Control Freaks! Lend me your anecdotes!
October 17, 2006 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone got any examples or anecdotes about being a control freak for a writing project I'm working on? Maybe you know one, or are one yourself...I'm looking for unusual or funny examples of control freakery. Workplace examples particularly useful...
posted by Mrs.Doyle to Human Relations (40 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if this helps, but my Grandmother used to come over to our house and demand that we rearrange the livingroom furniture. Rather than argue, my parents would do it, then move it back when she was gone. She also would alphabetize our spice rack, unasked, and go through our private stuff to the point that my mom made an arrangement with our neighbors to keep private things (journals, prescriptions, etc) in a bag at the neighbor's house for the extended stay.

Many year ago, when my parents were living together "in sin" before they married, my grandmother bribed the superintendant of their apartment building to let her in while my parents were out. She rearranged the furniture herself. Then she went through my mom's underwear drawer, found the birth control pills, and set them out in the middle of the dining room table. THen she sat in the dark, waiting for them to come home. She said it was to conserve electricity, but I think she did it for the effect.
posted by np312 at 7:59 AM on October 17, 2006 [4 favorites]

I had a boss once who re-wrote any materials (teaching materials) his staff wrote. He once told me that it only took him half an hour per page to "correct" my writing, which meant I was much better than the other employees. He was in the office from 9am till gone midnight in the weeks running up to the printing deadline.

The same boss used to insert things into meeting minutes ("all staff were pleased with this decision" for example, took the place of an account of a lengthy discussion).

He was also not averse to phoning staff at home in order to confirm arrangements for teaching cover or just to check details for lecture handouts - I think the latest I got called was 10.30 one night, which really didn't go down well with my housemate.

One christmas, the team (6 people) went to a restaurant as a team-building exercise. Between us we easily got through more than 6 bottles of wine. When X stated he intended to drive home, the 5 junior staff challenged him on this. He argued and argued the point, eventually taking the line that the smokers were being more irresponsible in smoking in front of non-smokers (and damaging their health) than he was being in driving after a few glasses (a bottle) of wine. After all, at 2am, after he had been back to his office to do some work, the streets would be virtually empty. We left the restaurant/bar around middnight, unsure as to whether X intended to drive home or not. The next morning, we got in (at 9am) to discover a five or six page email he had written overnight defending his position and attacking smokers.
posted by handee at 8:08 AM on October 17, 2006

Well, there's always my favorite joke:

Person A: "Knock knock"
Person B: "Who's there?"
Person A: "Control freak. OK, now you say 'control freak who?'"
posted by rossination at 8:22 AM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

My boss once made me go back through a document and add an extra space after every period.
posted by MarkAnd at 8:33 AM on October 17, 2006

My boss once made me go back through a document and add an extra space after every period.

Too funny. My boss is a former teacher and does this without thinking. I can't stand it.

> A former group leader used to come in on the weekends and reverse all program changes she had reluctantly agreed but didn't really like.

> I have control tendencies, but I produce a radio show and quality is of utmost importance. I would say the hardest thing I deal with is when I am unable to attend to studio control and we are unable to reach a guest. It's very frustrating.
posted by parmanparman at 8:40 AM on October 17, 2006

My boss once made me go back through a document and add an extra space after every period.

I do this daily. Of course, I work in print publishing where it conceivably matters.

Once, an editor wouldn't release his final okay on a book for 6 months, nitpicking the text of an *annual* publication.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:44 AM on October 17, 2006

I worked alone in a small (approx. 5 feet by 7 feet) windowless office.The office had one light fixture with two bulbs in it.

My boss was a control freak.

One day she marched into my office and announced, "This room is too bright." I said, "Well, I'm the only one in here all day, and I find it to be just right." She said, "No, it's too bright," then climbed onto a chair, reached into the fixture and removed one of the light bulbs. "I'll keep this in my office so you can't put it back," she said, and left with the bulb.
posted by holyrood at 9:01 AM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

I'd just started my first proper job after graduating, and I had to e-mail someone very important in another organisation. Being an eager dutiful young graduate I asked my boss if he could check the (long) e-mail over just in case I'd touched on any sensitive issues without knowing. He spent half an hour reading a printout with a red biro hovering over the page ready to make any corrections. When it came back, the only change made was to swap the phrase "I have just started at [organisation] and work with [boss]" to "I have just started at [organisation] and work for [boss]".
posted by greycap at 9:14 AM on October 17, 2006

This isn't work related.

