I blamed the OCD. That tiny malformation of genetics, passed gladly and unknowingly through generations, finally reaching its crescendo in the bloodstream of the twenty first century. It was the same type of gene that made me enjoy wearing little hats and shoes with cats on them. The anti-social gene. It had to be the fault of something. I blamed the OCD.
I checked the front door was locked and went upstairs into my room. I checked that I had set the alarm on my phone, and the alarm on my alarm clock for three minutes later… I always set them the same way. I didn’t want to be late for work, afterall. Then I lay down in bed and closed my eyes… and slowly… ever so slowly… drifted off to… had I checked the front door?!
Heart pounding I went downstairs to check. It was definitely locked. I went back upstairs. While I was there I checked my two alarms again, just in case. Then I went back to bed.
But did I lock the door, or did I just think I locked the door? Did I unlock it accidentally when I just went to check that I’d locked it, having already locked it the first time? I went downstairs to check again. No, still locked. Definitely still locked. Upstairs. The alarms. Still set. To bed. This time I knew for certain that everything was just fine.
But then Paranoia arrived on his mighty steed. He always arrives before Sleep… Sleep always gets stuck in traffic.
Did you set the alarm?
‘Yes, I set both of them.’
Did you actually set them though?
‘Yes, look… I’ve just checked again. They’re set. They’re both set.’
But… did you just accidentally turn them off when you checked them?
‘I don’t think so… I’ll just check. No, they’re both set.’
But did you just accidentally turn them off that time?
‘I’m pretty sure I didn’t, but just to be sure, I’ll just check again.’
Oh, so they’re set then?
‘Yes. I just did them.’
… what about the front door?
Leaping out of bed, I raced down the stairs, but my hand stopped short of the door handle. This was madness. Oh, confounded obsession! The door was obviously going to be locked. My brain was just melting. I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to check the door. I backed away, my hand still outstretched towards the door… just be normal… do something normal… normal, normal, normal. Because going up the stairs backwards was normal. Panicking slightly at my momentary insanity, my mind reversed to my time in therapy: ‘Just do something else instead’. It was designed to take my mind off it. To ease the urge. Just do something else. It was the kind of thing murderers got told too: ‘Just do something else instead’. It was so obvious, so simple, so… universally nonchalant. It couldn’t possibly fail.
I tried going imaginary fishing. But it was dark and I never caught anything. I still wanted to check.
I tried drawing cartoon pictures of an octopus wearing a hat and going to the shops. But his hat fell off and it made me sad. I still wanted to check.
I tried eating 14 bags of Skittles to see if I could really taste the rainbow. But I just ended up vomiting in one of my shoes. I still wanted to check.
So then I tried cutting off my own head with a fork. Finally, something was working! I was laughing maniacally at my genius until I cut through my throat… then I only made some splurging noises. But finally, the urge had been resisted! The insanity had ended! I didn’t want to check anymore!
But I did need a doctor. Probably should have left the door open.