Tag Archives: counting obsessions

Taking the Count

18 Apr


Taking the Count

By L. Stewart Marsden


Lately I’ve caught myself subconsciously counting things. I don’t know why, I just do.

There are 14 steps from the main floor of my condo where I live to the lower floor. That’s counting the two steps formed by the corner at the bottom of the stairway. Consequently, I take the same number of steps up to my bedroom at night and again in the morning.

When the wall pendulum clock begins to chime, I count along: one … two … three –– until the hour designation has bonged out.

It takes two minutes and thirty-six seconds for the frozen boiled chicken tenders I feed my dogs to thaw. Approximately four minutes for my Mr. Coffee to drip-brew my morning quota of two cups of coffee.

Why? Not why how many, but why do I count?

Perhaps at age 68 I’ve become painfully conscious of things like how much time I have left in my life. I didn’t count everything when I was younger, except things like how many days till my birthday, or Christmas, or until summer.

Now, practically everything is a count:

  1. Number of wives;
  2. Number of children and grandchildren (that are known of);
  3. Number of days until the longest day of daylight;
  4. Number of days until the shortest day of daylight†;
  5. Number of Christmas cards I get††;
  6. Number of age spots;
  7. Number of prescribed medicationsß;
  8. Number of calories in a meal;
  9. Number of calories I eat in a day;
  10. Number of times I check my weight;
  11. Number of times during the day I think about food;
  12. Number of days those leftovers have been in the frig and can I eat them anyhow;
  13. Number of times I’ve gotten food poisoning;
  14. Number of people I can count on;
  15. Number of people who can count on me;
  16. Number of years Duke basketball will continue its failed One-and-Done strategy;
  17. Number of days 45 can go without embarrassing either himself, his wife, or the nation;
  18. Actually, instead of days, use hours or minutes for the previous count;
  19. Or maybe seconds;
  20. Number of days I can go without showering;
  21. Number of times I wear the same clothing without changing;
  22. Number of friends I have (which is greatly reduced because of #’s 18 and 19)
  23. Number of miles per gallon I get in my hybrid Honda Insight;
  24. Number of miles I can go on a tank of gas in my Insight;
  25. Number of miles I have to walk on the highway to get five gallons of gas;
  26. Number of days I can go with the Check Engine light on without getting nervous;
  27. Number of dollars I have to give the mechanic because I didn’t heed the Check Engine light;
  28. Number of cans of LeCroix I drink in a day;
  29. Number of days I’ve been off Facebook;
  30. Number of days I’ve been off Facebook without thinking about Facebook;
  31. Number of times I now check my iPhone for text messages having left Facebook;
  32. Number of times Bless your heart is uttered in the south;
  33. Number of grits in a serving;
  34. Number of times the 2nd Amendment is referred to in a day;
  35. Number of things I count during the day.
†Only one state where this doesn’t count: Arizona. I don’t mind visiting Arizona … I just don’t want to live there.
††I don’t send Christmas cards, but might have to this year since I left Facebook (see #29)
ßWhich at this point is limited to one prescription, and 99 OTCs for all of the other symptoms I’m self-diagnosing and treating (after all, there’s only one letter difference between the AMA and the AMRA). BTW: you have to do some research to understand this quip.

I don’t actually blame myself for this counting obsession. It’s all around us. And, I suppose, brings some semblance of order to what is otherwise a chaotic and unpredictable time in the nation. It’s in our vernacular. Ensconced in our euphemisms. We’ve done it for countless centuries.

  1. Down for the count.
  2. Don’t count me out –– or for the optimist, you can count me in.
  3. The full count.
  4. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
  5. Count your blessings (bless your heart).
  6. Count yourself lucky.
  7. The countdown.
  8. That doesn’t count.
  9. That counts.
  10. Nobody’s counting.
  11. Look who’s counting.
  12. Ad infinitum (which is like trying to determine the true value of π).

I guess I won’t worry about it. It’s a feature of my life, and I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to ignore it –– which is futile. In the long run, it counts for very little anyway.

So I accept the inevitable, and will turn my attention to more important matters, such as how many days until the new season of The Walking Dead launches.

By the way, the word count of this article is 793. I need seven words to make 800.

You can count on it.