When people first get to know me they think I’m funny with all my whacky quirks. ‘Oh that’s just Nikki. She’s crazy,’ they say. But those that know me really well (like sharing a house with me) are beginning to feel uneasy and wonder if my quirks aren’t a tad more serious…or whether I’m just a jerk. My list of pet hates is growing so fast and furiously that I am starting to question that myself. When did they go from being silly-little-things-that-bother me to out and out melt-down-phobias that leave me hyperventilating?
I suspect I am harbouring ‘obsessive-compulsive’ tendencies that are trying to leak out wherever they can. I’ve kept a lid on them for years, being able to pass them off as quirks, but I don’t think I’m fooling anyone anymore.
I have always moved seats in the cinema if anyone was eating chips or popcorn near me. I mean, I really hate listening to someone eating crunchy shit when I’m trying to concentrate. Now though, I can’t stand the sound of anyone crunching anything, ever, anywhere. Not toast. Carrots. Not chips. Not crackers. I remember being ten and paying my little sister my pocket money not to eat apples in the car on long trips. She made a small fortune. This crunching thing has been around for a long time. Not just an acquired pet hate perhaps, but a full-blown genetic hard-wired aversion to the sound. I am beginning to fantasize about always eating alone in my room like a deranged Miss Havisham.
Mess in the house is beginning to enrage me, rather than merely annoy. The noise of a teenager watching late night television while I try to sleep, is like a cricket that has wedged itself into my ear and begun a high-pitched-humming rap. Shop assistants who are devoid of personality piss me off. Sand between my toes is great on the beach but I’ve taken to tipping a bottle of water over them as soon as I’m on the grass before putting my shoes back on. I can’t sleep in socks without feeling claustrophobic. Towels hanging over doorways infuriate me and people who leave the empty toilet roll on the holder should be shot.
Am I becoming a cranky old bitch or are my standards of comfort simply demanding to be met after years of being ignored. I’ve cleaned up after children for twenty-five years. Is it too much to ask that my clean palette remains clean for more than five minutes? Is that unreasonable? All I want in my old age is a nice tidy house that I can look around at smugly and say….’Nice…done…nothing left to do.’ And then I could curl up and read a book. Nobody crunching mouthfuls of biscuits anywhere near me. Peace.
Yes, I am quirky. I’d sooner do myself an internal injury than use a public toilet. I feel like slapping people who chew gum and I’ve become a born-again non-smoker who now frowns and tut-tuts at youngsters lighting up. ‘You’ll die from that sonny-Jim,’ I want to say in my finest Mrs McGillicuddy voice.
Age, I think, should bring some creature comforts. I’m beginning to understand why old folk come across as crotchety old pains. Because I'm becoming one.