Obsessive-Compulsive Customs

This is what happens when you haven’t shaved since Christmas.


Yes, my face has all but disaBEARD. Aside from causing occasional difficulty when eating mess-prone foods, my evolving jaw fur has been nothing but rainbows—from the silent amusement it brings when friends can’t help but double-take, to the private joy my bathroom mirror beholds when I step out of the shower looking like a wet Scottish Terrier, to the fuzzy humor strangers hurl at me, like that sarcastic fellow who drove by me the other day and honked “Hey, Jesus!” as I was out walking my beard.

Lucky for him, my laughter and scorn were concealed beneath a curtain of stoic whiskers. His remark did prompt a daydream, however: a fancy of donning a crown of thorns, white robe, and sunglasses, standing in front of the Hollywood sign with a massive cross propped in my sidecar, charging tourists for photos.


Apparently, I wasn’t the only bearded guru on the road that fair day with visions of bilking passers-by. Moments after being accosted by the Jesus heckler, I was approached by a man in a turban with a thick Indian accent. He introduced himself as a face-reader. Honing in on my scruffy muzzle and advancing forehead, he volunteered a few positive personality predictions. He then offered to council me through some mystic turmoil that my features supposedly bore… for a small fee, of course.

From Jesus to mug-reading parking lot prophets, I wonder if these sorts of souls actually believe they have superpowers, or do they merely have faith in the credulity of fellow mammals? I’m not sure which is worse, but I suppose that both clergy and congregation alike suffer from a form of OCD; a belief that by ascribing meaning to ritual, they can wield control over that which is uncontrollable. Based on the abundance of psychic storefronts and media horoscopes, it’s a big club.


While I’m unimpressed by those who pretend to have supernatural knowledge, I also suffer from issues of control that often provoke equally bizarre habits.

A woman I dated years ago had a music stand in the center of her apartment. Hanging from the stand was a silver medallion; a sort of swinging necklace for the supported sheet music. Whenever I visited her, I was compelled to place the dangling medallion onto the lip of the frame from which it was strung. Each time, after I’d left, she’d drop the medallion back into the hanging position. This swaying vs. seated dance continued throughout our relationship. After a spell, she confronted me about my obsessive medallion meddling, which I was unable to stop since most of the time I was unaware I was even doing it.


Over the past few months, even my beard has provided a bit of an obsessive-compulsive playground. I’m constantly stroking it, hunting for inconsistencies. Unlike the hair atop my head, my cheek and chin sprouts an array of colors and textures—from fair to coarse to red to blonde, and even a few ominous gray arrivals. My favorite variety, however, are when a cluster of hairs fuse together and grow from a single pore. It gives me great satisfaction and a sense of control to find and pluck these wiry nonconformists.

As a motorcyclist, I’ve been introduced to many of the road rituals specific to the cult of two wheels, including superstitious guardian bells. Bikers hitch these thimble-sized, jingle-makers to their bikes as ringing representations of guardian angels watching over them as they ride.


I don’t believe in magic spells, beans, or bells, but I have two guardian ringers tied to my motorcycle. These protector chimes were gifts from people important in my life and I find their gesture and the symbolism comforting.

So… what strange rituals do you perform to get through the day? Palm reading? Numerology? Do you wear an assortment of charms? Do you refuse to wash a certain outfit because you’re afraid of breaking a perceived streak of fashionable luck? Do you have to eat food in a certain order or avoid stepping on cracks in the pavement? Have you observed others with strange tics or found instances where your behavioral quirks clashed with those of another? Spill your neuroses in the “Comments” section below.

  • Michael Russell

    I always cut open my finger when I get a new knife or finish sharpening my knife to sate it’s taste for blood while it is still sharp and will hurt least. It makes it where the knife won’t cut you until you sharpen it again.

  • Brigitte Sharai

    I’m sitting here giggling at all the beard jokes, getting strange looks from the lobby guest… No different than any other day. Yesterday I was caught staring intently at my bacon while slowly moving it around in a weird pattern (They didn’t understand I was looking for the source of a dot of light). Anyway, I’ve never heard of putting a bell on a bike… I like that idea, granted I love tiny bells as well (if my cat collar collection speaks for that at all). However I highly doubt my boyfriend would allow me to attach one to his… Oh well I’ll just have to get my own damn bell for my own bike :3

  • Miriam Inmaculada López Martín

    Well. I think you’re even cooler with your beard.
    I use to read the runes, as a religion’s tradition (I’m odinist). But just when I want to see the future.

    “More film’s wishes” from Spain. Hahahaha…. Really, all the best for you, Terrance.


  • Michael Russell

    A bell has to be a gift from a loved one, to buy it yourself means to scar off the angels of the road and bring forth the demons of mishap.

