74. Just Checking – Emily Colas
Guinea pigs and I have several things in common – we cannot produce our own vitamin C, we have hair rather than fur, and we are at our best with a consistent routine. I came to this book hoping for some kind of insight into whether or not my personal tics that have occasionally made me seem a bit too particular in situations where I’m apparently not supposed to be so concerned about whether I sit in the exact same chair every time or the fact that someone put some kind of drizzle all over the plate underneath my sandwich when I specifically ordered a sandwich because I didn’t want to use a fork and there shouldn’t be anything sticky underneath a sandwich for fuck’s sake and now I have to leave because my brain is short circuiting are actually OCD. I have decided that they are not, but not based on this book.
I’m basing my “I don’t have full on OCD” armchair-self-diagnosis mostly on the True Life episode about OCD, that one David Sedaris essay where he wants to lick the light switch and has to rock a certain number of times before he goes to sleep, and a mild viewing of an A&E show that I can’t remember the title of. I’ve decided I just have anxiety, which I do, about many things. Don’t drizzle underneath sandwiches. That seems like it should be obvious unless you’re trying to force someone into a meltdown – why would anyone want anything sticky on their hands from underneath the sandwich?! I have eczema, I do not choose things that will deliberately force me to be sticky. That one nearly caused a public scene, and I had no idea it was coming or would seem as bad as it did in person, so it is stuck in my mental craw forever.
Just Checking for me was not an insightful reading experience. It felt like a slice of life with no purpose, no through line, nothing beyond the robotic reciting of events. The praise on the jacket promised much more, but perhaps those reviewers had the same specific concerns that Colas did. I found her to be a mite on the insufferable side even though I have some similar concerns. Really the whole thing disappointed me, because there are so many dude memoirs where their issues are meant to be funny or relatable, and I “just check” and worry about things all the time, but I couldn’t find any common ground here.