That Bagel and Cream Cheese

I was cutting a bagel the other day to make a sandwich.

Truth is, I don’t eat very much, but I do like a good sandwich when there isn’t any pressure to stay awake. A good sandwich is also nice thing to have before taking a walk. I was going to be doing just that, taking a walk, and happened to be in the process of making what one might call a very high sandwich when I got into trouble, potential relationship purgatory.

To my left was the cream cheese, sliced tomato, sliced mozzarella. I had the option of lox and onion, slab of lettuce, cucumber. I opted to skip the onion and lox in favor of salt and peppering the tomato and cucumber, and I desperately needed that mozzarella, which was definitely kosher, by the way.

But I skipped the lox and the onion because I just didn’t want to need that mandel brot for dessert to clean my palate. You know what I mean?

Anyway, as I was about to top my bagel, meaning put the top of the bagel on top of the half with all the fixings, when someone gave me a very funny look.

A look like, What ARE you doing?

I was a little surprised. “What’s wrong?”

“Well, the bagel. . .”

“The bagel?”

“Well, the bagel goes the other way.” Then he proceeded to point to the proper way, the better way to place the top on top so that it fit the bottom half of the sandwich.

You see, if you have two halves of the SAME bagel, when you put them back together they should look like a bagel that hasn’t been cut. The bagel should look whole.

A whole bagel should look neat.

Except when you build up a sandwich on a bagel, face it, it’s not going to look anything like a WHOLE, NEAT bagel.

Now, the beach was awaiting, friends, and I am a beach-walker and I like the morning sun on the ocean.

So although I’d love to expound on the virtues of having some, but not all of your ducks in a row, or better yet, the pain and dysfunctionality of Obsessive-compulsive disorder, the morning is passing by way. Time waits for no sandwich.

I will, however, leave you with a thought.

This may look like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (not mine, silly). But true Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a serious, debilitating illness. Just like I posted about Bi-polar Disorder and how most of you actually do NOT have it, despite the fact that your hyper-caffeinated, stressful lives and sleepless nights stretch into weeks of difficult days, most people are not bi-polar or even uni-polar, for that matter.

Similarly with OCD. Perfectionists do not all have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

So if you have a friend who doesn’t like the way you make your sandwich, don’t go out of your way to make that person feel uncomfortable.

Don’t call your friend obsessive-compulsive, overly-perfectionistic, or controlling.

It’s not nice and it only gets you into conflict that isn’t necessary.

Smile and say,

Oh, it’s very obvious that you have never TASTED your bagel this way. You see, if you leave some of the cream cheese hanging over the edge deliberately, then when you take that first bite you get more cream cheese.

It tastes a LOT better. You have to try it, seriously.

And be convincing. You’re right, of course.

Copyright 2007 TherapyDoc


Anonymous said…
Oh, I definitely need to try that approach on some people. I know one particular person who will only "eat her bagel" one specific way.
therapydoc said…
If you get this approach you can use it in so MANY situations. It's one of the sublime methods of strategic family therapy, believe it or not, although I've never seen the bagel example in a book. It does require a little thought to get it right, but is fun, no?
Emily said…
People joke that I have OCD because I clean so much. Even I joke about it now. I've been told, since having my second baby, to give cleaning a rest. I try to explain that the process of cleaning and seeing the results of a clean house make me happy, but people think I must be harbouring some deep mental health issue.

I can't help liking the fact that everything has a place and everything should be put away in it. I like ordering drawers and cupboards and lining up shoes.

When I am back at work, I am not so fastidious. Maybe it is my "work" energy that I put into the home when on maternity or the other half of the week I am not working.

All I know is my mother is the same but with higher standards than me. When the sun streams in through her windows, not a speck of dust to be found anywhere!

PS Not fussed about my sandwich layout however!
bjurstrom said…
Dear Doc,
modern foodies (you are now a modern foodie) do this all the time when they tweak a comfort food. The guys that don't like it are still wanting the comfort of the familiar...anyway my real reason for this note is to tell you that we have a wonderful new addition to the family....Noah Edward was born 1/11/07 yesterday...8lbs8ozs.....everyone is doing well. And there will be lots of bagels and cream cheese to celebrate.
Peg said…
I LOVE that approach, and will certainly make use of it in the near future!

Thanks for visiting my blog, and your kind words. Have been on a bit of a hiatus, from a blogosphere perspective, but am jumping back into writing, reading, commenting, etc.

I'm enjoying your blog, as well! As a stepmom myself, I liked your two entries on the Evil Stepmom...Do you run into a lot of blended family issues in your practice?

therapydoc said…
Emily--and anyone else with this issue: Just wantings clean and neat does not make for a disorder. I think that as awareness of one's world grows wider, so does the natural desire for order and cleanliness.

The animal kingdom grooms, too, right, and we have an even wider lens than, say, a monkey.

Cleaning gets disfunctional when one person's need for neatness conflicts with the other person's interests and desires. That's where people get into trouble and need to talk and work it out.

Anyone, certainly me, would love to see your mom's house with that sunlight.
therapydoc said…
Peg, Sure I see LOTS of blended families. There are statistics that nearly half of all "married" families are blended families.
Anonymous said…
Hoarding and cream cheese and germs, oh my! It's been my experience that "normal" people clean because clutter is distracting or unsightly or cramping or what have you, but with OCD it's all about the anxiety and fear. And, see if you can truly get a toilet clean without ever touching a toilet brush or something else that "seems dirty." Talk about self-defeating.
therapydoc said…
No question, OCD is one of the most distressing disorders. It puts the dis into disorder. Thanks, J. Yes, it's about anxiety and is an anxiety disorder.

We'll talk about the difference between the personality and the anxiety disorder another day.
Anonymous said…
Great post! It seems that very often when someone engages in behaviors that don't quite match up with our expectations, we are quick to attach a clinical label to justify our indignation or intolerance....

You give a simple, easy way to avoid the labels -- and the potentially explosive and harmful social situations/interactions that result from namecalling/labeling...

And when we are able to let go of our own "angst" or anger, we are better able to see how the other person responds to our efforts to open up instead of close things down. So much to learn...
therapydoc said…
Thanks Yvette. I don't have a lot of room for anger in my world. It's for sure an allergy.

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