Lucille: Whoever's behind this whole thing has his connections right in the department. Any leads?

Marv: One guy I talked to told me it was Roark running the show.

Lucille: Whoever it is, he knew I was checking out that hooker almost before I did.

Marv: What hooker?

Lucille: The one you've been obsessing over. The dead one. Goldie.

-- Sin City 2005

I don't quite understand these two sentences with the bold words.

Does did refer to "check out" or "know"? What does the sentence mean?

Why is obsessing over being used here? I think it should be you've been obsessed with/by.

According to the dictionary, obsess over means worry about something all the time. I don't think it applies here.

  • Without more context I would think that this did refers to talking (in I talked). I'm a little surprised about your confusion of obsessing over. I think the dictionary makes it clear that you should use obsess with about/over. – Damkerng T. May 23 '14 at 16:46
  • Sorry I just woke up. But "obsessing over" means "to worry about something all the time", which I think is not apt in that context. It's about worry, not fascination for that dead hooker. @Damkerng T. – Kinzle B May 24 '14 at 2:20
  • I think obsess(-ing over something) generally means being preoccupied (with something). Check out this definition: thefreedictionary.com/obsessed. They mean quite the same thing, either v.tr. or v.intr. – Damkerng T. May 24 '14 at 2:53
  • I'll buy that. So being preoccupied doesn't necessarily mean you are so fond of sth that you cannot stop thinking of it. Maybe you even loathe it so much that you cannot stop thinking of it, right? @Damkerng T. – Kinzle B May 24 '14 at 3:09
  • Yes, I think I agree with that. – Damkerng T. May 24 '14 at 3:10

Question 1: What does "did" stand for?

I agree with you that in principle "did" could stand for either "know" or "check out". But let's examine what makes sense in this context:

  1. "he knew I was checking out that hooker almost before I checked her out"
  2. "he knew I was checking out that hooker almost before I knew"

In my opinion, the first option doesn't make sense because of the tenses: "checked out" implies the action was over, whereas "was checking out" implies the action was in progress.

The second option makes sense when understood as "he knew I was checking her out, even before I realised I was checking her out".

Question 2: "obsessed over" vs "obsessed by/with"

Both are possible in this context. Note, however, that whereas "obsessed over" is a verb, "obsessed by/with" is an adjective. The meaning is essentially the same:

  • The one you've been obsessing over.
  • The one you've been obsessed with.

All are correct. Obsessing over tends to indicate a more sinister obsession. Whereby obsessed with or obsessed by is less nefarious or harmful

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