Last week, while I was helping one of my flatmates download music onto her MP3 player, one of our other flatmates popped in. "Do you have a lighter?" she asked in passing. "I'm just cleaning my room and I want to light a couple of scented candles to make it smell a bit better."
"Sure," Flatmate 1 said. "It's around here somewhere."
Flatmate 2 started searching for it, but was unable to unearth it. "Paula, do YOU have one?" she asked.
"Yeah, just give me a minute." I was stalling. At that point I wasn't sure why. I gave it another couple of minutes of pretending the downloading was at an urgent stage and I couldn't leave and then, when it was clear the other lighter wasn't appearing, I reluctantly headed down the hall to my room and retrieved my own.
Flatmate 2 headed off with it and I felt strangely nervous. After a couple of minutes, I said to Flatmate 1 "This is going to sound really weird but I'm worried I'm not going to get my lighter back."
She looked at me like I was a bit of a weirdo and then she started laughing. "Oh my god, that is TOTALLY YOUR THING!" she gasped out between giggles. "You know, like I'm obsessively tidy? You're obsessed with not losing your things to other people."
I realised she was right. The weird thing is, it's not really the bigger things that worry me, like the jewellery or clothes, even the dvds and cds and books. There's certain ones I'm kinda precious about, but quite a few of my belongings are scattered all over Glasgow and its vicinity. I think my sister has about 20 of my dvds and I didn't realise until the last time I was over. I've lent out countless books that have never been returned to me, and I haven't sweated it. It's the ODD things that obsess me.
Take the lighter for example. You would think perhaps, from my paranoia that it wouldn't be returned to me, that I smoke.
"Why do you need it anyway?" Flatmate 1 asked me.
I shrugged. "I might want to light some candles."
"You're not even in your own ROOM right now," she countered, shaking her head at me.
I just think having a lighter is a useful thing to have, okay?
Just like my corkscrew. I went on holiday once and came back to find it on a flatmate's bedroom floor. What if it had gone missing? How would I have drank wine? Would I have to have bought an entire new one? Would I have to drink out of screw top bottles for the rest of my life?
But it's in the office my freaky possession obsession REALLY kicks in.
Remember how upset I was recently when I discovered my gluestick in work had been given away? I probably wouldn't even have noticed if it wasn't for the fact I had managed to papercut my tongue but the point was . . . IT WAS MY GLUESTICK AND I NEEDED IT IN CASES SUCH AS THIS!!!*
Similarly I nearly freaked out inwardly one day last week when I saw one of my colleagues taking my scissors while I was sitting at another desk . . . and then noticed later he hadn't put them back. It had been all I could think about for like AN HOUR, and eventually I tried to ask in a casual voice if he still had my scissors to remind him he'd taken them. I think I missed the "casual" tone by a fairly wide mark.
I had a similar incident with my stapler when another co-worker kept borrowing it - to the point where I actually went and found (stole?) a stapler someone had left lying around and handed it to the colleague in question. "Was my borrowing your stapler annoying you?" he asked, clearly seeing right through me straight away. (To be honest, I think the fact I kept trying to put it out of his reach should have been the first giveaway) "Oh not at all!" I said airily. "I just thought it sucked you didn't have your own stapler." He laughed at that and said "Oh, I have TWO actually, I just can't be bothered going and getting them." (Yes, he DID nearly get lamped.)
I'm not sure why there are certain possessions that I'm more freaked out about losing than others. Any ideas?
FYI, in the end I DID get my lighter back. Flatmate 1 popped in to see Flatmate 2 about something and when she came back she said "No need to panic, I've got your lighter." Ten minutes later, I realised I didn't know where it was and looked about in a panic. "Did you GIVE me my lighter back?" I asked in a faux-casual tone. "It's right next to you Paula," she replied, picking it up and rolling her eyes. Ooops.
Yes, I think I have a problem.
*And no, I wasn't trying to glue the cut on my tongue together!!!