The Lesser of Two Weevils (OCD Memoir Part 1)

It is an irrefutable reality that once seen, an occupying weevil in one’s Alpine muesli cannot then be un-seen.

When I was a child we lived on a boat. It wasn’t a yacht. It was definitely a boat. People who have yachts have lots of money or want you to think they do. I think my parents referred to it as a yacht sometimes, to hob-nob with posh people or elevate their status, after someone had judged them for wrenching their kids from school to travel the world on a…boat.

But this story is not about boats. It’s about weevils.

We lived in a little Caribbean cove, encircled by a reef, and we rowed ashore each day to work or buy food, etc. The local shop sold imported canned and packaged goods. It was always a gamble buying packet goods. They would often have been on the shelf for months and have become home to weevils.


Weevil: A herbivorous beetle of the Curculionoidea superfamily. The dark brown adult may grow to 6 millimeters. The smaller juvenile (the lesser of the two, if you will) is off-white in colour.


Predictable weevil pun. (Image:
Predictable weevil pun. (Image:

I imagine, from an evolutionary perspective, the juvenile weevil’s colour was designed to protect it in the same way that babies are born cute so that we choose to cuddle them rather than eat them or throw them on the fire when we run out of wood. Weevils can’t ever really be cute and whilst it would take an enormous number of them thrown on a fire to provide an alternative fuel source, they spend their awkward youth camouflaged in rice, flour and the like, where they are generally left alone.

As a child I developed an obsessive-compulsive way of being in the world and leaving things alone was not my forte. A weevil that found its way into my cereal bowl of a morning was not a fortunate weevil. I scrutinised my food with pathological precision. I could break down the constituent parts of any meal in seconds, to identify potential hazards, like an elite bodyguard conducting a security sweep on a presidential suite. My task was to control a list of variables that might represent a hygiene threat.

Hygiene Threats:

  • Poorly washed cereal bowl (Encrusted food particles on rim, etc.)
  • Human hairs
  • Finger prints
  • Cockroach larvae (Less common, but anxiety-provoking when found)
  • Weevils

My genuine hope was always for a clean sweep. I knew that my surveillance operations caused tension at the meal table, but the threat was ever-present and complaisance was not an option. It is an irrefutable reality that once seen, an occupying weevil in one’s Alpine muesli cannot then be un-seen.

These unfortunate siblings have just discovered weevils in their pasta. (Image:
These unfortunate siblings have just discovered weevils in their pasta. (Image:

Any idiot can spot an adult weevil in their cereal. You just have to pour the milk and watch the dark specks float to the surface, framed by the pale liquid, like stars in a night sky. But it takes a keen eye and an advanced state of anal-retention to foil the tiny, white juveniles. They might evade the scrutiny of an inexperienced operative, but not me.

My exhausted mother would watch, through gritted teeth, as I painstakingly fished out the reluctant amphibians, large and small, lining them up around the rim of my cereal bowl, like the decapitated heads of my enemies, impaled on the ramparts of my fortress walls.

As a child, I was always aware of the distress caused by my obsessive compulsions, but felt helpless in the face of their power. I was a youth-work student in my late twenties before I learnt about something called obsessive-compulsive disorder and began to understand why I was the way I was.

But that’s a story for ‘Part 2’. This was a story about weevils.

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