As we cough and sneeze through another winter’s flu season, I find myself realizing today that I, too, am sick. I’ve fallen prey to an epidemic that has haunted the inhabitants of New York City for decades. Once thought to be myth, this sickness was suppressed, believed by some to only affect those of the Jewish faith. But after being exposed to the main stream by social advocate Woody Allen, thousands, Jew and Gentile alike, realized that they too were affected. Allen’s coming out as positive brought many more to find themselves comfortable with their sickness, no longer hiding the fact that they never, ever touch the poles in the subway. That they come in to work early to wipe down their office phone with Clorox wipes when no one will see. That they will hold it a little longer, rather than use the Papaya Dog bathroom after twelve middle-schoolers. We are at a time in this country when all of us affected can finally say, in one uneasy, mumbled cry, “I have OCD flu.”
Have you ever wondered how often the handles of the shopping baskets at the Target in the Atlantic Terminal are cleaned? Probably not. But some of us do. And some of us would appreciate it if Target did clean the handles of their baskets, and tell us how often they do it. And some of us might want to email firstname.lastname@example.org and suggest that they clean said handles, and if they are already doing that then Thanks! could you tell me how often tho?? Some of us would rather just hold a DiGiorno pizza, cat food, tooth paste, and pack of white v-neck t-shirts in our arms instead of using those filthy baskets. And some of us might drop that DiGiorno pizza, cat food, toothpaste, and pack of white v-neck t-shirts on the ground because it is too much to carry. And by the way, how dirty is the floor in Target? Very, is my guess. And some of us will sometimes kick a soiled DiGiorno pizza, cat food, toothpaste and pack of white v-neck t-shirts under a display of Easter candy, and go get new items that haven’t yet been in a basket or on the floor.
This is a disease.
We fight every day to stay sane. To move forward. To bring OCD flu out in the open, where others might one day say, “you’re right. Stray cats are filthy. I’d like to pet them, but at what cost?”
Maybe the spread of OCD flu is actually a good thing. Maybe when more people are affected, things can change. And be cleaned more often. With signage that indicates how often. And maybe one day all of us will use the boiling water from making pasta to sanitize our dish sponge. You haven’t heard how filthy dish sponges are? I have a Huffington Post article you should read. I need to find who posted it on Facebook, then I’ll send it to you. What’s your email again? Ei, or ie in Bernstein? I can never remember.
Or maybe OCD flu needs to stop spreading, and needs to be vanquished from those affected. Maybe we should learn to be OK with the Target shopping basket handles of the world. Stop thinking about where the Halal guy’s cart goes at night and what he’s bringing back here that’s now on my lamb over rice with white sauce, and instead think of more useful things, like does Kanye ever go to Brooklyn Nets games with Jay-Z and make eye contact with Kris Humphries?
This is a sickness. But as a society, we are making progress. Newly diagnosed can be seen all over the city with little plastic bottles of Purel hanging off their bags. We’re out in the open now. And that’s at least one less thing to think about.