I just bought a new case to hold my compact discs, which gave me an opportunity to organize the pile in my closet.

I arranged them by genre, so when I feel like listening to a certain type of music, I know where to look.

Somebody looking for a specific CD in my collection would probably have no idea where to find it, as it follows a personalized system: those I used to have album versions of in high school, getting-ready-to-go-out music, mellow when-I’m-reading music.

Recently, I was perusing the sideways titles on my cousin’s shelves of CDs and was amazed by her system – they were arranged alphabetically. That really had never occurred to me before. Elvis next to Eminem just doesn’t feel right to me.

I think this translates into an allegory of life.

Some people know exactly what they’re looking for when they are seeking something, while others have a general idea of what they’re looking for and where to look.

To narrow it down further, it probably also symbolizes the search for a mate.

Some people know exactly what they’re looking for, down to the eye and hair color. Others have a sense of what they’re looking for, but can’t quite define it.

Neither one is better, but it does make me wonder what you can tell about a person from their CD collection.

It’s a good sign when you scope a potential suitor’s rows of CDs and they have several of the same titles as your own. (Of course if you do end up together, there’ll be a lot of duplicates, but that’s something I could live with).

Another good sign are CDs that you’ve considered purchasing, but haven’t yet. This signifies room for growth and development, especially if it’s a whole genre of music that you’ve always been curious about but never pursued.

Once I was dating a guy and after inspecting his CD collection, I realized it was never going to work out. John Tesh? Celine Dion? I don’t think so. I think we only had about five CDs in common.

The CD case I bought (which isn’t actually a CD case, but a storage unit from Ikea that I liked … does that mean anything?) double stacks the CDs, so the back row is hidden behind the front row.

This may be a good recommendation for men with ‘N Sync or Spice Girls CDs. It’s not necessary to know everything about a person when you first examine their CD collection, right? After you get to know them, maybe that will seem charming, but not right up front.

In my hidden tier are childhood favorites such as the “Annie” soundtrack and “Rick Springfield’s Greatest Hits.” But I’m not embarrassed – I would reveal the second tier to the right person.

Diversity is a good sign. If somebody only has one type of music available, no matter what type it is, that can be downright frightening. Only rap? Only classical? Only ’80s music? Any one of those choices should send a warning sign.

Also, proceed with caution with somebody who owns a whole stack of CD singles – if they can’t commit to buying a whole CD and taking a chance on the unknown, that must mean something.

Those with many compilations are a mixed bag. On one hand, they’re creative music lovers – if the compilations are homemade – and probably have many interests. On the other hand, they could also have the CD single complex.

I’m probably overanalyzing the importance of a person’s musical choices, but if life truly is an allegory of compact disc organization, what does it mean if somebody has all their CDs in the wrong cases?

This first appeared in the Sept. 6, 2002 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.