Johnny Poopoopants. Oh shit. Now they’re taking turns…

I call him Rainman. Not because he resembles Dustin Hoffman – he does not – but because he likes his life to go according to certain schedules, and the thought that they might not makes him jittery. “Coffee gets made at 8. Definitely at 8. And then I drink a cup every half hour. One every half hour. Out of my Harry Potter mug. Not a little mug. The big one.” I can practically see him rocking back and forth. It’s not that he’s wedded to his schedule, really. Sometimes he’ll get a hankering to get out of the house into the bright and sunny day, and he’ll jump up and proclaim that he must get out, and suggest that we go somewhere we’ve never been before. One night we discussed his preference to have things done a certain way at a certain time. We laughed about it before he kissed me seven times (slight exaggeration) and then toddled off to his room at exactly 9:41 (another slight exaggeration), where he snuggled under his sheets with his pillows arranged just so. Before he left, he pointed out again that it wasn’t that he HAD to have things done according to schedule, but rather that he simply liked it that way. “It’s not like I have OCD!” he pointed out before walking out the door. He walked back and turned the light on and off 25 times, and then left for real. (I’m kidding. He didn’t do that with the light.) The next morning I was working out, and he came to kiss me before he left. I looked down at his feet. “Oh,” I said with surprise. “You wear sneakers to work? I didn’t realize that.” “Only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” he said. “Definitely Friday.” “Why only those days?” “Because it would be slobby to wear them every day, and I don’t want our customers to think I always wear them.” The next day – Thursday – he waited for me to join him in the garage. We were going to feed the cats at the pet store. “You’re wearing sneakers,” I said. “But it’s Thursday!” “It’s okay for me to wear sneakers on cat day.” Clearly he carries around in his brain an intricate set of rules only he can truly keep up with. I tease him about his Rainman ways, and the other night when I asked him a question and he responded with “Definitely the cats”, I almost swallowed my gum, I was laughing so hard. But secretly – don’t tell him – I like his Rainman ways. It’s weirdly comforting to wake up on a Saturday morning, smell coffee brewing, and know that it must be after 8.
Sometimes, I think he has Tourette’s. One day last year, after he’d had his surgery, he felt the need to get out of the house and go for a drive. We were driving down the road, he in the passenger’s seat, when he yawned. As he yawned, he made a very loud yawny-type noise, of such a pitch and magnitude that my right eardrum shattered and ear-goo dripped onto my shoulder. “GodDAMN!” I said. “Do you MIND?” “Oh!” he said, realizing what he’d done. He giggled a little and apologized. Not a month later, we were in the car again going out to dinner, the spud sitting in the back seat. He listens to the Oldies station, and a song he particularly liked came on. He turned up the volume and sang along. At some point, overcome by his love for the song, he lifted up his hands and clapped them together, making a loud, sharp sound that pierced my eardrum. “GodDAMN!” I said, holding my hand over my ear. “Do you MIND?” Once again he giggled and apologized. Since then, he has become a master fidgeter. Every evening after dinner we sit at our respective computers until 7. He tends to be the white noise in the background, and almost every night he does something to pierce that white noise shroud, and I will realize that he’s been sitting there tapping or pounding on his desk just as hard as he can, and I turn around to stare at him. “GodDAMN!” I always say. “Do you MIND?” The scary thing is that it’s never deliberate – he doesn’t intend to burst my eardrums or get on my nerves, he just has to fidget. The loss of 175 pounds from his body has apparently made him a more active guy; I didn’t know he was going to turn into Matthew Lesko. When we’re laying in bed at night, in the pauses between one conversation and another, when there’s nothing to occupy his mind, he will begin tapping a tune on the headboard. And it gets louder and louder and louder until the entire bed is shaking and practically boogeying across the floor. I think you know what I say at that point. Along with the annoying fidgets there’s something I refer to as a verbal fidget. When singing along to a song, he will insert a certain phrase at a point in the song where there’s a bit of a pause. For instance, he likes the song Sweet Pea, sung by Tommy Roe. One line of the chorus goes “Oh Sweet Pea, come on and dance with me”. Fred will sing along with it, and in the brief pause between “Pea” and “come”, he inserts the words “motherfucker say”. I have no idea what it comes from, but it never fails to crack me up.