Me: I never think of myself as a control freak. I mean, I like my routines, don’t get me wrong, and I prefer you stay out of my kitchen when I’m cooking, I don’t need your help, and I have to get to where I’m going fifteen minutes early or my whole system is off, and I don’t like surprise parties that I don’t know about first. But that’s not being a control freak, is it?
Jillian: I don’t see myself as much of a control freak, either. Control freaks are loud about it; they emanate control. You look at one and you think, hey she looks like she’d make a decent totalitarian. But come to think of it, don’t we all have a little bit of control freak in us? I mean, if you were to diagram us, wouldn’t we all fall somewhere in the grey area, between freaky and not?
Me: Oh, I agree. Most of us like to be in control of our lives and we take measures to see to it that we are, by what we say and do. And mostly we aren’t even aware of it. We have our daily routines to protect us. We have our jobs. We have our domains. Our ducks are in a row. But just pull us out of those regularities, like in an airport, say, where we are on someone else’s schedule, and watch us go berserk.
Jillian: Here’s an example. My roommate has knocked a pillow off of her bed, wedged in between my desk and her bedposts. It’s right near my trash can, but I won’t, I won’t, I won’t move it. It’s hers. And it’s not where it’s supposed to be. I nudge her, telling her even though I know she is half-asleep, hey, so, your pillow is in the trash can, probably something to think about. Or, another time, when my friend has taken a video of our (lousy) dance rehearsal and I ask her to send it to me, and she doesn’t, right away, and the thought of the video, temporarily living on her phone is more than I can handle. I fidget for two minutes before I have to ask her again to kindly forward the video. NOW. Are these control freak moments? Maybe. They’re not not controlling, or me acting freakish. Still, I would call it a desire to be orderly and organized. Definitely meticulous. But control freak? I hesitate with that damning two word phrase. Sure, I may lean on the side of control, but by no means completely subscribe to this character trope.
Me: Well, I did actually freak out once, when I lost complete control for three days. Grandpa and I were in Australia for a convention and his main Aussie rep, a totalitarian if I ever met one, invited us to his country home outside of Sydney, where we would drive with him to the convention in Canberra. He kept us waiting 3 hours before finally driving there, then casually mentioned that he had forgotten to make reservations for us to stay, and finally found a place at the last minute which had no indoor heating (it was mid-winter) and the fireplace was down to embers by the time we got there, and it was only for one night anyway because they had no availabilities after that, so we had to stay with the totalitarian at his little cottage outside of NOWHERE, and at the last minute he forgot things he had to do the next day at his office so he dropped us in another little town with the phone number of a cab company and the key to his cottage. We had no car, grandpa had business to do so I couldn’t tell him to go x&*##&, there was literally nothing I could do to change things. Or maybe, I could have relaxed, relinquished control and, you know, que sera sera?
Jillian: Agreed. But wait a minute, Grandma. Isn’t there a time that being a control freak is a good thing? Like for instance if you’re writing a haiku? 17 syllables…five on the first line, seven on the second, five again on the third. You gotta have some control there, right? To follow those rules? I mean, you have to be strict, in control, no 18th syllable even if you want to.
Me: I think you’re on to something, girl. I’ll admit to being that kind of control freak.
Jillian: Works for me, too. So the next time someone accuses us of being control freaks…
Me: Write a poem about it?
Jillian: Or cop to it. Que sera sera.