We once had a babysitter who, while we were out, rearranged all our shoes. We noticed as soon as we got in the door. Odd, but nothing to make a big deal out of.

The next day we realized she had rearranged all the books over several shelves in the living room. That freaked us out. We never called her back.
posted by GuyZero at 9:28 AM on October 17, 2006

I work at a historical society. It's all volunteer, so it's mostly 80 year olds with no training, including the 'curator'. I'm 26 and have an MA in an appropriate field. They won't let me throw anything out if they remember - or think they remember - who gave it to them. This means pretty much everything.

Two weeks ago, we found a mounted fish. It's in horrible shape - fins missing, years of dust and grime, no number and we can't find it listed in the collection books - so I and one of the other volunteers started to smuggle it out into the trash.

The curator caught us and put it back on the shelf. Last week I come in and the fish is sitting there with a note that says 'assign this a number'.

I wrote 'NO'. Big heavy marker 'NO'.

The fish is still on a shelf, with no number.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:56 AM on October 17, 2006

Ah yes, the Not Throw Anything Away control freak. My Mom was trying to clean out the small building where her church houses their Sunday School, in an attempt to make things nicer. Another woman at the church followed her around, telling her not to throw anything away and actually pulling stuff like old rusty baby spoons out of the trash.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:12 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I confess to being something of a control freak at times, but I'm a very peculiar, passive-aggressive control freak. I can keep a desktop organized and tidy right up to the instant at which someone else puts something on it. At that moment, I conclude that I have lost all control over the desk, and never clean it again.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:17 AM on October 17, 2006

One christmas, the team (6 people) went to a restaurant as a team-building exercise.

This is the scariest thing in this thread so far. Who goes to restaurants as a teambuilding exercise? What do you do there that is team building?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:28 AM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: Two controlling bosses:

1. A sales manager who would stare at me as I was speaking to customers on the phone and wave frantically, trying to alert me with gestures and pantomime to say different things. Sometimes he would scribble down "key points" and shove them under my nose when I was trying to take down the orders.

2. Once when I was a copyeditor, the chief CE brought over a copyright page to show me an error I'd missed. This was perfectly all right; but then I wanted to make a copy of the page to stick it on my wall to remind me. He wouldn't let me. What an asshat.
posted by scratch at 10:30 AM on October 17, 2006

In college, my wife had a roommate that would reorganize her closet when she left for a weekend. During the year they lived together it happened 4 or 5 times.
posted by cebailey at 10:37 AM on October 17, 2006

(edit: the roommate would reorganize MY WIFE's closet, not her own.)
posted by cebailey at 10:38 AM on October 17, 2006

A long time ago, I was the admin assistant to an art museum curator; she was an intelligent, interesting person, but had some weird control freak tendencies. Ferinstance, she insisted that I keep a pile of note cards with different locations written on them ("bathroom," "lunch," "up in the galleries," "copy room," etc) and leave the relevant one on my chair whenever I wasn't sitting there. And I was supposed to do this even if she wasn't in the office, just in case someone stopped by and was curious.
posted by COBRA! at 11:34 AM on October 17, 2006

When I was a kid, every time my parents took me into a drugstore, I had to "fix" the candy/gum counter beneath the registers. While they were waiting for a prescription or whatever, I had to sort the candy into the correct bins and align all the wrappers. All the different kinds of candy had to be separated, and all the packages had to be in a perfect line, facing the same way, with the same side of the wrapper visible.

Then I grew up to be a copyeditor. In high school, I was a bit like the boss of handee's first anecdote, although, to be fair, that was the only way even the basic spelling and grammar problems would be fixed in the school newspaper.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:43 AM on October 17, 2006

One boss came into an office I was working in and, as we were having a normal workplace conversation about something unrelated, grabbed the invoice out of my hand, folded it in thirds, handed it back to me to put in the envelope. Not a word about this was ever exchanged - hah!
I'm surprised we haven't heard any stories of band-related control freakery yet. That is ripe territory for you, Mrs. Doyle. Talk with some musicians. I have just started working with a guy who, the one time we've played together so far, stopped every five or ten seconds to explain to me (in a very friendly way) in great detail just how the drums should be. We are friends first, but haven't known each other long, so I said "You're a bit of a control freak, huh?"
"Yes, I am."
"Are you going to yell and freak out a lot?"
"No, I don't do that."
"Okay then."
He's really talented and has a lot of great songs, so I will go along happily. We haven't played together enough to have a lot of good anecdotes. Ask some musicians for stories, though.
posted by zoinks at 11:54 AM on October 17, 2006

