GC and I went to Haveli’s in the market for the all-you-can-eat Indian lunch buffet a couple of weeks ago. Before eating, I paid a visit to the washroom, where I encountered a woman washing her hands. She appeared to be doing a very thorough job, and was in fact still washing her hands after I’d left the room.
Out of curiosity, I kept an eye on the door to the washrooms, to see how much longer she’d be down there. She didn’t emerge until after GC and I had filled our plates and begun eating.
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder,” I said to GC.
It was our lucky people-watching day. She joined her husband, who happened to be sitting at the table next to ours. She wiped her cutlery carefully with her napkin, and began to eat. They ate in silence, as if they’d been together a very long time out of sheer force of habit but had nothing left to say to one another.
I wondered what it must be like for him, living with a woman with OCD. I guessed he was used to it by now.
And then, just as I was thinking that, he took a little bottle of Purell out of his shirt pocket, squirted some into his palm, and meticulously sanitized his hands.
He repeated this procedure three times during the meal. Meanwhile, his wife made another trip down to the basement to scrub her hands.
There are some disorders where two people with the same disorder would repel one another – for example, a relationship between two narcissists would never work out. Even people with two different forms of OCD might be incompatible. A hoarder and a neat freak, for example, would be locked in a never-ending battle of compulsions.
But two compulsive hand-washers, on the other hand, would be completely compatible in this one unusual way.