I am weird about inanimate objects. It started when I was a kid, with Cheerios. I always felt compelled to finish every single one in my bowl, not because I was hungry or because I didn't want to waste food, but because I imagined that the Cheerios were all related, and that if I left one or two or sixteen alive and ate the others that would be cruel. What if I separated a baby Cheerio from his parents? Best to just let them all reunite in my tummy, I reasoned.
I prescribed similar human feelings to my stuffed animals. Over the years I amassed five or six, and since I could only sleep with one comfortably I made up a schedule and rotated them every night so that none would feel neglected, even though my secret favorite was my Pound Puppy, Harold. (When I brought Harold to college with me I still felt guilty about abandoning the others, and when I quickly decided that a Pound Puppy had no place in my dorm room, I agonized over my decision to stuff Harold into a cardboard box in my closet. I felt just like the grandma in Flowers in the Attic, only I didn't leave Harold any siblings to have gross incest sex with. My junior year I tried to clean him in the washing machine and he came out with only one eye. Soon after his seams started to rip open. Now he lives in a box at my mom's house. It's like Harold is starring in his own personal version of Hostel.)
Last week I got on the train to go to work. The train was packed except for one seat, which was occupied by a single Mento (is that the singular of Mentos?). This happens all the time in New York: someone will leave a candy wrapper or a newspaper on their seat and everyone else will let it be, opting to stand as if the newspaper might have herpes or be wired to a remote detonator. I mean, I get the 9/11 paranoia; I still get freaked out by paper bags left beneath seats. But a Mento seemed pretty harmless. I picked it up and held it for the remainder of the ride (if I had put it in my bag, odds are 99% I would have found it months later, thought it was mine even though I haven't purchased Mentos since 1996, and eaten it) and threw it away when I reached my stop.
It only just occurred to me that the Mento might have been riding the subway for the first time, on his way somewhere, when I thoughtlessly kidnapped him and then disposed of his body.
There's probably some kind of medication for this.
P.S. "Pathetic fallacy" is the actual medical term for people who treat inanimate objects like they have human feelings, but it seems a tad judgy, no?
P.P.S. Hot Probs answer blog coming soon!