Each episode, Along for the Ride brings you America through another pair of eyes. We start with writer Amy Wilensky because a quirkily fascinating perspective like Amy's is exactly what Alice Winkler and I had in mind when we first conceptualized the show. In Amy's hands, a found penny is not just lucky, it's lifesaving. In Amy's eyes, a grocery store is not merely a place to purchase food; it's a museum where she pays daily homage to the gorgeous shapes, colors, sizes and textures on display every day.
I can't really remember why I picked up Amy Wilensky's book, Passing for Normal, A Memoir of Compulsion. It may simply be that I'm intrigued by the idea of passing - passing for white, passing for straight, passing for adult or, in Amy's case, passing for someone who doesn't have OCD and Tourette's.
But once I started reading I was propelled from the first paragraph to the last by her precise, almost rhythmic writing and the determination and humor with which she tells her story. Amy likes to say that the most prominent positive characteristic of an obsessive-compulsive person is an ability to throw themselves completely into their projects. Amy wants us to know something about the experience of life with OCD and Tourette's. She insists on it. And you know what? After reading her book we do have some idea.
Many of Amy's obsessions center on food, which is what brought her to Steven Jenkins. Steven Jenkins is America's foremost expert on cheese. He is also the manager of the cheese department at the Fairway Supermarket in NYC, Amy's favorite grocery store. She explained her admiration for the Fairway cheese displays and her desire to meet their creator in an early email:
"...I am not too starstruck to realize [that cheese] is to many people something they rarely notice between two pieces of bread. When I visit Fairway's cheese counter, however, I sense greatness--kind of the way some people must feel gazing in a case at Tiffany's."
Amy meets the man behind the Fairway temple of cheese and more on this episode of Along for the Ride.
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