For about five months, I was roommate/boarder to a woman who was, well, nuts. She was actually renting her house from a realty company and the company had put the house up for sale. For this reason, she said, everything had to be tidy at all times, in case the agent brought someone by to look at the place and didn't call ahead of time. So every day, before I left, I'd make my bed, put my books back on the shelf, etc. and close the door to my bedroom. When I came back, each and every day, I'd find my door open, my bed made up in a slightly different way (the bedspread pulled up over the pillows, I think) and the trash can moved from its spot by the desk (where I was sitting, usually, when I needed it) to just inside the door.

Oh, and there were two bathrooms in the house; one in her bedroom, one in the hallway outside my room. She insisted on using "my" bathroom in the morning to do her hair and makeup because, she said, it had better lighting. But in the meantime, she locked the door to her bedroom. Well, one morning she was in there and it was taking the usual hour or so. I had to take a leak. Badly. I didn't want to knock on the door and ask her to let me in because, really, I was trying to avoid all contact with her. So I went outside and tried to get into the back yard. I say "tried" because there was a tall wood fence around it and the gate was locked. I had no key to it. I went back inside where my landlady/tormentor was still in the bathroom. I climbed out my bedroom window and into the back yard, found a secluded corner, turned to the wall and took care of business.
posted by Clay201 at 11:56 AM on October 17, 2006

What do you do there that is team building?

Drink a bottle of wine each.

My very first job out of college was at a regional branch of a national ad agency, run by a cosmetic-surgery-addicted control freak named Dick (really).

1. We each were allowed five (5) ballpoint pens (two red and three blue—no black) and five (5) No. 2 pencils, to be kept in the shallow over-the-lap desk drawer ONLY. (AEs, creatives, admins, everyone. No exceptions.) Dick "worked" about two days a week, generally in the small hours of the morning, and he made it a point to conduct inspections and confiscate any contraband writing implements. Most art directors kept their markers and pencils in a bag and carried them back and forth from home, but one AD began hiding a set of Prismacolors in a locked drawer. Dick busted open the drawer and seized the markers, so next morning the AD quit on the spot. Dick took the cost of repairing the desk out of her last paycheck.

2. Dick had the receptionist Ellie (one of his ex-girlfriends) mark down when each employee arrived for work, left for lunch, and returned from lunch; because Ellie arrived so early, Dick let her go home at 4:00, so she couldn't note when we left for the day. The number of "tardy" (ten minutes or less) and "late" (more than ten minutes) arrivals were noted in our employee files and addressed during yearly review.

3. Although he was rarely in the office, Dick demanded that he be able to reach any one of us instantly. He spent some preposterous sum on one of the very first car phones, which was the size of a cinderblock, so he could harangue us from his Corvette, cruising down the Gulf Freeway with the wind in his hairplugs. If the person he wanted to speak to wasn't at his/her desk, he'd scream abuse at Ellie the quisling and demand that she find us. So, several times a day, the PA system crackled with something like, "vetiver, Dick holding on Two! Dick holding on Two!" in escalating tones of panic. Oh, how we laughed.
posted by vetiver at 12:12 PM on October 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

At one machineshop I worked at the boss gave me a job and told me how to do it, I asked one perfectly reasonable question to make sure we were both on the same page and he took a deep breath, went red in the face, then purple and proceeded to loadly and slowly repeat exactly what he had said earlier without touching on what I had asked him. He could have just answered me with a yes or no but once I asked him a question the situation was so out of control for him that he just could not deal with it. I once saw him throwing away into the scrap bins piles of good aluminium stock becouse he could not deal with seeing it touching, it had to be seperated by one inch
posted by Iron Rat at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2006

My mother-in-law is a terrible control freak. A couple of summers ago I went over to mow her lawn and she actually walked beside me, her oxygen bottle in one hand, shouting instructions to the effect that I was going too fast and too slow and to watch out for that sprinkler head.
posted by LarryC at 12:30 PM on October 17, 2006

Control-freak tendencies can manifest themselves early - my dad used to take me to the off-licence (liquor store) every Friday evening when I was a child, after music class. One Friday when I was about 10 years old, the shop owner nearly had a fit when he found me carefully dusting some old, tired-looking bottles of wine...
posted by altolinguistic at 12:40 PM on October 17, 2006

