The world is divided into people who like symmetry and those that don’t care

Yesterday my husband put the following status on facebook:

We had one egg left when the Sainsburys delivery arrived. I was secretly pleased to find a broken egg in the new box because it left me with an even number again.

There’s no hope, is there?

Does this make you anxious?

Does this make you anxious?

This status generated 24 comments (a nice even number) concerning his mental health and the pros and cons of even vs odd.

Or does this make you anxious?

Or does this make you anxious?

He likes symmetry (in eggs and other things). He likes even numbers. He likes straight lines. He likes clear spaces. He wants his socks in pairs. He likes his t-shirts to be perfectly ironed and neatly arranged, evenly, in the drawer (he would be employee of the year if he worked for GAP). If I let him iron my tights and fold them neatly, he would.

To him, cushions, like eggs, should come in even numbers and there should only be two of them, evenly spaced on the sofa. Just as he can’t cope with there being a fewer or greater than even number of eggs in the egg box, he likes the cushions to be partnered.

Neat cushions

Neat cushions

If a room in a building leans to the side, he feels queasy. We used to live in a 300-year old house. He was surprisingly tolerant of its wonkiness.

As for me, I love wonkiness. I loved our 300-year old house and it’s quirks. I think there aren’t enough cushions in the world and they should be allowed to fall any which way, the more sporadic the better. As for eggs? I don’t even notice whether we have an odd or even number of eggs left.

Messy cushions

Messy cushions

His clothes are arranged logically and neatly. My wardrobe looks like a jumble sale.

Neat t-shirts

Beautifully ironed t-shirts

So in response to his facebook status, my weird thought today is twofold.

Firstly, are there people who sit between these two extremes (and I do think we are both quite extreme in this regard)? Can you be a little bit tidy or a little bit messy?

Spot the messy person's wardrobe

Spot the messy person’s wardrobe

Secondly, are we attracted to each other’s opposites as an acknowledgement that we don’t feel entirely comfortable with our ‘funny ways’? Are we, by living together, trying to find a place somewhere in the middle? In other words, are we both in fact quite self-aware of the deviance in our personalities? Perhaps we are looking for the other to help loosen / tighten us up. I think this is the case. I know that he gets frustrated at my ‘funny ways’ at times but I also know that he still finds them endearing (or at least I hope so). I find his love of order very admirable and I see that some of it, over the years, has rubbed off on me (although I do have the fight the urge to swap his socks around just for fun).

I haven’t yet got to the stage where I write cheque stubs but I do think that writing a shopping list is A Good Idea.

Eggs are on the list

Eggs are on the list

As for eggs? I’ll try to care more, or at least hide the odd egg from him if we are uneven to save him from anxiety.




  1. Actually, the green velvet cushion also belongs on the sofa, in the middle between the other two cushions.

    I used to hate taking a bath in our three hundred year old bathroom because the loft hatch in the ceiling wasn’t square, nor were any of its sides aligned with any of the walls, nor were any of the walls at right angles to each other. I couldn’t stop staring at the imperfections all the time I was sat in the bath.

    Both of your pictures of egg boxes trouble me in ways I can only begin to describe.

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