You can add "folding clothes" to the growing list of obsessions. Turns out an entire generation that worked retail at Gap, Abercrombie, Old Navy and Banana Republic find the folding habit has been sharply creased into their brains.
The chairman of the advisory board for the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying he has treated people who have folding compulsions.
I think the folders have always been among us, they're just now getting their 15 flips of fame.
I once saw Martha Stewart fold a T-shirt in three quick moves. Two pinches, a flip and a tuck and the shirt was ready for display. I had to watch the trick four times in slow-mo before I got it, but it was worth the effort. Just like that I'd gone pro. Would you like that in a small, medium or large?
It was great entertainment at parties, and for two weeks our laundry looked so good I thought about hiring out. And then the fascination with perfectly folded T-shirts faded.
My mother-in-law was a nurse who served in World War II and could fold fitted sheets with a machine-like precision. She demonstrated the technique, which was to tuck the rounded edges into one another, time and time again.
I tried and tried, but when my fitted sheets are folded, they look like hamsters are running around inside them. They're so puffy I have to sit on them to get the air out to make them fit in the drawer.
A friend who grew up in West Berlin who is a third-generation folder. She learned to fold from her mother and grandmother, who used to insert tissue paper between their towels to keep the folds neat. We're talking Folders Anonymous.
Of course, everybody has their own particular way of folding towels to make them fit just so in a drawer or on a shelf. People can get downright testy about the right way to fold towels.
I imagine if a husband and wife had both worked retail and were stubborn enough about their different manners of folds, they could wind up in divorce court. The next thing you know, they are negotiating custody of the linens, alternating kitchen and bath towels every other weekend.
The people that get me are the non-folders that can drag 25 neatly folded garments into a fitting room, but can't carry a single one out. It is a great mystery of physics that once folded clothes are unfolded, and lying in a heap, they are suddenly too heavy to pick up.
I'd like to see stores catch those people and send them to folding school weekend mornings, 8 until noon, with nothing but a warehouse of T-shirts and khaki pants. With any luck, folding could turn into an obsession.
Experts say habitual folding is only a problem when someone feels compelled to fold or the behavior causes distress.
The key, in the words of Kenny Rogers, is, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em."