I have been corrected on how to fill a vase of flowers with water. My way was to have the vase on the counter and fill it from the sink sprayer. Her way was to put the vase in the sink, and fill it from the main faucet. Isn't my way better, because you don't have to dry off the bottom of the vase afterwards?
posted by xo at 12:46 PM on October 17, 2006

A coworker of mine recently got her Bachelor's degree after many many years of hard work and sleepless nights, and was applying to graduate schools to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. My then boss got a card for the rest of the office to sign to congratulate her. The card had a puppy on the front, looking up a long flight of stairs wistfully. On the inside, the card said "Congratulations on finally making to the top!" The boss crossed out "top" and hand-written "end," because she couldn't bear the thought of somebody below her in the office actually getting a higher degree than her. Later, a former coworker came by for a visit, and the boss took credit for my friend's graduation, saying "Remember how we had to nag her to finish school?" when in reality, the boss had made it near impossible for my friend to finish in any normal timeframe by over-controlling her schedule and pay.
posted by sarahnade at 1:13 PM on October 17, 2006

Food. Oh, god, food. My partner insists that ham sandwiches contain a layer of ham, a layer of cucumber, a layer of tomato. If the layers are in the wrong order, she'll take it apart and put it back together again.

Then you get people who can't sit with their backs to the room to eat, who eat foods in a certain order, who disassemble prepared food (eg burgers) before eating it, special diets... there's a rich vein of insanity there.
posted by Leon at 1:22 PM on October 17, 2006

I once had a boss in a smallish family-run company, who was so determined to prevent naughty goings-on that she organised separate male and female staff Christmas parties.
posted by andraste at 2:00 PM on October 17, 2006

Oh, and the same boss also insisted that all four people in our small department go to lunch at the same time, so there wouldn't be one or two people left on their own to "cause mischief". She also used to complain "I've heard you laughing in there!" as if laughter was against the rules (we were not in any contact with the public, were far enough away not to disturb other staff, and were engaged on very dull routine physical work, so we had to talk to relieve the boredom!)
posted by andraste at 2:04 PM on October 17, 2006

I've decided no one in my office knows how to staple. Who staples paperwork in the top middle of the page, 2.5" down? Or so close to the top left corner that the staple is barely hanging onto the page? Or stapling portrait and landscape pages together to have them end up stapled at two opposite (or three of four) corners, with half the portrait pages upside down? Who are these people?

I've taken it upon myself to fix this problem. When someone brings me some paperwork to work on, the first thing I do is take out all the staples (it could be three or 30), square up the pile and insert one neatly-placed staple. If the issue I'm working on requires discussing at the time they give it to me, I often start pulling staples before they leave my desk. I don't think they all know how to react.
posted by youngergirl44 at 2:58 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think I worked for youngergirl44 when I was an intern at an ad agency. I stapled over 100 packets, full color copies, at a perfect 45 degree angle. I was told that this was "too expressive" and had to re-copy the whole packet all over and then run it through the b&w copier so it could staple it perfectly and with the thinner "copier" staples.

I worked at a technology company run by (and bearing the name of) a rather eccentric gentleman who had won a genius grant. He was an insane control freak and when questioned, the "I won a genius grant at age blah blah" was brought up.

He had a personal archivist. She printed out his email (sent and received), gathered his sketched upon napkins, transcribed his voicemails -- basically anything he touched or put so much as a line on was filed in his personal library.

He also had, for a short stint, a gadgeteer. It was the side job of one of the programmers to read every magazine and usenet group (ahh, pre-blog) about consumer electronics and make recommendations on which ones he should buy. Such as a multi-thousand dollar video camera for his 1-year-old to look at himself in. Apparently, a mirror wasn't "cutting edge" enough.

He had one of the marketing artists working on Photoshopping his (rather stereotypically British) front teeth for the entire time I was working there. Either they looked too fake, too yellow, too crooked, too beaver-like, etc.

Every fabric used and piece of art hanging had to have been generated by the software made by the company. A nice idea, but rather impractical when it came to breakroom bar stools.

He paged the head of the digital marketing department at 3am when she was on vacation because the website was down. She, in turn, paged the entire staff. Turns out, he pulled the ethernet cord out of his computer without noticing it (in the days before WiFi).

Funny though, I thought he was awesome at the time and never resented a minute of it. At least he knew exactly what he wanted.
posted by Gucky at 5:31 PM on October 17, 2006

I suppose this is in line with some of the other anecdotes posted.

