What Happened When My OCD Encountered a Lizard in a Toaster


I walked into my kitchen. Opened the fridge. Pulled out a bagel. Sliced it in half. Started to toss it into the toaster. And I froze.

I froze because I noticed something. Something unusual sitting at the bottom. Moving at the bottom.

A lizard. A freaking lizard.

A slimy, salmonella-carrying lizard. At the bottom of my toaster. Where I put my food. Where I have put countless other food. A countless number of times. My mind started up with the dance it does so often.

I wondered how many other times it had been in there. How many other times my food had touched the places it touched. I questioned if the temperature ever became high enough to kill off the germs. I pictured what would have happened if I didn’t realize it was inside of there. I could see its flesh on fire. I could smell its flesh on fire. I didn’t want to picture it anymore. It didn’t happen. I knew it didn’t. But, I couldn’t stop.

I frantically rushed in to the bathroom. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth.

I scurried into the kitchen, carefully picked up the toaster and carted it outside. I discarded it onto my patio table, until I could figure out what to do with it next.

I feverishly ran back inside. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth.

I wondered if I was able to ward the germs off in time. I tried to mentally retrace my steps. Tried to remember if the lizard was still inside of the toaster when I carried it out. Or, if it had somehow escaped and crawled into something else. I already knew the answer. I checked! I double checked! I triple checked! But maybe I should have checked one last time. What if it got out after the third?

I didn’t feel clean enough.

I turned the water hotter.

I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth.

Back in the kitchen, I dissected and disinfected the entire counter. I threw out the sponge I used to scrub it. I threw out the bagels because I couldn’t fathom eating them anymore. All I could see was a lizard crawling in between my food. I imagined myself taking a bite of the bagel with it accidentally in between. I begged myself to stop. It wasn’t plausible. It wouldn’t just sit in a bagel and wait to be eaten. But when I squeezed my eyes shut, I could see guts. I could feel guts inside of my mouth.

I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth.

The exiled toaster sat outside for days.

Until I finally approached it.

And threw it away.

Then I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth.

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Thinkstock photo via 49pauly


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