Recently I have discovered that I have a recognized condition. While I am sad to discover myself in the psychiatric handbook, I guess it’s good to know I’m not alone.
All my life, I’ve given personalities to things. Not just animals, but things. I remember vividly having a crying meltdown when my dad traded our old finned Oldsmobile for his trendy new Pinto. (This came along with sideburns and boots that zipped up the inside, but none of them lasted very long). I felt so guilty as our old car, grey and squat sat amongst the shiny new compacts, looking grim and afraid. I refused to oooh and ahhh over the new car as it was brought around to the front, while Rhinestone Cowboy played over the loudspeaker, for us to take home lest our beloved old ride overhear and feel betrayed.
This came to my mind today when I was putting the silverware away out of the dishwasher and discovered a sterling spoon hiding under the other spoons. The spoon carried such an aura of distain and long suffering superiority that I had to laugh. I swear, when I put “him” back in his felt lined box where he belonged, I heard him exclaiming to all the other upper crust about his harrowing experience with the hoi polloi.
In literature, this is called “personification”. I read a book not long ago where the heroine believed objects picked up parts of the people who used them most. They became familiar to them. In psychiatry, this little quirk is called “anthropomorphic fallacy”. Fallacy doesn’t sound very nice. It makes it seem as if this isn’t true and I might be a little…crazy?
We all do this, to a point. Lots of people name their cars and give them personalities. Stuffed animals are a prime example. To this day, when I see my childhood lovey, I feel the urge to tell him I’m sorry I grew up and that I still love him just as much, deep in my heart, but that a grown woman is whispered about when she drags a dog with no ears and a hole in his neck that bleeds stuffing to a cocktail party.
This problem has caused me to go back and buy ugly things for whom I felt sorry, imagine screams when I’ve divided hosta, keep pilled old blankets because I didn’t want them to feel their times were over. It’s ridiculous, really. The inner voices I give animals are even worse. When I shoo a bee from the car I imagine how scary it is to be dropped off, miles from home, with no hope of ever seeing his family again. When I throw away single socks, I have to screw my lips shut so I won’t apologize to them.
My children were late gettng teeth and loosing them. Cricket was 7 and a half before she lost her first tooth. She is such a drama queen over blood that I had been preparing her for months. When the tooth finally dislodged, in a restaurant, she was all smiles. Then I made the fatal mistake of making up a little song, which I cleverly entitled “Little Tooth”, from the tooth’s perspective. I should have never intimated that the tooth might be sad to leave because it caused such a sobbing fit that she has never fully gotten over it. Sadly, I have passed on my mania to her. There was a big debate when she decided to move up from her pretty single sleigh bed to my teenage antique iron one. What would the old bed think? She had been happy in that bed! Is it any wonder that she so identified with Belle in Beauty and the Beast when she was little? All those talking cups and saucers.
That was when she was little. Cricket has food issues that are beside the point, but recently, at 19, she got a bowl of pasta somewhere and a noodle was awry. Awry meaning it was clinging to the edge of the bowl, still IN the bowl, but could have possibly touched something germy. This made her want to discard it and I saw her debating. When I asked her what the problem was she replied “well, it is this noodle’s sole purpose in life to be eaten and now, I’m just tossing it away”. Dear Lord, I did that to her.
HOWEVER, I alone cannot take the blame here. Last week, I was shopping with my groovy new birth mother and she bought a pepper shaker. She claims to collect individual salt OR pepper shakers, not in sets, just sitting there alone, because she feels sorry for them. And, right there in the middle of Isle C of the antique market, I began to see that insanity might indeed be inherited, and in this way, I might just pass the buck.