Whenever I'm out at a store and have some time to kill, I find myself organizing items that are jumbled up. For example, I was recently at an office supply store where I spent a good fifteen minutes arranging a bin of discount software so all the boxes were lined up neatly with the titles all facing the same direction. I've been told by friends numerous times that someone actually gets paid to do that, but there's always the nagging thought in my mind that there's a reason it was out of order to begin with.
posted by mindless progress at 11:34 PM on October 17, 2006

I'm not sure exactly where the line is between bully and control freak, but the general rule of thumb when I was growing up was that you didn't do anything you didn't absolutely have to when my father was around. If you carried an object from one room to another, he'd yell at you because you were carrying it in a way he thought likely to result in banging into the wall or furniture. If you cooked food, he'd bitch about the termperature at which you were cooking it (too hot; uses too much electricity), the utensils you used (you'll scratch the pan with that; use a rubber spatula), what you put in it (You don't need all that garlic), and fifteen other things.

If I read a book, I risked being accused of laziness and assigned a task. If I made a phone call, I'd probably get yelled at for tying up the line. If I took a shower, I could catch hell for about six different bathroom-centric offenses. I mean, everything was cause for a fucking tantrum.

One of the major traumas of my childhood was trying to eat chicken or pork or any meat non-boneless meat at the dinner table. He'd insist that everyone, including my mother, get every single last bit of meat or even arguably edible meat relative off the bone. If we threw the bone away with anything on it, we were wasting the meat. I swear, I really tried to get it all, but it was pretty much impossible to meet his standard. None of us could do it. We started begging my mother not to cook and serve meat with bones in it. Every evening around five thirty or six, we'd ask what was for dinner. If it was chicken or pork chops, we'd start trying to come up with some excuse why we had to eat earlier or later than my father.

There were a thousand other things: battles over the temperature at which the thermostat was set, the care and use of automobiles (even if it wasn't one of his), the drain cover in the bathtub, the methods used to mow the lawn... there are just far too many for me to remember or list.

The justification for just about every single one of these insane demands was money. If he paid for something or owned it or spent money on it in any way, then he had an absolute right to control it absolutely and beat the shit out of you if you didn't do exactly as he wished with it.

Hmm. I wonder why I grew up to be anti-capitalist?
posted by Clay201 at 12:04 AM on October 18, 2006 [3 favorites]

My ex boss sent the following email (names removed)

A, Hi.

I am following up with you to get a written explanation as to why you were so late to deliver a worker to the July 29 contract action meeting. I am also asking that you explain in writing why you did not participate in the clean up of the room after the meeting (as is standard practice).

On July 29, I did not receive any call from you in advance of the meeting to give me a heads up that you were running late with your pick up of workers.

According to my phone record, I called you after the meeting's scheduled start (10am). You picked up the phone and told me that you were running late, and that you were about 10 minutes away (on South Dakota Avenue).

The worker that you picked up did not arrive in 10 minutes. The worker came in just before 10:30am. You took an additional 10 minutes to arrive. You entered the room with M.

At the close of the meeting, you did not stay to help with the clean up of the room.

I understand that you had a worker to take home. AT also had a worker to return home, but, without asking if he should and without asking what needed to be done, he participated in the clean up. BT, the housekeeper from SE, also stayed to help. She also saw what needed to be done and did it. She cleaned up the spilled milk and coffee, and helped take down the wall charts.

The process of clean up slowed down considerably because both you and M left. I understand that you may have had an urgent need to take W home. If that was the case, you should have communicated that with me. Also, surely you or M could have arranged things so that one of you could have stayed.

Please help me understand what happened.

posted by crabintheocean at 12:16 AM on October 18, 2006

And she sent this to my coworker:

M, Hi.

I am following up with you to get a written explanation of why you were late to deliver workers to the July 29 contract action meeting. I am also asking that you explain in writing why you did not help with the clean up after the meeting (as is standard practice).

On July 29, I did not receive a call from you in advance of the meeting to give me any sort of heads up that you were running late with your worker pick up.

According to my phone record, I called you at 10:02 am to find out why you weren't at the library; you did not pick up your phone. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 10am.

At 10:12 am I received a call from you. You said that there had been some kind of problem with the rides and that you were just then leaving C's house in Hyattsville. You were at that point 15-20 minutes away from the library.

The workers (who you picked up) did arrive at the meeting about 15 minutes later, but it took you an additional 10 minutes to arrive. You came into the meeting over 30 minutes late. You walked in with A,

At the close of the meeting, you did not stay to help with clean up. And you did not pack up and carry the t shirts that you yourself had brought to the meeting.