  • Chloe

    I have a kind of weird routine for getting to sleep at night without nightmares. I’ve never gone to see any kind of therapist or psychologist about it, but I only ever have the same two nightmares, over and over and over. I found that the best way to keep them at bay is to 1) make sure that my nail polish is always perfect–no run over onto my fingers, no chipping, the shape of my nails is perfectly symmetrical and even 2) writing a long rant (about conceivably anything) on a piece of paper and 3) making sure that my coffee pot is ready to go so I only have to turn it on when i get up. So long as I make sure that each of these happens before I head to bed, I sleep soundly and like a rock, even more so when I’m cuddled up to my myriad of stuffed animals (so what if I’m in college? I’m from Denmark and now I’m in America. It’s terrifying. Totally an excuse for stuffed animals).

  • Marissa Hayes

    I loved the smooth face of the Graverobber in Repo the genetic opera
    But the Beard is beautiful.
    My rituals are simple meditation, and cooking I’m a Chef
    And food is my passion. I can cook,almost, anything.
    It helps me get through my bad days, and add to great days.

  • Surrylda

    I say goodbye to my children as I’m leaving for work every morning even though they cannot hear me from their rooms. When seasoning foods I throw salt over my left shoulder. I consider it to be twice as lucky if I peg one of my kids behind me as I do it. I stir all things clockwise for good health. There is so much more to the world than we can see with our own eyes. Maybe we’re grooming our surroundings to treat us kindly. Maybe we’re soothing fears & wounds. Whatever it is, these rituals help in their own way. The world of spiritualism is real, science just hasn’t found an explanation for it all yet.

  • CuriousEM

    I don’t know when or how it began, but whenever I vocalize something significant, i knock on wood 3 times afterward. The significance could be something as simple as an unfulfilled wish or possibly a fact I wish to remain unchanged (ex. whenever telling someone I’ve never had a speeding ticket). The knocking isn’t even a conscious thought anymore though I do recognize it comes from a superstitious fear of jinxing myself.

  • Amanda Giese

    I can’t stop looking at the beard. As much as I miss his face, I must admit that is beard that should be respected. Awesome.
    No rituals. However, I tend to avoid certain circumstances that may cause me to end up in a horror movie. No, I will not stick my hand in a place that I cannot see. No, I am not going outside to look because you heard a creepy noise. No, if I see a creepy person staring through my window, I will not run immediately run upstairs and trap myself. I have seen that horror movie, and it results in death.

  • jamee

    Before I go to sleep at night I have to check that I’ve set my alarm about a dozen times before I’m convinced that its on and that I won’t end up rolling out of bed at 3pm the following day, bleary-eyed and disoriented. Perhaps I’m secretly at war with my own memory. Hmm.

  • Jasmine Long

    Hmmm… I’m not sure if this counts as some sort of obsession or ritual, but whenever making art that’s heavily process oriented, like working in the dark room or printmaking, I always have a specific order I do things in, use the same specific tools because it makes me feel better and also like my project will turn out better because of my order and chosen tools. Not the coolest, but that’s what I got. :)

  • Dizzy

    I thought the rule was you have to be the first person to bleed on your knife or it wasn’t really yours. Something about knowing what it could really do. Mind you if that is right and you have to be the first person damaged by a new weapon imagine all the trouble gun owners would be in… ><

    The only superstition I really follow is if I don't have coffee in the morning it's going to be a bad day, though this could be plain ol' drug dependency

  • Sierra

    So I love the beard but I’d much rather have my smooth faced Graverobber/Lucifer if you don’t mind.

    I’m really OCD: I work at a Wendys in Colorado and we have dipping sauces for our chicken nuggets. In the little holders for the sauces in our drive thru, they have to be at A) an even number in the box they get delivered in B) an even(or as even as possible) in the sauce holder things, and C) if there are two rows of a sauce like BBQ, those have to be perfectly even with each other, with exactly the same amount. Same with napkins and lids: those have to be at an even level. It drives me CRAZY when people either A) don’t care about how much they’re stocking or B) purposely over stock to annoy me.
    I also do not wear matching socks, except for when they are black. Black socks are okay to match but otherwise… I cannot match my socks period. It’s ‘bad luck’ for me to do it. I very rarely wash my sweatshirts, and I dislike it when people add things to their orders, especially in drive thru, when their total comes out to be $6.66 (I see 666 as a sort of lucky number for me, as well as 13)

  • Sierra

    Also: it’s a bad bad thing when I don’t have caffeine through out the day. A) I get a migraine and B) well things usually go wrong when I haven’t had AT THE MINIMUM one cup of coffee and a little bit of Mountain Dew or Cherry Coke.
    Cheers and Testify!

