I wanted to share a little snippet about contamination OCD as long as this is on my mind. I offended someone yesterday, which is why I’m thinking about it.
I have a thing about food. This is probably one of my more obnoxious OCD things. I have no trust for the food inside of a refrigerator. I won’t even open them 90% of the time. If I’m going to eat food, it basically has to be served to me. Even when I do open the fridge, it is only to grab out my soy milk, which I go through fast enough to avoid spoilage, or a carrot. I’ll avoid touching anything else in there.
I eat leftovers. But they have to be within three days of creation. I’m more lenient with soy milk – I’ll let them go past their expiration dates so long as I don’t see any chunks. But the “bottom” of anything grosses me out. I’m very anxious when I eat jam at the bottom of the jar, even if I just purchased it a month ago and the expiration date is a year forward.
It’s pretty amazing if I serve myself food from a fridge. But I get anxious about being served food from a fridge, too, if I don’t personally recall when the food was purchased or created. Like I said, it really has to be within the three days.
So yesterday I was served some leftover rice from the fridge. I can’t remember when the last time rice was made, so the conversation went about like this:
Me: “How old is that?” (in hindsight, that probably could have been worded more gently)
You: “What do you mean, how old is that?”
Me: “I just can’t remember when we had rice, that’s all.”
You: “Do you think I’d SERVE you spoiled rice???”
Me: “It’s nothing personal. It’s an OCD thing. I have to ask.” (I think I warned you about how I’d always ask this when I first started living here)
You: “That’s bullshit” (you don’t accept psych speak) “It’s 2 days old. Do you think I’d have spoiled rice in my fridge?” (Well, actually I’ve thrown away some moldy stuff from there before, so technically…)
[Pause for a couple of minutes]
Me: “You’re going to get so mad at me.”
You: “Huh? Why?”
Me: “Because I’ll always ask this. It’s going to get super annoying.”
You: “No, I won’t get mad at you.”
But uh, yes, yes you will. It’s been six months of having me ask you this question about food at least 3 or 4 times a week, and it annoyed the hell out of you last night. So project six more months down the road…? Oh well.
Bugged the hell out of my ex husband, too, let me tell you. Because I pretty much won’t stop worrying about the food until I’ve seen you actually LOOK at it closely and/or SNIFF it closely. And even taste it, preferably.
I think part of the problem is that, contrary to what many people have tried to convince me of over the years, I CAN’T always tell myself when something has gone bad. I’ve eaten bad things before. I typically don’t smell when something is ‘off’ and I can’t tell by sight unless there is visible mold. I even made my mom a birthday cake and an entire batch of birthday cupcakes with rancid peanut oil (I couldn’t find the vegetable oil…) but I didn’t know the oil was bad. Everything had to be thrown away because it was so rancid and had stunk up the whole house. But I hadn’t noticed the oil was bad myself. That was in high school.
Oh, and I also won’t touch food if it sat out for more than four hours. Which really freaking annoys some people.
If something does go moldy in the fridge, then I feel like all foods must be washed again, because I feel like the spores have blown throughout the fridge.
I’ll branch out here a tiny bit and tell you also that I have a killer time touching raw eggs (shells too) and raw meat. I basically don’t even try to cook anymore. I have trouble placing my hands into dish water that contains a plate with raw meat juices or anything (even if it’s soapy). But, you know, I have compromised skin on my hands. I frequently have eczema there and I can imagine the little bacteria or whatever getting into my skin cracks and taking up residency in my body… Anyway.