I don’t have OCD, but I’ve had an OCD tendency for as long as I can remember. It has many parts, and it’s evolved over the years, adding rules and preferences as I went along. I do it all day, every single day of my life.
It started long, long ago, when I began “air” typing everything that I said or others said. I don’t use a keyboard or even really move my fingers, besides twitching them slightly. You would probably never notice that I do it, unless you knew to look for it and stared at my hands. If you say something and I hear it, I’ll probably type it out with my fingers on an imaginary QWERTY keyboard. I type conversations I have, songs I hear, movies I watch, billboards I see while driving–pretty much everything.
I remember telling my mom about this when I was a little kid. She actually said that she did it too. I figured it wasn’t that weird if the only person I ever told also did it.
But then things got weirder.
I started counting the letters in each sentence that I typed. I became obsessed with the numbers involved in everything I typed. I soon realized that 4 was The Perfect Number, and everything revolved around it. I wanted to find phrases and sentences where the total number of letters were divisible by 4.
The way that I typed changed. I started to type with a rhythm where I grouped together keystrokes into pairs. The word “happened” would be split into four parts (ha pp en ed), each with a very slight pause in between, which would allow me to more effectively count the letters while I typed.
Since 4 is The Perfect Number, my mind isn’t satisfied until the total number of letters in whatever phrase or sentence I type is divisible by 4. An easy way to make this happen is to just retype it. For example, take this sentence:
Join us at the station
This sentence has 18 letters in it, not including spaces (and I never count spaces). It’s not divisible by 4, but it is divisible by 2. So all I have to do to satisfy my mind is to retype it once.
Join us at the station join us at the station
That group of text is 36 letters, which is divisible by 4, and pretty much the most awesome thing in the world according to my mind.
If the total letters in a sentence is odd, then you’re in trouble. The only way to make an odd-numbered sentence divisible by 4 is to retype it 4 times. That’s time consuming and I don’t like to do it. In general, odd-numbered sentences are The Devil.
Retyping is always a plan B. While it satisfies my mind that what I just typed was divisible by 4, it doesn’t feel like a Pure sentence. What I try to do instead is change around the words in the sentence to mean basically the same thing, but contain a different number of total letters. I constantly look forward in the sentence to see if it’s going to end up divisible by 4 on its own, or if I should modify it. For example, take this sentence:
The cat jumped over the wall
That sentence is The Devil, because the number of letters is odd. I would have to retype it 4 times to get it divisible by 4. But I could type this instead:
That cat jumped over the wall
Ahhhh, isn’t that a nice sentence? I think so, too.
I have various rules and preferences. Some sentences are more Pure than others. Some letters and punctuation I don’t count. Others, like apostrophes, I do count. The explanations for why I do or don’t count certain characters is long, complex, and boring. It’s just part of the system I developed over the years. I stick to it though.
Sometimes, if I have time (I can’t do this in a quick-paced conversation), I’ll do other calculations too. Besides typing a phrase that’s divisible by 4, I’ll count the total number of letters and figure out the average word size. For example, a 5 word sentence with 24 letters is 4.8 letters per word.
I also prefer sentences with larger average word sizes. Eight letter words are awesome, because they’re divisible by 4 and a fairly large word. 12 letter words are the holy grail. Sometimes, to get my average word size up, I’ll type the word
probably over and over. I’m not kidding. For the last fifteen years or so of my life, on a daily basis, I’ve typed something like this in order to raise my daily average word size:
probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably probably
It’s always the word
probably. It’s 8 letters long, which is cool. Plus it alternates fingers and hands pretty nicely, which allows for rapid typing.
Back when I still believed in God and Heaven, I thought that when I died, God would tell me what my average word size was, and if the sum of everything I ever typed was divisible by 4 or not. Once I realized that God didn’t actually exist, one of the saddest parts was realizing that I would never fucking know what my total average word size was. And yet to this day, I still type
probably repeatedly all the time. Gotta get that average up.
I’ll leave you with a lovely sentence that I heard in a song by Withered Hand.
She said, “I used to be beautiful, but now I’m barely pushing plain.”
52 letters total (counting apostrophes, not counting other punctuation), which is divisible by 4. What an awesome sentence.