Tuesday, November 17, 2009

anal retentivity by any other name

I read somewhere online that, as a last ditch tactic, a hard drive could be frozen to contract the metal parts with the hope of freeing whatever it was that was preventing the disc from turning. Figuring I was only a few clicks north of the proverbial last ditch, I began preparing for the freeze: static bag, hard drive, freezer, and more storage space of a kind similar to the frozen drive - check. The caveats to the freeze method were that a) it may only work for a short period of time or b) it may never work again due to freezing. With those types of odds, it may not be insanity to at least try turning it on the normal way one last time.

It worked. The definition of insanity stands corrected. Among other things, while quickly downloading all that I could, I found snippets from my old eJournal - travel logs, journal entries and psychological notations of little scientific value, like the proposed article below:

There is a progressively debilitating disease that afflicts hundreds of thousands of people from childhood. Many of its victims will never know that they suffer from it; never is it routinely checked by medical professionals. Its victims' loved ones may suspect the symptoms but can only watch it progress in tacet anguish. It is blind to socio-economic status, ethnicity, geography, environment and upbringing. Compared to smoking, drug abuse and alcoholism, very little is documented about its long-term effects or cure. And, to date, virtually no branch of government allocates funds for its research.

Hello, I'm a recovering anal-retentive.

All too often, a smoothly running project comes to a sudden, unexpected standstill. In ferreting out the cause of the constipated work flow, we find an anal-retentive with an engorged inbox - sitting at an organized desk, casually sipping coffee maintained at the optimum drinking temperature via a thermostatically controlled cup warmer while mindfully cross-referencing multi-colored tabs to a computerized database of standard office labeling procedures. If we were to approach the anal-retentive with a question of why bother with such inconsequential details when more urgent issues are at hand, invariably we will get a quizzical look. If we were to scoff at the anal-retentive and proclaim that he or she is an anal-retentive, invariably we will get an adamant denial. They will protest that they couldn’t possibly be anal-retentive, as they know of at least one other person that truly is – and they’re nothing like them.

The mention of Freud or even the late Phil Hartman’s Saturday Night Live anal-retentive series will draw the same blank look. Perhaps, at best, an almost imperceptible pause of recognition may cross the anal-retentive’s stream of consciousness but denial’s roots are strong. And, the phrase “anal-retentive” sounds too heinous a label for one’s own character - why, anal-retentivity is in the same category as murderers and fornicators.

At such times, when the impasse in conversation only exacerbates unproductivity, one would wish for an irrefutable basis of judgment - an impartial, third-party arbiter that establishes anal-retentivity beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the courts would be little amused by a case of intentional infliction of anal-retention and the talk shows would bare too much to too many. Then again, those who subject themselves to talk shows thrive on humiliation.

One practical solution lies in a discrete, written examination. Truly, no one else has to know, except maybe the proctor (not to be confused with the proctologist) and the vote will be cast by the anal-retentive’s own hand. The quiz will be cleverly disguised as an examination of intellect instead of anal-retentivity, such that all candidates will eagerly attack the questions or problems in earnest. Imagine the possibilities – potential employers, business partners, boyfriends, girlfriends and fiancĂ©es can all benefit by administering the examination before relationships are consummated and too much damage is done!

It looks like I spent too much time formatting and re-formatting the examination itself (image clip above) to look official and never actually finished it; only 4 out of 10 potential questions. So much for recovery...

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