He Likes Order — and Lines Up His Socks to Await Their Turn on His Feet


I wouldn’t have made a very good hippy. My formative years were in the late 1950s and early ’60s — my high school and college years — which were a little early for hippies anyway.

But lots of guys of my age in the late 1960s, my late 20s, decided to tune in and drop out. To any younger folks who don’t know what that means, it referred to the hippy lifestyle, which included not having a job, indulging in recreational drugs and maybe even living in a free-love commune.

Some of that (though not the drugs) may have sounded like fun, but I always thought there was something chaotic, or simply too disorganized about the hippy lifestyle. I always preferred structure.

Now I won’t deny that my college friends and later my young reporter buddies at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans liked to party. But our substance of choice was beer and liquor, not marijuana, coke or LSD.

We showed up for work everyday (well almost), kept our own apartments as opposed to having a communal living arrangement and, with a couple of exceptions, didn’t wear our hair too long. I had a crew cut until about 1968 or ’69.
But, as I said, I chose to live the way I did because a certain structure to life just seemed right.

I’ve maintained that preference until today and my predilection for order even gives Mary cause to tease me about being obsessive-compulsive. I might be, but only in minor ways.
For example, I organize my things from bath towels to socks, shirts and paints, so that they each get used in turn. Let me give you an example of why I do that. Let’s say I just stack my bath towels and take one off the top when I shower, Well, if I did that, the few on top would get used over and over again while the ones on the bottom would never get used. So I’d end up with some worn out towels and some brand new ones. Not orderly enough for me!

Same thing for my socks. They are in organized little rows in my chest of drawers.
I organize my books by subject and chronologically. So if I want to find a particular volume on military history, US history or true crime, I know just where to find it. Breaking it down, the books on early US history will be placed before books on more recent topics. That makes good sense, no?

I used to organize my CDs by music genre and composer and artist, but one day my biggest CD rack was accidentally turned over, the CDs scattered n the floor, completely mixed up. I’ve never gone back and reorganized them. That’s a job I may tackle one day. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just getting old.

But even if I am a little obsessive-compulsive, I’m not an extremist. For example, my drinking glasses are not neatly lined up in rows in the cabinet. And occasionally you’d even find a couple of somewhat sloppy piles of paper on my desk (though generally it’s pretty neat)..

So, overall, the structured life works for me. And I also have the advantage of having all of my towels in an equally used condition. I’ll bet not everyone can say that!