I understand that you had workers to return home. AT also had a ride (BT) to drop back home, but AT stayed to help with the clean up. He didn's ask me if he should, and he didn't ask what he should do--he just did what obviously needed to be done. BT, the housekeeper from SE, also saw what needed to be done and without asking helped with taking down the wall charts and cleaning up the coffee and beverge area.

Because you and A had left, the clean up took considerably more time. We had to take two trips down to the cars to load.

I understand that there may have been some special urgency to getting C and/or L home. If that is the case, that should have been communicated to me. Also, surely either you or A could have arranged things so that at least one of you stayed to help.

Please help me understand what happened.

Thank you,
posted by crabintheocean at 12:35 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Wow!! You people are amazing. I've marked as my fave the one I think will help me in my specific current problem, but there's lots of other stuff that will come in useful too. Thank you all so much for helping.
posted by Mrs.Doyle at 4:27 AM on October 18, 2006

My boss occasionally holds staff meetings solely to instruct us how to punch holes in paper properly.
posted by battlecj at 7:05 AM on October 18, 2006

I once had a boss who would write out, on post-it notes, specific "personal" birthday messages for employees to transcribe onto the birthday employee’s card, to ensure none of us wrote anything 'inappropriate." She would compare our messages to the original before giving the card (and had a stock of backup cards, in case anyone went off-message and we had to start over).

Same boss would immediately trash the most trivial of post-it notes if she made any sort of error on it - typo, incorrectly formed letter, etc. The saddest part was that she couldn't spell for shit, so she would sweat ten minutes over "Plese fill out time cards by Wenseday!! :)"


I have an aunt whose parenting behaviors are... odd, ranging from "practical but bloodless" to weirder things that are probably indicative of OCD. She picked a docile man and told him they were going to get married, and they did. She decided to have four children, and did, on a schedule, four boys spaced almost exactly 1.5 years apart. Their names all start with the letter J.

The boys look creepily similar to each other (I suspect this has always delighted her), to the extent that on school photo days, she'd color-coordinate their shirts. This was so in future, everyone would be able to tell at a glance which boy it was. If he’s in a red shirt, it's Jason, etc. She also made all other clothing decisions for the boys, up through high school.

Food issues are big in this family. All food choices - meals, snacks, etc. have to be run past Mom. Every portion is measured to precisely reflect the "appropriate" serving size, or the one listed on the package. I once saw her measure out four bowls of Cheerios using a kitchen scale, and, I swear to God, frown and remove one Cheerio from the bowl and return it to the box.

When I was 17 and the boys were ~ 14, 12.5, 10, and 8.5, I treated them all to some chocolate ice cream. I got in huge trouble for that one, because not only was ice cream not on the schedule, and not ONLY had I neglected to measure it, but the boys had not ever tasted chocolate ice cream before - they'd only ever had vanilla, and that's how she wanted to keep it. Their baffled faces, when I offered them the ice cream, were heartbreaking. "That can't be ice cream; it isn't white."

The oldest two boys are now out of college, having earned degrees in subjects their mother chose, and working jobs she told them to get. Now that they're over 20, they're allowed to date, but only girls who get official approval, of course. Son #2 still lives in Mom’s basement. Son #1 has moved out, "on his own" for the first time, at age 25 or so. He's living in an apartment his mom picked out. She has a key and comes over once a week to clean.
posted by jessicapierce at 1:25 PM on October 18, 2006 [2 favorites]

Wow. Sounds like some lucky lady will have a fun Mother-In-Law ;-)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:54 PM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there's definitely a link between control freaks and OCD. This is more of an OCD anecdote, but it's interesting...

My little brother takes great pains to have everything in his life coordinated to his liking, so I decided to test his anal tendencies. We were watching some football in his room, and when he left to go to the bathroom, I rotated the (upright) chapstick 180 degrees on his bed-stand. When he came back into the room, he looked very uncomfortable. Fraught with anxiety, he kept looking around the room worriedly. After a couple minutes, he twisted the chapstick back so it was facing him, and he was calm again. He's since mellowed out considerably from those days.

I actually feel more sympathy than disdain for those afflicted with this condition (unless they get in my way, such as is the case with the light-bulb and lawnmower stories above). It's been described to me as an itch that only grows worse the more you try to ignore it.
posted by Mach3avelli at 5:39 PM on October 23, 2006

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