  • Carbacs

    i`m a dentist so all of my OCD goes to that, i usually spend 40 minutes seting up my work place at the start of the day and another 40 minutes putting everything back on its place every material has a specified location for use and for storing. some time ago i had a beard to and it was ridiculous how much time i spend triming and cutting small imperfection….. it was anoying actually, hope you dont have that problem

  • Ginger (MastersClan)

    Would love to see the whole bearded face… As I love beards. My husband has had one since before we were married.

  • Symphonie von Liebe

    Never, NEVER interrupt me, okay? Not if there’s a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home and one week later there’s a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you’re going to faint. Even then, don’t come knocking. Or, if it’s election night, and you’re excited and you wanna celebrate because some fudgepacker that you date has been elected the first queer president of the United States and he’s going to have you down to Camp David, and you want someone to share the moment with. Even then, don’t knock. Not on this door. Not for ANY reason. Do you get me, sweetheart?

  • Kellie Stewart

    My husband will watch his sports at the office. If they lose, he watches them at home. He follows this cycle until he figures out which location helps his team win and that is where he watches his particular sport until his team is out of the running or they have claimed the ultimate goal. We were at Sam’s club the other day and as we were walking in the parking lot, he turned to the side and spit. He NEVER spits on the ground, so I questioned it. He had spit because we just passed a vehicle sporting a bumper sticker of an opposing team. I laughed.

  • Symphonie von Liebe
  • Carly

    Well one small thing that I do every single day, at the end of the day is take a shower. I believe in good personal hygiene, however I feel that if I take a shower every day I wash away all of the good and bad juju that has stuck to me like hitch hikers as I stand in the water and mull about the complexities of life.

  • NorwegianGeek

    That is one hell of a beard. The beard is awesome, I love the beard.

  • Samantha Dutchie

    oh, Beard <3 ;)

  • http://acircusblog.blogspot.com/ Scully

    Wendy’s must be some crazy Hell Mouth because this exact total happened to me last week. I had to withhold my cackling long enough to tell the distraught cashier who suggested I add something to my order to change the total that I was, in fact, “good with that number”

  • Cricket

    Being a coffee aficionado, I always have to have an undertow (flavored syrup, soy milk or half-and-half, two or three shots of espresso, and sometimes whipped cream) within my first two hours of starting my shift. I down it just like a shot of alcohol and it’s a great jolt to help start my workday. Been trying to incorporate a nightly exercise routine into my schedule but so far, it’s not working so well.

  • Ragdoll2010

    Diggin the beard!

    I used to have a pendulum and a quartz crystal that I carried everywhere, but fiance took them one day…. let’s just say that my failure to retaliate granted me a LOT of good karma in the parking lot when I was working during Halloween and Christmas at the local mall (which is nigh impossible anyway). But eventually I’ll have to get a new one since he can’t find them.

  • Lexi

    I have to make the bed before we leave the house. This was actually passed down through a couple of generations. The day my grandfather died, my grandmother didn’t get a chance to make her bed. The day my uncle had two simultaneous heart attacks (but survived), my aunt begged my mother to go to her house and make the bed for her. Whenever my husband and I leave (but especially him) I MUST make the bed…

    Digging the beard. The husband rocks the connected ‘stache and goatee look.

  • Dani DeathBringer

    I have too many to name… love the beard.

  • Leah Byrnes

    That is a lovely beard ;3
    I don’t know of any ‘strange rituals’ that I perform, but I do need to read something and watch an episode of a good tv show before I feel good about my day. I also can’t stand it when people talk while I’m doing either so I have to be alone.

  • Naomi Censored

    I bite my hands. Have for years. I have huge scarred patches on my hands now. It’s very ugly. T_T
    … I’ve got to be honest, the beard ages you quite a bit… but considering that most of your interaction with fans is through text, I suppose it doesn’t much matter. Actually it gives you a bit of an Obi-Wan Kenobi look, which is pretty sweet. :) Looking forward to your next creative endeavour, dear.

  • Ginger (MastersClan)

    And… Thank you!! Exceedingly handsome bearded as I knew you would be! ;)

  • Jessica

    I’m a groomer. Popping a pimple is strangely satisfying to me. My face often suffers for it, as well as the backs of my partners. They’re usually cool with it though

  • Catitia Rowe

    “Spill your neuroses in the comment section,” huh? Alright, let me just write you a fucking essay. Hahaha. I’ll spare you the headache and give you just a few.
    - I can never NOT move. If I’m sitting down, for example, I’m always bouncing my leg or fidgeting in some other manner. It drives my friends batshit sometimes. Even when I’m trying to sleep, I’ll be moving my leg or something. It’s ridiculous. Hahaha.

    - I eat pizza really fucking weirdly. I have to pick the toppings off, eat those first, THEN eat the crust like a normal human being.

    - I absolutely can’t functionally exist in a crowded, confined space for more than a couple of hours.

    There are so many more, fucking hell. Haha. But that’s to name a few.

