Monday, January 22, 2007

Side of Pathology

Dear Miso Mama,

My least favorite thing about Weight Watchers: fried chicken is not the best idea.

My favorite thing about Weight Watchers: sushi is totally a great idea!

Every Monday night after therapy, I stop for take-out sushi on the way home. It's a delightful little feel-good package: healthy mind, healthy tummy. Tonight the whole neighborhood had the same idea, and my fave little sushi dive was packed in tight. I didn't care; I suspended my crowd claustrophobia and basked in the shared warmth and elegant parade of each symmetrical dish. Because we've been so very learned in our posts of late, I don't feel like an asshole for citing Roland Barthes, whose lovingly obsessive description of tempura in Empire of Signs well captures the sense of awestruck reverence I feel in the presence of sushi being prepared and served. It's at once sculptural and elemental, neatly compartmentalized and free from food's messier habits (like sizzling and oozing, for example).

Tonight, as I was waiting happily for my order, the hostess approached me to tell me, politely and without judgment, that there was something on my jacket. I looked, and sure enough; some kind of white powdery substance was brushed down the left arm of my parka, perhaps construction dust or chalk. I thanked her and went back to my sushi crowd watching. Before I knew it, she was back with a wet towel, offering to wipe me down. I said yes with bemused surprise, but it soon became clear that my consent was only a matter of formality. From the moment she saw the smudge, she was destined to attend to it, lovingly and slowly. She started at my shoulder, and wiped the slippery parka surface with gentle, circular strokes. She was all concentration--only she and the white powder remained. I surrendered my arm to her compulsive need, recognizing it completely and happy to oblige, grateful for the solace of shared pathology. Her dedication was amazing, her ability to shut out the crowd, to ignore the puzzled stares of fellow customers and the annoyed, knowing sighs of her busy co-workers. Minutes passed, then more, as she switched from circles to vertical swipes, then horizontal. Finally she released me, crestfallen, and said "it's not perfect, but oh well." For the obsessive compulsive, this is not a breezy dismissal; it is a gasp of defeat. I give you exhibits A and B:

Such is the tragic and constant failure of OCD, invisible to the naked eye. I promised her that I would wash it thoroughly when I got home, but it clearly brought her little (if any) comfort. In that moment, I would have destroyed the sleeve completely to have saved her the disappointment.

Raising a chopstick to you, my sugar snap pea,


1 comment:

pea in a pod said...

Such a perfect post-therapy story. I am in love with your affection for sushi because I don't think I actually knew you dug sushi so much and yet, of course, you love sushi. It's the perfect compartmentalized food. Really, what is more organized and categorized than sushi? I like sushi for its colors and flair, but the secret OCD in me loves the rows of rolls and the clean, efficient workspace of the sushi chef. Well, whatever. I wish I could say anything about the coat wiper, but I'm lost. It's sweet and alarming and I'm glad it was you she picked to tidy up.