The Heartbreak of OCD

My husband Ed and I are proud gay men who have observed over the years a tragic affliction which is prevalent among our people. It is called obsessive compulsive decorating (OCD). Despite their best efforts, men with this affliction are not able to control the urge to decorate and redecorate the spaces around them. We have seen one of our oldest friends unconsciously rearranging unkempt plastic flower arrangements. rearranging the furniture in seating areas and plumping sofa pillows in public buildings. He does not even realize he’s doing this while he continues carrying on a conversation with friends. Easily a quarter of the men we know have turned this curse into a blessing by becoming highly sought after gay decorators. One of the best examples of a man dealing with OCD is our friend Michelangelo. We have known him for over 20 years during which time he and his understanding husband Ambrosio have run a successful computer software firm. The two of them are very socially and politically active and admired by friends and strangers alike. When we met Michelangelo, the couple had recently purchased a very nice mid-century modern home on the top of a hill (rare in Dallas) with views of the downtown Dallas skyline. The house needed updating and was in good hands with Michelangelo. Over the years Michelangelo has had innumerable projects, one leading into the next, transforming rooms multiple times. Whenever we see his handy sewing machine on the dining room table, we know he’s off on a new project. Their expansive yard is now home to a wonderful pool, cabana and outdoor kitchen that would be at home in the Hamptons. Several years ago the couple inherited a ranch in East Texas which has also received Michelangelo’s full attention and ministrations. As if this wasn’t enough decorating to satisfy any person’s OCD, Michelangelo purchased a small run down house in East Texas purportedly to provide shelter for a friend (the friend never arrived). After total renovation, the house now serves as a small rental property. One of the plans that Michelangelo came up with when his OCD was in overdrive was to add onto the master bedroom in their Dallas home. The addition, the way I understood it, was going to be an enclosed porch for Michelangelo and Ambrosio to drink coffee and read the paper in the morning. After explaining the project to me, I tried to be supportive. I told Ambrosio that I had always been puzzled how the two of them had survived in only 4,000 sq ft and of course they needed to expand on their their limited space. Michelangelo is now getting older and I pray his OCD subsides so he can enjoy retirement. However, I believe this obsession will remain with Michelangelo until the day Ambrosio admits him to a nursing home.