National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Terrified


It’s 8 p.m. on an idle Monday night. The pruning sheers cut through the stems of the roses, hydrangeas, and assorted annoying nameless blossom flowers of this week’s arrangement with ease. As with the last three daily pruning sessions, this one is a success. Each flower has been arranged, returned to exactly the same place from whence it came. The new water, not too warm, has been filled, not too high, but just enough for the beautifully scented, dying life forms to drink for another day. The flowers, arranged in antique Czech crystal, are flawless.

The dishes from dinner have been scraped, scrubbed, and pre-cleaned and now sit comfortably in the dishwasher waiting for an evening of deep cleaning. Despite the kitchen having been cleaned after dinner service ended at 5:30 p.m., it is not flawless. The all-purpose cleanser and sponge come out of the place beneath the sink where they rest so as not to draw too much attention to themselves. They know their purpose and go right to work, cleaning an already clean surface, busting away the germs and unseen bacteria that live in every crevice and threaten the lives of millions. The kitchen is scrubbed, gleaming and flawless.

It is now 9:30 p.m. on the same idle Monday night. A few tasks of the nightly routine haven’t quite been accomplished yet. The bed has to be turned down, clothes laid out on tissue paper for tomorrow, bag checks to ensured that everything from credit cards to wet wipes are in place and, of course, the showering, preening and come down process.

No, no, no – before all that, the vacuuming has to happen.

Or wait, everything can be accomplished and the vacuum can happen last, so the freedom to walk on the carpet is still available between rooms. Everyone knows that after you vacuum the carpet you shouldn’t obscure the fresh lines with unsightly footprints.


Like clockwork, the vacuum comes out and does her best lines this week. She rounds the bends, finds her way under the overstuffed and fluffed couch the same way she does every night. The dwelling is now, like everything must be, flawless.

The showering portion of the evening, possibly the best part, happens at 11 p.m., the same as last night and tomorrow. First, brush the teeth and apply white strips. Then shampoo, condition, do a full-body scrub with a loofa, wash the face, and exfoliate. Once out of the shower, swig some mouth wash and spit. Bedtime is so close yet so far away, what with the three different lotioning sessions for body and face, the lip exfoliation, the nail filing, and tooth flossing. The magnifying mirror comes in handy for a high-def view of the pores and to scour the epidermis for anything that isn’t perfect, like a hawk looking for the one lame bunny. The goal is flawless.

The last three hours have gone by the same way they do every single night. The fight for daily flawlessness is a hard battle, but if you’re organized and believe in yourself, anything is possible.

At 11:30 p.m. on that idle Monday night, I look from the magnifying mirror to the full-sized mirror and notice a stealthy, glazed-over eyeball staring back at me. It’s similar to the ones on Great White Sharks we see every summer on Discovery.

I have spent three hours of my day on tasks that could be better left for another time, their time better spent with my husband and puppy. When I realize the simple fact that I am a tyrant with possibly a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I rush out of the bathroom (once the lotions have soaked in) to find my husband and my puppy cowering in the corner not wanting to walk on the carpet. I have alienated them once again when they are the ones needing my affection, my pruning skills, my whit, and my determination.


They look at me with wide eyes and with a sprinkle of jealousy toward my vacuum. Order and cleanliness are important to me, but at what cost? When I was single and lonely my traditions were a good distraction, but now they’re selfish and damaging.

Hello. My name is Johnny, and I have a problem.




  1. Okay, now I want to cry. I have no idea why… but I’m sure the answer is there and I”m not letting it through anyway.

  2. Проблема? Какая проблема? Ты тот кто ты есть и ,главное , тебя любят
    таким какой ты есть. Или ты притворялся кем то другим до свадьбы? У всех
    свои “тараканы” : кто то проводит много времени на работе, кто то
    бесконечно возится с машиной в гараже, кто то чистит до блеска квартиру и
    не вылазит по долгу из ванной)…Можно, конечно ломать себя и меняться,
    если ты реально понимаешь, что то, что ты делаешь мешает тебе или
    окружающим быть счастливым. Вопрос в том, чтобы принять в душе` эти
    изменения, а иначе- здравствуй депрессия и тогда уж точно всем будет 100% плохо….Если я, конечно, правильно поняла суть проблемы)))

  3. Кстати, в следующий раз когда будешь в Москве могу предоставить свою квартиру на растерзание, ибо у меня в квартире творится трэш и анархия….. Вот где твоё Obsessive Compulsive Disorder найдет достойное применение- оторвешься по-полной))) Все чистящие средства за счет заведения)

  4. Wow. I love the honesty of this piece. I think maybe we all have problems, things we have to work on throughout our lives. It’s an ongoing process. I’m really glad you’re looking at this, and are brave enough to share it. I think being real and honest and taking a good look at yourself and what you are doing is way better than “perfection.”

  5. Lady Lisa

    I don’t think you have a problem, Johnny, as much as the simple fact that old habits die hard. And even though you are married now, you (and your hubby) take your routines with you. If you believe your strict routines are putting a dent in your relationship with your husband, then perhaps you need to change some of the evening “chores” and divide them up into different parts of the day, so the entire three hours of tasks is not all spent at once, you know what I mean? You don’t have to feel guilty about looking after yourself, because you’re in the public eye and it’s important for you to look your best, I think. But you have to draw a line, and set boundaries as it were, perhaps only spending half of the time that you usually do on personal grooming in the evening, and NO MORE. (Watch how fast things get done in about half the time when that’s ALL the time you will allow)! I’m with you on the vacuuming though, fresh lines are like fresh flowers – a daily MUST! Anyway, thank-you for this insightful column Johnny, and sharing your self-critique. I love you and I believe in you! Lisa S.

  6. MartinR80

    Accepting that you have a problem is the first step to fix it or, at least, soften it! :) OCDs can get really bad, really affect our lives. I hope you look for help to reign it in, so you can enjoy your life fully!
    Good luck!

  7. My husband is more like you. He is big on keeping things neat and orderly; however, he is big on waxing furniture too. It’s a good thing he is the way he is, because my house would be a disaster!

  8. Recognizing that there’s a problem is a great first
    step. Seek professional guidance from someone who has had previous success in this area and whom you respect. Yes, some of this OCD is genetic, but you are so
    creative and caring that it would be such a waste for you to spend so much of
    your time cleaning/maintaining. 1) Maybe you can replace carpeting with polyurethane sealed wood flooring which can be very quickly damp mopped with 20-inch-wide microfiber Rubbermaid Hygen pads (toss all pads into laundry when done). 2) Sip Starbucks through a straw to avoid so many chemical treatments to your teeth (check with your dentist, but frequent use of corrosive chemicals can’t be good in the long run). 3) Check with a dermatologist–will that much exfoliating cause your skin cells to reproduce too often and wear out your teleomeres? 4) Avoid pile, corduroy and short-fibered upholstery, bedding, and clothing. Maybe everyone can standardize on wearing white Sea Island or Egyptian cotton (long fibers) indoors to avoid dark lint. 5) Install furnace vent filters and run a HEPA air filter while you are out. Dirt cannot materialize out of nowhere, so if it comes floating in air, it can be grabbed before landing.

  9. Cleaning chemicals and some beauty products (white strips) can be bad for you when used too much. Careful, Johnny! But beyond that, you clearly recognize the other effects it can have on you (your relationships). Thanks for your honesty. I admire how you openly talk about your flaws rather than hiding behind an image of perfection.

  10. Marilyn Willett

    mabey you’re trying to over compensate for something.

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