Watch out for Upcoming Neat Freak

What it means to be orderly.

Being orderly, according to Wikipedia, is a desire for cleanliness, diligence, and symmetry. Symmetry is a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportions and balance.

I am comforted by the orderliness and calm of my apartment expressed by its uncluttered surfaces and empty spaces. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful art, handsome furniture, and lovely articles accumulated during past visits to many places worldwide.

And, yes, as time goes on, I can see that I might even have some association with OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder if my desire for orderliness were to becomes excessive. The other side of this coin, disorderliness, can be a tendency to hoard things, which can become compulsive, too.

I am, if categorized, an excessive thrower-outer. I love to rid myself, particularly of excess clothing. So I invented a rule: If I haven’t worn a particular item for three seasons, out it goes unless it has something special about it. I don’t, therefore, think I have a hoarding problem.

I certainly didn’t start this way. As a young teenager, my mother despaired that I left my clothing all over the floor surrounding my bed. So, one day she decided to “not let me get away with that”, picked up my garments from the floor, and dumped them right on top of my bed, including my pillow.

As I came into the room to slide into my comfy bed, she was standing next to it, arms folded across her chest, with a self-satisfied look on her face, as if she were about to ask, “Let’s see what you do now, young lady?”

Here’s what I did. I found the edge of the blanket and climbed into the slot I created under the array of clothing. As I looked up, I grinned, and mom looked surprised, but couldn’t help smiling back.

My children also were particularly messy. Each day, they tried on several outfits before selecting what they were going to wear. The clothing they didn’t select was left on the floor or placed, occasionally, into the clothes hamper. I realized that the tons of laundry I did each day consisted of primarily clean clothing- the discards.

Each of my kids was fortunate enough to have his own room. Their rooms had wood floors. So, the middle kid, a son, apparently wanted his room to look neat. So, he opened his double-door closet, and with his best soccer kick, punted his clothing along the slippery wooden floor into the closet. Then he closed the doors, and the room did look neat.

I was unaware of this maneuvering until I noticed his clothing was missing from the laundry one day. So, I opened the doors of his closet, and there it was. The wardrobe was bursting with piles of unworn clothing mounded up.

If you have kids, you know it becomes a sort of power game of who will get the better of the other. So, the next step was to carpet his bedroom, so no more access to slippery floors. We thought this would block his soccer kicks.

Well, it did that, but now, all the unworn and daily clothing was left on the floor exactly where it fell. It got so bad that we could no longer see any new carpeting because every inch of it had vanished under the clothing droppings.

We had lost this power war but retaliated by keeping his door closed at all times. But, interesting to note, he is now orderly, almost to a fault. The two other kids, now grown, of course, are neat enough.

We probably all remember Oscar Madison and Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, those TV characters whose entire shows were about neatness. So, this quality must have great significance in people’s lives.

On the scale of a slob to a germaphobe, where are you? If your spot works for you, great. If not, work on making tiny changes. Expecting a complete reversal is futile.

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