Just because I’m neat and tidy people have often times called me anal-retentive. I guess they think I’m keeping all of the poop inside me so that I don’t make a big mess all over the place. They fail to notice, however, that I make trips to what is called a bathroom or restroom (depending on whether I am in a domestic or public setting) to release the (emotional?) baggage they like to think that I have been carrying with me since childhood. So, the simple reason that I don’t have mounds of crap all over the house isn’t because I am retaining waste, but that I deposit the waste in the proper receptacle.
Spending any time with certain ones of this inclination should make one wonder if they indeed realize that there is a toilet in the house, and if they know what it is all about. Many of these ones, it seems, are teaching their children to be “anal-expressive” or “anal-distributive”. Some even seem to think it is natural and thus harmless. A dog won’t defecate in its own home, a cat covers up its fecal “expressions”, but your 3 year old turd-factory “drops a deuce” on the floor and you race for the video camera. Maybe you should teach your offspring to be a bit more “anal-selective” or just teach him that there is a porcelain target in the john.
While all of that is irritating the natural evolution of speech has emboldened these wordsmiths to raise the bar, so to speak, and make this concept even more horrifying by truncating it. This isn’t just your mothers anal-retention anymore. You’re ANAL. No, nothing else, you are just anal.
What could that possibly mean? Dictionary(MW) (look up anal) def #1: “of, relating to, situated near, or involving the anus”. Well, how closely situated to an anus does one need to be? I happen to have one on my person, is that close enough? Does that make me anal? I would like to think that it might have to do with a specific anus other than my own. In that sense I am what you would call anal-rejective, I would flee from said anus so as not to be associated with it in any way. Of course, if this refers to each persons proximity to ones own anus, then we must all be anal, which seems to negate any value the word would have as a descriptor.
Well, the loving, accommodating, adaptive and downright useful dictionary has seen fit to absorb yet another cherished colloquialism into its universal repertoire even going so far as to equate the word anal with neatness. However, in the Webster’s New International Dictionary Circa 1909, there is no such reference.
I also have a 1957 Dictionary (TB) that includes only 1 definition: “of, or near the anus”
This is a great point to remember for those who think the dictionary is an authority on language. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! The dictionary is a record of common usage. It doesn’t tell us how to properly use words, it tells us how they are currently being used.
What do you say back to someone who calls you “anal”? There is a hyphenated word for such people, and that word is anal-compulsive. These anal-compulsives exhibit symptoms that are very much like the most well known feature of Tourette Syndrome, blurting out words that are really quite inappropriate, but they go one further, they do it to make you think you have the problem. Looking in at their pathetic state, it is easy to see what is happening. They are situating themselves closer to the anus, thus becoming more anal.
All of this mental manure was spread by people obsessed with Freud’s idea of an anal stage of psychosexual development. According to Freud, there is an oral, anal, and phallic stage that children go through.
To snorbp a quip from Wikipedia’s Anal-Retentive write-up: Freud believed that conflicts with parents and delays during toilet training can cause a child's development to stop at the anal stage, the personality then becoming fixated on anal control, which later manifests itself as a compulsive concern with order and cleanliness. A developmental delay at this stage is therefore called anal-retention.
I hope nobody starts calling me phallic, but that might still be better than anal.
I read quite a bit of Freud when I was a kid, and although it is very interesting reading, I’ve always thought of it as science fiction. Although, I must say that it is beginning to seem more correct as society degenerates around us, with people becoming more reactive and animalistic. Overall, though, I thought of Freud as an ass, the sort of ass with an anus that I had no desire to be situated near, so I had to stop reading.