Friday, December 10, 2010

Don't Change that Routine!

Robert is a creature of routine.  I suppose many of us are but I have always been fascinated by Robert's obsessive, bordering-on-OCD, routines.  Washcloths have to be laid out a certain way on the bathroom sink; deoderant has a certain place in his bathroom bag; drinks at dinner are lined up from orange juice on the left to coffee (decaf, please) on the right.  He's almost Rainman-esque (an old movie reference for you young-uns), in his compulsion to count.  In Robert's case, it's "diesel trucks" when in the car or the amount of bites it takes him to eat ice cream or the number of sips it takes to finish a cup of coffee. 

Robert loves the weather report.  The news comes on and he diligently writes down the expected high temperature for the next five days.  Robert will recite the current wind speed and direction to anyone who will listen. 

Robert knows that "Jeopardy" is on at 6:30 and "Wheel of Fortune" is on at 7:00.  It's TV Land at 7:30 and Channel 3 at 8:00 p.m.  Doesn't matter what is on at 8:00 on Channel 3, Robert just switches to that channel and watches whatever is on.  It could be "The Biggest Loser" or "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" -- Robert doesn't care as long as it is on Channel 3.  Every time Robert and I play cards he tells me the TV watching routine. He prompts me to change the channel when it is time if my fingers aren't fast enough.

Routine is important to Robert.  Probably has been critical in order for him to have been able to manage on his own for so long. 

So imagine my horror when I was visiting recently and Robert was watching TV Land at 7:10 p.m.  What in the world?  What is going on here?  Why is he watching "Sanford & Son" during "Wheel of Fortune?"  Is Fred Sanford particularly funny tonight and Rob can't tear himself away? Maybe there's a football game pre-empting his beloved "Wheel of Fortune" ("too bad he went bankrupt" is a common sentiment of Robert's while watching the show).  Obviously, something is interfering with his favorite show or he'd be watching it. 

"Hey, hon, how come you're not watching Wheel of Fortune?" 

Robert looked at me.  He looked at me for a very long time which means he is either thinking really hard about something or he is really mad at me.  I couldn't have made him mad so quickly so he must still be processing my question. 

"It's only on Sundays." 

It was my turn to look at Rob for a while.  I repeated my question.

He repeated his answer:  "It's only on Sundays." 

I started to freak out a little (on the inside, of course, because freaking out on the outside is so unproductive).  "I think it's on almost everyday, hon.  Let's take a look, okay?" 

I switched the channel to Wheel of Fortune and Robert was extremely shocked, letting out a loud "ohhhhh" and jerking his body back a bit.  (The kind of bodily response to surprise that completely explains the expression "knock me over with a feather").

We then watched "Wheel of Fortune."  Then TV Land.  And then Channel 3.  The usual routine.

The next night, I called Robert at 7:10 p.m. and casually asked what he was watching.  "Wheel of Fortune is on now," he politely explained to me (while clearly thinking what a ding dong I was for not knowing something so obvious).

Phew.  The routine appears to be back on track.  For now.  I suspect there will be more days like this -- his brain scrambling the routines he has diligently followed for years.

On the bright side, the worst that could happen (for now anyway) is he'll start watching some TV shows he doesn't usually get to watch.

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