obsessive-compulsive disorder is not a joke

Posted by Ed 2 mths ago

WITH MY BRACES and Sun In bleached bangs, I may have looked like every other teenager at my 1980s suburban junior high, but I knew something about me was different. I was thirteen when I first noticed myself acting in ways that resembled obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), though I wouldn’t have known to call it that at the time.
It was the summer before ninth grade, the era of coming-of-age movies like St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club. My girlfriends and I were obsessed with brat pack actors like Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and Rob Lowe. We spent our babysitting money and allowances at the local Red Rooster, buying slushies (half Coke, half cream soda) and magazines.
At sleepovers, we pored over Teen Beat and Bop, spending hours discussing what The Outsiders star Matt Dillon was looking for in a girl or deciding which actor’s shirtless centrefold we would hang in our locker once school started.

We rode our ten-speeds around our suburban Edmonton neighbourhood well past curfew, quizzing one another on the actors’ heights and favourite books. I could never remember my locker combination, but I knew, down to the inch, how tall Rob Lowe was.

We took the number 33 bus to and from West Edmonton Mall to see St. Elmo’s Fire so many times we could essentially recite the whole movie. I imagine the bus driver was relieved when Weird Science came out later that summer: it gave us some new material to act out on the ride home.

I wouldn’t say loving John Hughes characters was obsessive behaviour, exactly—or at least no more obsessive than that of any other teen girl I knew. But I would bet a Judd Nelson glossy eight-by-ten that I was the only girl in my friend group who was both confused and troubled by the need to wake up several times a night to check on the pile of Teen Beats on her bedside table.

My nighttime ritual consisted of making sure none of the magazines’ pages had accidentally folded over or been damaged during my pre-bedtime reading and stacking. I would lift each magazine up, inspect it to make sure it was in perfect shape, and replace it on the pile—which had to be in a certain corner of my nightstand, right between my Cabbage Patch Kids doll and Dr Pepper Lip Smacker.

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