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OCD church lady.

June 20, 2010

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=obsessed&iid=5073282″ src=”″ width=”380″ height=”285″ /]Some people just beg to be the subject of a blog entry. OCD church lady asked for it twice.

The first time I encountered OCD church lady (let’s just call her “O” for short), she actually tiptoed down the aisle to the empty seat next to me ever so stealthily. I have no idea why she needed to be stealthy as in this particular church everyone seems to think it’s okay to yell over the organist’s carefully prepared Bach prelude until someone tells them, in a nice way of course, to shut up and pay attention to important things like the announcements.

At any rate, O tiptoed on her prissy patent pointy pumps and set her prissy patent purse on the chair next to me. Then she spoke. I expected the usual, “Is anyone sitting here?” But no. O pointed to her husband and announced “We’re going potty.”

“Okay,” I said in my reflexive mommy response to any request to go potty. Then I gaped after her prancing prettily down the aisle in her jaunty nautical boiled wool suit with its gold crest followed by her equally nautical husband on their way to “the potty.” Mind you, this woman was at least 60 years old. At least she didn’t ask me if she could go tinkle.

Hank, on the other side of me, must have noticed my unusual expression.

“What did she say?” he asked.

“They’re going potty,” I said.



We managed to stifle our giggles and we averted our eyes when they returned from their trip to go tee tee.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=obsessed&iid=5234472″ src=”″ width=”380″ height=”308″ /]

This of course ruined the sermon for me as I spent the time wondering what it must have been like to grow up as one of her children, then how I could make her into a blog post. But there wasn’t enough material, so I put the thought aside until the very next week.

Mind you, this church is enormous. There are 2,700 members and probably a couple of thousand more non-members who show up for four (or is it five?) services every Sunday. The music is tremendous (I wish the congregation would shut up during the prelude…) and the pastor is spot-on (meaning he agrees with me most of the time).

The next week Hank was sick and didn’t go to church, Daniel was in youth group, and I arrived slightly later than usual. This is fine if you’re alone because you can usually find a single seat in a pretty good location. I scanned the floor and spotted my seat which, of course, was in the middle of a row. I, in my clog-like shoes, crushed a few toes on my way in and whacked at least one person in the back of the head with my oversize vinyl purse, but “excuse me” healed things. I plopped into a seat and didn’t look at the woman next to me until….

She tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do you mind?” as she reached her hand behind me.

I said, “No,” assuming she wanted to get a hymnal from the rack behind my seat and directed my attention to trying to hear the prelude.

But then she began to pick hairs off my (non-boiled) wool jacket.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=obsessed&iid=5072983″ src=”″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]That very morning I had pulled this jacket out of its dry cleaning bag thinking “Well, at least I don’t have to pick the dog hairs off this morning,” and then I dashed out the door. I remember to remove the dog hairs about half the time even though I wear black a lot because I live the Pacific Northwest where you get exiled if you don’t wear black even in August. Of course, I forgot that my head had just the day before decided to start divesting itself of all the chemo-induced grey hair which, naturally, landed on my black wool shoulders.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=perfection&iid=5079609″ src=”″ width=”234″ height=”360″ /]As I turned to look at the hair picker, with yet another gaping expression on my face, I observed that this woman was my buddy O. Out of all those thousands of people in that church I had managed again to sit next to The Mother of All OCD Church Ladies. There were enough hairs on my shoulder to keep O happy and busy through the entire prelude and all of the announcements.

I’m the first to appreciate it when someone tells me I have spinach on my teeth or that my slip is showing. In this instance, though, I felt like I was in the primate cage getting a public grooming and I was tempted to ask her if she wouldn’t mind finishing the job by picking through my hair and eating any parasites she might find. Better yet, I should have asked her if she needed to go potty.

So what are the take-homes here? First, if you’ve never been frustrated by The Woman Who Does Everything More Perfectly than You, you might be an OCD church lady. Second, if you don’t understand why the statement “My house is the one with the amber and mauve Christmas lights,” is annoying, you’re a likely candidate for OCD church lady-ness. Third, if it’s easier for you to do everything at church because that’s the only way it will ever be done right, you are an OCD church lady. Finally, if you are right now obsessing about whether or not you’re an OCD church lady, you definitely are.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Sandy permalink
    June 20, 2010 5:09 pm

    On what seems the 100th day of cloudy, cold weather here in Seattle, I laughed my butt of on this entry, Jill! The way you worded it in exquisite detail, I could just see the expression of horror on your face and imagine “O” carefully working on grooming you.

    • June 20, 2010 6:01 pm

      Congratulations, Sandy!! Yours was the 1000th comment on this blog. Your prize is a gift certificate for a free grooming at Woodland Park Zoo. Let me know if you want me to mail that to you.

  2. June 20, 2010 5:20 pm


    Oh, Jill. . .

  3. heidi permalink
    June 20, 2010 5:38 pm

    Too funny! Missed you and Daniel yesterday in Poulsbo. Hope Daniel is feeling better today.

  4. Cristina permalink
    June 21, 2010 12:32 pm

    I was half expecting OCD Church Lady to pull a lint roller out of her purse, but no…she actually plucked each and every hair! And you’re strangers! I’m half mortified on your behalf, and the other half is cracking up…

  5. June 22, 2010 10:08 am

    This is very funny.

    I think I’ve met OCD Church Lady right here in Chicago. She walked up to me (a complete stranger) brushed my bangs out of my eyes, swept my hair behind my ears and said, “Don’t wear too much hair on your face dear.” I shook my hair with as much vigor as a wet dog and walked away. I wasn’t in church. I was at a wedding. Her calling me “Dear” is what bugged me the most.

    OCD Church Lady gets around.

  6. mom permalink
    June 22, 2010 7:07 pm

    I know her Jill and so do you. Think carefully and you will find her. Mom with love

  7. E Lis permalink
    June 23, 2010 12:20 pm

    My Mom has OCD. Lets just say there is a reason I REFUSE to keep my house perfectly clean 😉 I try to explain it to others, but yes, imagine my childhood.

    I absolutely detest when people try to groom me like a primate. Great description Jill as that is the one I use myself. And yes, you simply can not live in the NW and not own tons of black (my cat is lighter haired, so I typically have some hair stuck to my clothes to go along with my blonde hair). 🙂

    Good thoughts, prayers and white light – Lisa

  8. E Lis permalink
    June 23, 2010 12:22 pm

    And I should point out, my Mom is not OCD Church lady as it takes my Mom too long to go anywhere since she is busy cleaning and grooming and she could never make it as far as Chicago 😉

    I love my Mom. I love her, but OCD is treatable now a days…..

  9. Bemused Boomer permalink
    June 24, 2010 12:50 pm

    I wonder if it would have slowed her down if you’d bowed your head and put your hands in the prayer position. Do OCD ladies even skip a beat when the object of their obsessiveness is so obviously “otherwise engaged?” Hopefully, you won’t inadvertently sit next to her again and give yourself a chance to find out!

    BTW, I’ve been living in the California desert for nine months now, and I still have an awfully lot of Seattle black clothes. It’s hard to give up those “old friends!”


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