Meet my neighbor, Mr Monk

I am not a perfectionist.  Never have been, never will be, and if you know me at all you know this very well…….maybe a little too well.

I prefer the ‘artistic’ approach to things, dislike straight lines in general, and will purposefully color a bit outside the box if given the opportunity, because I find that beautiful and freeing.  I am drawn to imperfect smiles and have been known to deliberately choose what some might consider asymmetrical design.   Take what you will from this admission, but that is the long and short of it.

As such a person, imagine my mild horror when my soon-to-be neighbor led me to a dot the size of a pencil on my freshly painted wall, revealing the ‘frightful mess’ they had made of my home.

I stare. I see nothing but paint, nice looking, level paint on a wall.

“Um….Scott….I am sorry, but don’t see what you’re talking about.”


At this moment he points a lethal finger at the proposed fleck of paint, as if it has committed the crime of the century and deserves to die a horrible death.  With eyebrows raised higher than I knew eyebrows could go, his finger still planted next to the said dot, he awaits my realization that it truly is the end of the world as we know it.

No words, I have no words. But I must say something, he’s still staring at the wall with eyes as big as the moon.

I come closer to where he’s pointing and squint so I can see the thing.  Ah ha, there it is….I think.

Hmm. When I say this speck was the size of a pencil tip, I’m not talking about the eraser side, I’m talking about the tip. You know, the part you write with?

“Um…Scott, is this dot what you’re concerned about?”

“Well OF COURSE I am.  It’s a disgrace of unsaid measure.  Don’t worry though dear, I already reported it to the manager, they’re going to fix it. But, if I were you, I’d say something, things like this just shouldn’t happen.”

“Hmm…no..I suppose they shouldn’t…..but I’m sure things will turn out ok. You’re….ah….. really good at noticing these things. Something of a perfectionist?”

At this he lowers his hand from the wall and looks at the floor, mumbling something that sounds yes and nods his head slowly.

“Ah, that’s cool, I’m not one myself, but I’m glad there are people like you who can watch out for people like me, warning us of things like these this.”

I turn to point my finger at the fleck on the wall, but quickly realize I have no idea where it is and have no hope of finding it ever again on my own.   Not wanting to crush this dear old man’s spirits,  I wave my hand in the general direction instead and ask what he does for a living.

“Oh, I restore old guitars.”

He gestures past his front door and I peer inside.  The place is immaculate, just as I imagined it would be, a dazzling array of at least a dozen gleaming guitars distributed across each perfectly painted wall.

“Wow, your place is amazing.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve sanded down all my walls,  and I repaint at least once every six months.”

Ah….of course.

I wasn’t talking about the lack of invisible dots on the wall when I said his place was amazing, but decide not to correct him.  I see him honing in on one corner of the room rather intently.

“But THIS, this drives me absolutely nutty every day of my life. It is my nemesis, the first thing I see in them morning and the last thing that wanders through my brain before I fall asleep. “

He points to another dreaded dot on the wall, this one smaller than the one in my place. I’m only convinced it exists because he tells me so and am beginning to believe that he notices detail no one else ever sees. As he stares at the invisible invader of his home I can see him begin to become increasingly irritated.

 “Well, I can’t imagine anyone else really notices it Scott. You know, it’s pretty small.” 


Very slowly he pries his eyes away from the dot, only looking back at it over his shoulder a few times as he walks back outside with me.  I thank him for the very timely warning and wave goodbye.

I have to wonder why he chooses to leave that one spot on his wall. I mean, he’s sanded everything else down, why not take that out too?  I imagine it says a lot more than first meets the eye, no pun intended.  For him, that’s growth, a sign that his obsessive compulsive nature hasn’t gotten the better of him, not yet. He fights his battle every morning by leaving that dot where it is and, eventually, walking away from it.

I can’t help but admire that.

I just hope I don’t drive him crazy with the scattered array of flowers I let randomly play outside my front door, or the way my curtain doesn’t fall just so.   For all I know he’s writing his own story about the little wildflower girl next door who drives him berserk.

Ah, my dear Mr Monk, I think we shall get along splendidly.

Do you know what my favorite part of this picture is?  The little purple flower on the right. Oh, poor Scott.


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