Recently, I TiVo-ed an episode of My Crazy Obsession, which is essentially My Strange Addiction but with a more judgmental title.
The episode I watched featured a married couple obsessed with Cabbage Patch Dolls. The couple has spent over $1 million buying, maintaining, and housing their collection of 5,000 dolls. The Cabbage Patch-crazed couple has squandered, whoops I mean spent, over $2,000 for a backyard amusement park for their 'kids.' The park includes a hot-air balloon that sends Cabbage Patch dolls into the sky. (Oh, if only I could be there hiding in the bushes with a bow and arrow.)
Truthfully, I was appalled watching the show. Think of all this couple could have been accomplished with $1 million! Seriously, if you won $1 million in the state lottery, would you immediately jump onto eBay and do a keyword search for Cabbage Patch Kids?
But the show got me thinking. I suspect, if cross-examined by a district attorney, each of us would confess (perhaps in tears, for dramatic effect) to a crazy obsession. So here's my confession:
I'm obsessed with hotel toiletry mini bottles. Actually, let me be more precise: I'm obsessed with stealing hotel toiletry mini bottles.
I'm not entirely clear when this obsession began, or from which of my neuroses it stems. If I had to guess, I'd say the obsession combines my love of several things.
My Crazy Obsession with Hotels
I love, love, love to stay in hotels.
As a kid, I longed to travel but rarely got the opportunity, which may be the root cause of my hotel lust. On the few occasions when my family and I would actually stay in a hotel or motel, it was the Downtowner Motor Inn in Manassas, Virgina, near which my eldest sister and her family lived. During our Downtowner stays, I was crazed with delight. Perhaps in my fervor, I swiped a little bar of soap, thereby launching my life of crime. I can't be sure. I do recall my family was banned from staying at the motel after my sisters and I raced and screamed down the hallways like the kids fleeing the schoolhouse in The Birds.
Miniatures and Why I Love Them
I love miniatures of things. Why do I love miniatures? Maybe it goes back to my days as a kid, playing endlessly with Matchbox cars. Regardless of the origins of this obsession, it continues today. I have a miniature of my Mini Cooper on my desk, which I suppose means I own a Mini Mini.
The other day, when shopping for birthday cards in a gift shop, I came
across a small box containing tiny martini glasses and a cocktail
shaker. I wondered if the martini glasses would fit in my miniature
Mini, so I could create a teensy "Drink and Drive" tableau? Years ago, during my Titanic craze, I purchased a miniature blow-up Titanic, which of course came with a small blow-up iceberg. I put the items to good use one Halloween by affixing them to a white hat and christening myself "Shipsinka."
A Kleptomaniacal Kid
As a kid, I loved pinching candy from the grocery store. But before you alert the authorities, please be assured my kleptomania is apart of my distant past--until I'm confronted with an unattended housekeeping cart in a hotel, that is.
In that moment, something comes over me. I scheme, my heart pounds. I case the hallway, trying to determine where there may be maids or hotel guests lurking. I calculate which cart is a) closest to my room and b) farthest from the main traffic areas (like the elevator). Briefly, I stand next to the cart, trying to differentiate between shampoo and conditioner. I don't really use conditioner often, so why steal something I don't need? I mean, one must be practical.
I walk back to my room as casually as possible, pockets bulging, and deposit my bounty. In extreme circumstances, such as during a stay last year at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, I go back--and back, and back--for more.
The Drake, which is part of the Hilton chain, now offers Peter Thomas Roth toiletries that are unique to the Hilton chain. You can't even buy this stuff if you wanted! And so, by the time I'd sated my obsession, the housekeeping cart was nothing more than a pile of embers. I had amassed a cache of toiletries so large that even our friend Tim, who earned the nickname "Scofflaw," gasped when he saw it. I considered putting my loot in a box and asking the hotel concierge to ship it to me. I thought this might be pushing my luck, however. So I took the box to a nearby UPS store and shipped them home myself.
Have I used these toiletries? A little. But the vast majority sit nicely organized into plastic shoe drawers from the Container Store, a store with which I'm kind of obsessed.
As I write this, I realize I've revealed more than one crazy obsession. In fact, I think there are enough here to keep a SWAT team of psychotherapists busy. But obsessions are what make people interesting, right? Obsessions are the fertile soil in which eccentricity blooms, and my goal is to one day grow into a genuine Southern/San Franciscan eccentric.
Now enough about me. Let's pretend you're under cross-examination by a district attorney. What are your crazy obsessions and why? And where were you on the night of January 16th?