THESE days, I don’t like to leave the house without dental floss.
This may sound strange – because it is – but it’s a fact nonetheless.
I reckon a man can survive without his phone or, if pushed, without his wallet – but I dread the thought of ever finding myself unable to get that bit of crisp from behind my molar.
It’s not that such unreachable food is just annoying. It’s that it’s so utterly mind-scrapingly irritating it makes my entire head feel like it’s shrinking; like, if I don’t act soon, my whole face is going to be transformed into a piece of pork gristle. Which some people have said would be an improvement – but I try to ignore my gran when she gets chippy.
In any case, for five years now, every meal has been followed by floss.
For sure spending five minutes in the bathroom after every restaurant meal isn’t ideal unless you want people thinking you’ve got a digestive system fast enough to give Usain Bolt a run for his money, but it definitely beats the looks from waiting staff when you attempt to use a menu to attack a particularly determined piece of chicken.
Safe to say, we haven’t been back in Nando’s since.
So, why bring it up?
Mainly, because I remember mentioning this to comedian Jon Richardson a couple of years ago.
I’d found myself interviewing him one day when he had a gig to sell and I had a page to fill. For whatever reason, we started talking about our own strange quirks of behaviour.
He didn’t like walking on cracks. I didn’t like going anywhere without floss.
He refused to throw receipts away. I hated the thought of a shirt hanging inside out.
He briefly wondered if it was a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I said unlikely.
It seemed insensitive to compare disliking food between your pegs to a devastating and debilitating illness.
Then my news editor pointed at her watch, the call was ended and I never really thought about it again.
Until, that is, last week when old Jon is only on Channel Four presenting a documentary about OCD.
I started watching but switched off after 10 minutes.
Seeing the sad stories of a teenager paralysed by his inability to even sit down without doing it a certain way or a hoarder who couldn’t throw things out all felt too voyeuristic.
And, also, too close to home.
Because while I would never underplay the awful effects OCD has on those who suffer its extremes, I recognised just a touch of myself in there.
Those inside out shirts?
She hangs them that way to dry after every wash.
I sit in the living room and just knowing they’re hanging there in the next room like that gnaws at me, like a wasp buzzing at the back of my brain.
It feels like the universe isn’t quite symmetrical.
So, rather than thinking about something else, it’s easier just to spend five minutes putting them the right way round.
Then the buzzing stops.
“Kind of odd,” she smiles.
And she’s right. But then she freaks out at coffee cup stains. And she has a friend who hates seeing her own feet.
So maybe we all have our quirks.
And maybe all you can do about it is put your real or metaphorical floss in your pocket and be thankful you have them under some control.