The Devil and Everything Else (More OCD Fragments)

by Matt B. on March 7, 2015


I walk underneath the strung lights, dribbling and skipping on my mouth trumpet. (You haven’t not heard of it; I just make trumpet sounds with my mouth.) A little cluster of folks, kibitzing. My voice dips, but I refuse its quavering – full steam! My arm spasms; the nervousness has to go somewhere.

This doesn’t help. Nothing will, not until I get it out of there. So I’ll put it here.


Reading Updike, I’m sure that if I put the book down and reach for my notebook, words will tumble and flow forth like a tapped spring. The miracle isn’t his way with words, isn’t the way he channels the torrent – it’s that he’s chosen to tap it at all. Do I believe we all could? Yes – if only we insisted on precision. If only we remained dissatisfied until we found the words that we needed.

The world doesn’t offer such honesty. I walk about in a sea of myths and misrepresentations – politicians’ rhetoric, advertisers’ cant, ministers’ confusion. I want to know what it’s like for you.


It’s weird how important it is for me to finish reading books (or writing essays, or having sex…) There is a brief repose, and then – the goal met – a new one slides into place. Click.


I want a glass of milk, but not enough to get up and get it. What’s within reach? What’s reach?

I decide I’ll piss when I get to page 160. Otherwise, it’ll just be piss piss piss and no stopping it.


The way something enters my consciousness – in the corner, barely noticeable – then swells slowly. Always something, and no such thing as space.


Walking to the bookstore: Will they have the book I want? What about the other one, at the bargain rack across the street? When I cross the street, should I take my eyeglasses off? Put on shades? Nah, you don’t need ‘em – it’ll just be quick. But where is the damn thing? Should I put my glasses back on? There it is – to the checkout. Wallet’s in my backpack – there, put it down slowly; don’t risk those fingers. Lean, lean, careful…wait! Did my teeth mash into the counter?

I don’t snap, exactly, but the mercury crosses some invisible threshold, and a walking coma sets in. My body tries to shut itself down; I’d give anything to lay flat. The cashier offers me my change. Words come slowly, dumbly, as if I’ve just woken up.

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