“MICHAEL!!!” my mother would often shout- seethingly, in growled tones - at my absent-minded father upon finding a singular piece of dirty cutlery in the sink shortly after she’d washed up.
That was her all-time, highest-ranking pet-peeve. Aligning perfectly with the emigrated Asian housewife prototype, she approached matters of kitchen upkeep with the same doggedness as Pauline Hanson’s bid for a white Australia. I was around ten years old; circa year five or something, and at these times I feared significantly for my father’s safety. Then at the peak of her menopausal throes, alongside an inherent obsessive-compulsive, control-freakish psyche, she got me quickly adhering to her Qur’an of meticulous sanitation, tidiness and organisation. I did not fancy any drama, and I was not looking for no trouble. This made accepting my fate very natural, not dissimilar to a cat licking its butthole en route to getting 100% clean.
So witnessing this kind of reprimanding was an illustrative warning that dissuaded any of my own future lapses in household etiquette. It then later acted as a preempting to the formation of my own pedantic obsessions. It was not the isolated fear of my mother howling my name in caps-locks decorated with exclamation points; it was the fifteen minutes of subsequent finger pointing, screeching akin to that of a down-syndrome seagull, and her general psychosis that always, every time, ensued. Her barking at non-compliant family members now resurrects imagery of helpless Jews in 1940’s concentration camps. Sure enough, my own penchants for arranging, organising, re-arranging and re-organising were soon born and ingrained into my daily being. These spawned to encompass a number of outlandish (not at all psychotic) rituals and habits that compromised any trace of my normalcy in any definition of any ‘normal’ society.
Current day, I’m better than I used to be.
My mother recently- with glistening pride- told me that I would be reduced to a confused mess when other children in surgery waiting rooms would fail to properly put toys away in their home boxes. I would quietly, at length, whine to her after their hasty departures. Why were they not thoughtful and considerate like me?
When I was not quite a teenager, I got right into making my own jewellery. My parents invested in many, many beads, with which I fashioned some exquisite pieces. This part was fun and fine and relatively normal. Soon enough though, after building a wild collection, I became really, unhealthily concerned with storing them in small fisherman’s boxes with various compartments to separate the colours. After creative sittings, I could not successfully pack up and put them away without ensuring their impeccable organisation, as per the stringent parameters I had laid out for myself. What’s more, I wouldn’t let my friends in on my beads- they would perpetually fuck with their storage configuration, leaving me wilted and dismayed.
I thought Marcia Brady was the ultimate hot babe for awhile there, and her penchant for hair brushing one hundred strokes per day became mine. Except more intensely. I did two hundred; lending my hair a luscious sheen that guaranteed I was the half-asian version of her, in my own mind.
Sweet baby Jesus, no wonder I was a fucking loner ‘til I turned 15 and discovered boys. I was a real-deal, fun-shunning OCD gaychild. But when the boy receptors surfaced, so too did a tactile decline in the pedantic rituals. I quickly realised that boys care for boobs and flirting, not meticulous bead sectioning and being awkward and bashful. I’m still awkward and sometimes bashful, but I’ve severed ties with the uncool weirdo shit and haven’t owned a hairbrush in some five or six years (told truth! Bed hair denotes ultimate sex kitten, got it down). My mum is also now heaps less of a domestic dragon, so it seemed only proper that I continue to evolve with her.