  • Luri Destine

    Jude, sometimes I think I can love everything you do… from cockroaches to your beard.

  • thecymbalwench

    Your beard is marvelous, sir. Thank You for once again sharing Your facial hair adventures here.
    …My husband and I used to make a game of finding split ends in his beard. We’d pull on the split halves of said hairs like a wishbone, seeing how far We could pull them apart before one of the halves came off.

    …I admit that I have a few little rituals revolving around the number four, and I cannot explain why they started or why I continue. It started in high school, setting my morning alarm at a number ending in four (6:24 a.m., for instance), and it’s grown to include counting things and dividing things by multiples of four whenever/however I can.

    …Having the occasional need to employ counting as an anti-anxiety technique, I’ve modified the usual “count to 10″ to a count-down from 17. Again, I can’t explain why this number presented itself to me as an alternative, but it works nicely. One time while using this trick, a certain REPO! song popped into my head; and while “Seventeen” happens to be one of my least favorite songs, it has become fairly effective in helping my brain to tell anxiety to fuck off.

  • arivalscientist

    You better watch where you’re walkin’……..Zac Efron might throw a bottle at you….lol

  • Chelsea Rothfuss

    My odd OCD compulsion is fixing my necklace. I always wear this necklace, even when I sleep. So, naturally when I wake up it is a tangled mess of silver around my neck. I turn the clasp to the back of my neck, and have the charm on my chest. That usually occurs multiple times a day once I realize my mojo is off.

    By the way,
    That facial hair is dope. :3
    You should keep it.

  • Emily

    I have to have candles burning whenever I am home. Some nights I’ll have 7+ candles burning. I find it soothing. I’ve started burning them at my boyfriend’s home as well because I’m there so much.

  • Maddi King

    I have awful OCD, every time there’s a full moon I put salt on the doorstep, and an iron chain on the headboard of my bed, and I can’t sleep if my bedroom isn’t clean. The Jesus idea cracked me up. My cousin went through the same phase, although he looked more like a hobo than Jesus.

  • Leticia Castaneda

    THAT is a lush beard. I’m jealous.
    I have a relatively pedestrian set of compulsions that I go through every day, but nothing too sexy. Unless you count working out every morning as sexy, and I decidedly do not.
    On occasion when listening to somebody talk, I’m compelled to count the letters of the words they’re saying by tapping my fingers against my palms. It helps me focus on what they’re saying better.

  • Emma

    There are many keys to overcoming my hard times, and they are all in a row. My hands often itch to play the piano, and when that happens I usually will venture out to find one. If that is not a possibility, I find my fingers tapping silent patterns.

  • Nightingamer

    My certain little thing that I have is really Zodiac Horoscopes. I wake up every morning before I go to school and turn on my phone, and read what my horoscope is going to be for the day, regardless how it actually turn out.
    Another thing, when I want a particular thing that I want luck on a day, like money or love, then I will wear a good luck stone, like Onyx or Rose Quartz respectivly.

  • Ren

    the beard is beautiful, sir!
    (and good god, do i spy freckles? i didn’t know it was possible for terrance to get any more adorable.)
    and, i always have to have my amethyst rings on me, both for my energy balancing and the general comfort that comes with wearing them.

  • Cariann

    I have a few. Every time I go to St.Augustine I wear the hibiscus oil I bought ten years ago plus I wear a crystal necklace from the same store. I shower in the same order everyday, put my shoes on right to left(as well as my makeup
    ), if I’m stressed and start cleaning I always start with the bathroom followed by the bedroom and save the kitchen for last, I crack my knuckles starting from the largest part then working my way down and if there is a thunderstorm I refuse to look at any reflective surface.

  • me

    Love, love the whiskers!!! Try as I might I cant seem to grow any whiskers of my own. Oh, I forgot, I’m a female. I think facial hair is extremely attractive. I cant stand this thing about men shaving their entire body. Ewwwwwwwww
    I cant really think of any rituals I have for luck or such, I just try to be positive as much as possible.

  • Rae Leen

    Hi, first time caller here… my fatalistic neurotic behavior would have to be anytime I happen upon a catholic church. Mind you I live in a close to totalitarian city of religious obsessed citizens, I find myself without fail signing the cross that travels from north to south and left to right… like a good catholic girl should do right? LOL Funny thing is…. I’m pagan…. now aint that a kick in the proverbial ass? BTW dig the beard :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/valerie.wardle Valerie Wardle

    When I was younger I had a problematic relationship with food. I existed on puffed rice cakes, and I would make one last for two hours, circling around the outside. Certain foods still inspire fear in me for no reason. Milk, for instance, always just seemed like a waste of a drink. Why not upgrade to a White Russian?
    Hope you keep rockin’ the soup-saver, beard boy. It’s gorgeous!