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John's World: Blessed are the Neat. I Suppose.

07:00AM Sep 30, 2014

%3Cp%3EI%20have%20never%20been%20described%20as%20neat.%20In%20fact%2C%20I%20would%20struggle%20to%20upgrade%20to%20merely%20messy.%20I%20think%20it%20could%20be%20hereditary.%20While%20my%20family%20members%20were%20not%20slobs%20per%20se%2C%20I%20do%20not%20recall%20excessive%20emphasis%20on%20putting%20things%20away%20or%20using%20a%20fork%20to%20get%20a%20pickle%20out.%20It%26rsquo%3Bs%20a%20comforting%20excuse%2C%20anyway.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0AWhen%20my%20parents%20dropped%20me%20off%20for%20college%2C%20I%20was%20about%20to%20confront%20unexpected%20orderliness%3A%20I%20got%20a%20Neat%20roommate.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0ANot%20neat%20as%20in%20%26ldquo%3Bcool%26rdquo%3B%26mdash%3Bthis%20was%20an%20engineering%20school%2C%20after%20all.%20But%20the%20young%20man%20who%20entered%20the%20dorm%20room%20obviously%20operated%20with%20less%20entropy%20than%20I%20did%20(annual%20physics%20joke).%20Dick%20wasn%26rsquo%3Bt%20uptight%20about%20order.%20In%20fact%2C%20he%20made%20it%20look%20like%20something%20anyone%20could%20do.%20I%20knew%20better%20of%20course%2C%20but%20it%20still%20fascinated%20me%20to%20watch%20him%20being%20Neat.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0AHe%20always%20put%20away%20his%20clothes.%20Every%20time%2C%20all%20the%20time.%20What%20a%20concept!%20While%20he%20never%20mentioned%20my%20compara-tive%20slovenliness%26mdash%3Bindeed%20he%20was%20a%20non-judgmental%20companion%26mdash%3Bsoon%20I%20was%20bothered%20by%20my%20side%20of%20the%20room.%20Not%20enough%20to%20mend%20my%20ways%2C%20of%20course.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0ABut%20the%20memory%20of%20premeditated%20neatness%20that%26nbsp%3Bremains%20after%20all%20these%20decades%20was%20watching%20Dick%20eat%20fruitcake.%20I%20had%20never%20encounter%20fruitcakes%2C%20but%20I%26rsquo%3Bd%20heard%20all%20of%20the%20jokes.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0ADick%20was%20disturbingly%20delighted%20when%20an%20elderly%20aunt%20sent%20him%20one%20around%20the%20holidays.%20Arranging%20a%20paper%20towel%20as%20a%20makeshift%20tablecloth%2C%20he%20carefully%20unwrapped%20the%20glistening%20brick%20and%20precisely%20sliced%20an%20even%20%26frac14%3B%26quot%3B%20off%20one%20end.%20Then%2C%20using%20his%20fingers%20only%2C%20he%20consumed%20the%20piece%20slowly%2C%20gathering%20any%20loose%20crumbs%20until%20he%20deftly%20re-wrapped%20the%20remainder.%20For%20the%20next%20few%20days%2C%20he%20would%20bring%20a%20cup%20of%20what%20we%20thought%20was%20coffee%20to%20our%20room%20and%20repeat%20this%20ritual.%20I%20doubt%20any%20CSI%20team%20could%20prove%20the%20offending%20confection%20was%20ever%20present.%20In%20comparison%2C%20if%20I%20brought%20one%20small%20bag%20of%26nbsp%3Bpotato%20chips%20into%20the%20room%2C%20we%20would%20both%20be%20crunching%20as%20we%20walked%20across%20the%20room%20for%20weeks%20thereafter.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0AThis%20collegiate%20adjustment%20was%20just%20a%20foretaste%20of%20the%20life%20alteration%20required%20on%20our%20wedding%20day%20when%20we%26mdash%3Bin%20the%20words%20of%20poet%20Keats%26mdash%3B%26ldquo%3Bobtain%20our%20permanent%20roommate.%26rdquo%3B%20While%20I%20suppose%20two%20people%20with%20the%20same%20Neatness%20Index%20could%20connect%2C%20in%20my%20experience%2C%20it%20would%20be%20random%20chance.%26nbsp%3B%3C%2Fp%3E%0A%0A%3Cp%3E%3Cstrong%3EWe%20seem%20to%20be%20attracted%20to%20those%20with%20vastly%20different%20neatness%20levels%2C%20with%20each%20combatant%20silently%20thinking%2C%20%26ldquo%3BHow%20can%20they%20live%20like%20that%3F%26rdquo%3B%20%3C%2Fstrong%3EThen%20we%20perversely%20decide%20to%20marry%20them%20just%20to%20find%20out.%20Each%20is%20lovingly%20committed%20to%20gently%20correcting%20the%20other.%20This%20could%20resolve%20into%20a%20compromise%20of%20modest%20orderliness%2C%20but%20it%20seldom%20does.%20%26nbsp%3B%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0AInstead%2C%20zones%20of%20influence%20emerge%3A%20immaculate%20gardens%20and%20whimsically%20cluttered%20machine%20sheds.%20I%20suppose%20it%20could%20be%20swapped%2C%20but%20it%20hurts%20my%20brain%20to%20try%20to%20imagine%20that.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0AMost%20of%20us%20automatically%20assign%20gender%20to%20these%20qualities%2C%20but%20it%20is%20not%20unknown%20for%20a%20kitchen%20with%20no%20open%20countertop%20space%20to%20coexist%20on%20the%20same%20farm%20where%20pristine%20tools%20lay%20nestled%20in%20meticulous%20drawers.%20Mixed%20marriages%20can%20work%2C%20it%20seems%2C%20once%20the%20line%20between%20Chaos%20and%20Order%20is%20clearly%20drawn.%20Think%20of%20North%20and%20South%20Korea.%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0A%3Cbr%20%2F%3E%0ATime%2C%20however%2C%20sides%20with%20the%20Neat.%26nbsp%3BDisorder%20is%20only%20supportable%20if%20your%20memory%20can%20compensate%20for%20your%20randomness.%20The%20day%20will%20come%20when%20you%20no%20longer%20know%20where%20you%20laid%20the%20bolt%20cutters%20a%20week%20ago.%20Moreover%2C%20you%20have%20tossed%20them%20in%20the%20same%20places%20so%20ma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