Life for Dummies This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 20, 2010
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
I first saw her in the self-help section. The glossy covers swallowed the fluorescent light but smiled, still allowing the glow to show through the teeth. I took a few tentative steps toward her and tried to watch her discreetly. Ironically, she looked completely lost.

Her green eyes flitted from cover to cover, her gaze scrolling along the bindings of every “For Dummies” book. She whined, hopping in place like a toddler with a full bladder. I couldn't contain my curiosity anymore. I felt it eating at my rib cage, demanding to know what she was doing.

“What exactly are you looking for?” I asked, peering over her shoulder. She did not jump, nor did she look at me. She continued to nibble nervously at her fingernails, scanning the books. I had to crane my neck to see around her massively messy hurricane of a hairdo.

“The ‘L' section,” came the answer. Her murmur sounded more like a distant wave, solitary and far away. I mentally generated a list of self-help books that could be located in the “L” section. Lacrosse for Dummies, Laminating for Dummies-

“Life for Dummies.” Her meek voice interrupted my thoughts. Startled, I watched her scanning the books.

“You don't look like a dummy.”

The girl dropped to her knees, squinting at the large font on the books. “Well,” she started, her voice a sarcastic whisper, “I'm glad my Looking Smart for Dummies wasn't a waste of money.” Scanning the books. I noticed that however many times her eyes darted back and forth across the shelves, she never touched any of the books. Her fingernails, all ten now, rested in between her teeth.

“Did you know that even though they were written by different people, the For Dummies books are always in alphabetical order?”

I shook my head. She could not see me. She mumbled something incoherent to herself that sounded like a garble of questions and complaints.

She dropped her hand and began fervently tapping her thigh. I asked why she needed a Life for Dummies book. To which she readily replied, “I suffer from CDO.”

“Don't you mean OCD?” I asked.

“Yes, but CDO is in alphabetical order.” She turned, looking at me for the first time. I had the sudden urge to leave. “The way it should be.”

And I could do nothing but fall to my knees and help her look for Life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 12 comments. Post your own now!

kennedyshine This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 6, 2015 at 10:06 pm
I've seen the CDO OCD joke before, but this still feels like a whole new idea. I always imagine people with minor OCD: people who just straighten pencils, or organize clothes by color, but I never really thought about how severe it can be for some people. Very good piece, it puts a lot in perspective
oliviajocson said...
Jun. 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm
Great job. Short and sweet! Love it. You write really well! Keep writing.
Alex_Mac said...
Apr. 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm
This was really good. You captured my attention right away. Keep writing!
lrshap said...
Oct. 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm
i've never heard the OCD CDO joke before and thought it fit perfectly, great story
leafy to lazy to log said...
Jun. 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm
nicely written, but im gonna have to with zwidon with this one. the joke is not that funny anymore.
inspiredbytheworld said...
Apr. 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm
It's beautiful and humorous. A true piece of excellent literature.
Zwidon said...
Apr. 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm
This is so well written it made me sad you felt the need to add in the OCD CDO joke. Its so old and kind of dumb. Make no mistake, i loved your story it was so well written it would have just been better if you hadn't submitted to the facebook joke.
caedanse said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm
I really like this, but I'm having trouble understanding the second sentence?
ArcaneGhost said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I love these short little stories.

However, I do not want you to add on to this, because you shouldn't mess with perfection. said...
Apr. 1, 2011 at 7:37 pm
This is awesome! I want to hear more!
EMOcupcake said...
Mar. 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm
This is cute, and perfect with the touch of humour. :3 Great job!
Healing_Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm
Short, satisfying and very well written! Well done! I really, really enjoyed this! Keep writing! :) 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback