Anytime I’m supposed to go on a date that’s happening more than a day after I’ve planned it, I get irrationally nervous. I know most people get nervous, and that’s normal. I, as I said, however, get irrationally nervous, and this implies abnormality. This exaggerated nervousness began around age thirteen, anytime I dreaded going to whoever’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah party was coming up that weekend. I was not very popular, nor was I a good dancer. If you’re not a good dancer within the company of thirteen year old kids, you are a terrible dancer. That’s not why I got nervous, though. In fact, I can’t really explain why. I guess it was fear of being in an unknown social environment. This is despite the fact that every party featured the exact same thirty kids. To me, the environment was far from unknown.
Since that time, I have gradually developed a rather severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Its manifestations are complicated, and it would be incredibly boring if I tried to explain them here. But, basically, I obsess. I obsess over the fact that I left my cell phone at home. I obsess over the fact that I didn’t swipe deodorant under each arm exactly four times. I obsess over the fact that I woke up at exactly 9:21 a.m., which is an extremely unlucky number. See how those examples get progressively crazier, and therefore seem to correlates to how the disorder has regressed over the last thirteen years.
When I have an upcoming date in, say, four days I go nuts. The first day, which we’ll call Monday, I completely forget how to talk to people. I practice on my friends. I call a female friend and go through the ‘hi…bye’ routine. That is exactly how it sounds. Seriously, I have to remind myself to say ‘hi’ when greeting somebody. On Monday, I’m a blank slate. And so, by Wednesday, I have worked myself into a frenzy. My heart paces fast, and I can’t focus at work. I go to the bathroom every five minutes and just pace around in the stall (which is logistically difficult). By the time the actual date rolls around, I’ve already assumed the absolute worst. This often works, as the absolute worst never happens.