. But not all of them. Sometimes it’s best just not to touch anything.