The Syndrome

by Adam Acidophilus

A man and a woman went out on a date. They had met only days before. He was ambitious; she was beautiful; love was in the air.

They dined in a costly, exclusive restaurant. The food was rather special. Music filled the silences, which were many.

“You seem to me an extraordinary person,” the man said to the woman.

“I am deep and complicated,” she assured him — pausing to light a black cigarette.

“Oh, we smoke the same brand,” smiled the man.

“No, they’re yours,” giggled the woman — returning the pack and the lighter — and the wristwatch.

He paid for the costly meal with an exclusive credit card. They left in his costly, exclusive car. As he ushered her into his costly and exclusive apartment — he could hear her handbag clinking as though it were filled with cutlery and crockery.

“What is that sound?” he asked her.

“Cutlery, crockery, glasses,” she smirked, turning out its contents. “Souvenirs of our evening! Your mobile telephone! My father’s ashes!”

She turned away in a deep and complicated flurry. They shagged like rabbits till dawn.

Early the next day he drove the woman to her home. But later he found the sheets were missing from his bed. And the appliances from his kitchen. And the artwork from his walls. He called the woman. “I think we need to talk.”

“Are you rather more deep and complicated than I might at first suspect?” he asked, a few minutes later in a dark and sophisticated bar.

“I am afraid I am,” she confessed.

“Have you got my car?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she whimpered.

“I wouldn’t mind ordinarily, but it’s mine, you see,” he told her softly.

She shook her handbag: car keys, appliances, compact discs and soaps fell to the floor.

“Are these my soaps?” he asked her.

“I’m afraid so, yes,” she whimpered. “Your clothes are in the boot of the car but I’ve put the paintings up for auction.”

“Why?” said the man.

“For a deep and complicated reason,” said the woman, “which I shall now explain.”

The woman explained — at very great length — how difficult her life had been: Her childhood, her student days, her early career. Pets had died, exams had been failed, a myriad of injustices had befallen her: distant relatives and figures from history had expired before her birth.

Indeed, so intense had been her loss that she had — at some considerable expense — embarked upon an analysis of her behaviour, and discovered that within her heart there lay a vacuum of infinite dimensions — that could only be filled by nicking loads of shit that didn’t belong to her.

“For I am a victim of a terrible syndrome,” she wept and she trembled and she sniffed. “I am a victim of the rare and incurable Object Deprived Syndrome.”

“Come my darling and dry your eyes,” the man replied quite warmly. “Oh, where the fuck is my hanky?”

All that night the woman recounted the trials she had endured: suddenly awaking from trances with pockets full of jewellery, bags full of banknotes, or at the wheel of a truck stuffed with cameras and hi-fi equipment.

And there were other trials too, with judges and juries and psychiatric reports and suspended sentences. “Thank Christ — ” she began, pausing for some minutes — “for the work of my wonderful therapist, and her team of advisors, and my personal assistant, and my hair team — and thank Christ I can afford them.”

“Indeed,” said the man. “Now can I have my shoes back?”

He decided to do his utmost to free this lovely woman from the chains of Object Deprived Syndrome. He bought her extravagant gifts to assuage her cravings. But the syndrome persisted; she would frequently ring him from various places of custody — and he would rush to her side, arguing and pleading with her captors.

“Our apologies sir,” the police would always tell him. “We had no idea that things were quite that bad.”

The woman used social media to contact other sufferers. A support group was started. Petitions were circulated.

“Show more understanding to the sufferers from Object Deprived Syndrome,” wrote the man; and his campaign bloomed with a round of interviews and personal appearances.

He publicised, he activised, he raised awareness of the curse of the Object Deprived Syndrome.

“Anybody might be Object Deprived,” he argued with panels of experts. “It knows no barriers, it shows no mercy. One moment one is normal — the next one is online shopping with another person’s credit card and having items delivered to a halfway house secured by an elaborate network of bribes and kickbacks. It could happen to any of us.”

And indeed, it did. Parents and children, literate and illiterate, people with televisions (but no one without) fell into the grip of the ghastly, frightening, indiscriminatory syndrome. Vicars stole from their collecting plates, doctors from their drug cupboards, politicians gave themselves high honours and executive positions.

“We cannot help ourselves!” they cried.

“Show us respect!”

“Treat us as we deserve!”

“Free all prisoners convicted of stealing! Ban all books that mention stealing! Ban prisons! Ban the police! Ban laws! Ban banning!” they reasoned. “For it offends us.”

The woman grew worse and suffered an on-air breakdown. “You see, I’ve also got Delayed Pet Grief Syndrome,” she sobbed. “Deferred Imperialist Grandparent Consciousness, Chronic Attention Requirement, Compulsive Sub-Literacy Disorder, Repetitive Pretending to be Offendedness . . . and I may be allergic to air . . .

“In fact, I’ve just been diagnosed with Syndrome Overload Syndrome.”

And she cried so much that everybody watching caught if off her.

The man took the woman on a holiday to escape these awful pressures. They journeyed to a land where the people were simple and untroubled. One morning, out shopping, the woman — compulsively — took a trinket from a bazaar. She was caught and arrested. ‘Syndrome’ wasn’t in her phrasebook.

And though she was allowed to make a phone call, she had unaccountably stolen her boyfriend’s phone again, which rang pathetically in her handbag when she dialled the number.

The boyfriend — presuming that the woman had merely lost interest in the relationship, and failing to notice details of her punishments in the newspapers — returned home without her, bought a new hi-fi, and never gave the matter another thought.

Moral: If you would like to help someone with Object Deprived Syndrome — just leave your front door open and wait a minute.

 

© Adam Acidophilus 2018