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My Tic

Rusty - September 17, 2009

Some people have to crack their knuckles. Others need to rotate their glass before they drink. My close friend always counts stairs. David Sedaris licked mailboxes.

My tic? I step over imaginary lines.

No, not the sidewalk cracks that so many people avoid (seriously, only a lunatic would do that). What I’m talking about are the diagonal lines created by the square patch in which the tree lives (see illustration below):

What? You think you’re better than me and don’t do anything like this? Go on, keep avoiding cracks so you don’t break your mama’s back, tic-boy.


  1. I noticed a couple of weeks ago that I always do this little, subtle dance when I go through a doorway. As I open the door I do the same step-tap, step-tap routine.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — September 17, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  2. I thought I was the only one. But for me the imaginary lines are from corner to corner in the sidewalk rectangle, so each rectangle has an imaginary X in it. I don’t step on the cracks or the X. Unless I’ve just made out with Helen Hunt, in which case I just walk normal.

    Comment by Tom — September 17, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  3. My second pop culture reference:

    Rusty, there are dozens of us! DOZENS!

    Comment by Tom — September 17, 2009 @ 8:47 am

  4. Wow. I’ve never heard of avoiding imaginary lines. I do lots of wacky stuff. I’ll have to think about it a while to decide which one I will share with the public.

    Comment by ESO — September 17, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  5. You know Rusty. They have medication for stuff like this. :)

    Comment by JA Benson — September 17, 2009 @ 9:59 am

  6. I spend most of my time breaking unwritten rules… I’ve got no time for your imaginary lines.

    Comment by norm — September 17, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  7. i “finger spell.” i don’t physically do it anymore, but i still do it in my head. i write out, in cursive, three connected words, each three times. she-he’s-he or ate-at-eat. they-them-the. mom-non-wow. there are dozens of them. i’ve always felt a strong kinship to john forbes nash, but without all of the schizophrenia. my mom said she used to do the same, but on a typewriter in her head. and her mom used to do it with her index finger in the air. bizarre.

    Comment by makakona — September 17, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  8. It sounds like makakona is the latest in the line of the women who invented writing. I hope you have a daughter so this gift to mankind won’t be lost.

    Comment by John Mansfield — September 17, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  9. Rusty:

    I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but Teurets syndrome is the best tic of all time! of all time!

    Comment by Matt W. — September 17, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  10. Lol Matt!

    Rusty, I crack my knuckles AND count stairs (though not necessarily at the same time). I at least like to know whether the number of stairs is odd or even, because that determines whether or not I should skip the first step when ascending.

    Taking stairs two at a time is more comfortable for me. If there are an even number of steps and I start on the first step, by the time I reach the top I will have taken one more step than was strictly necessary. Waste not, want not!

    Comment by Ben Pratt — September 18, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  11. Rusty, as any tailor would tell you, your imaginary lines are biased ;-)

    Comment by Chad Too — September 18, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

  12. I wring my hands. It just feels good.

    My son can’t stand having the car stereo volume on anything that isn’t a multiple of 5. It gets really annoying because sometimes 10 is too quiet and 15 is too loud.

    I don’t hand-write in my head, but I do fingerspell in my head, using sign language. Sometimes I’ll actually do the fingerspelling with my fingers. I’m not deaf and I don’t know any deaf people, but I learned some sign language when I was a kid.

    Comment by Susan M — September 19, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  13. PS all blog posts should come with graphics from now on.

    Comment by Susan M — September 19, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  14. My fridge door closes on its own if you don’t hold it. So when I need something, I open the door, let go, and then force myself to grab all the items I need without letting the door touch me again as it closes. It gives me about 5 seconds or so.

    Comment by Latter-day Guy — September 19, 2009 @ 9:59 am

  15. I count things, like rivets on an airplane wing, or stairs or anything that’s repeated. I time things in my head, particularly the time between lightning and thunder, so I can estimate the distance of the strike.

    Going over bridges, I notice how many other cars and especially big trucks are going to be on the bridge with me, and sometimes I try to speed up or slow down so as to minimize the total weight while I’m on the bridge. I’m not sure if this last is a tic or just comes from knowing too much about the current state of very poor maintenance of our bridges here in the US. =)

    Comment by Tatiana — September 20, 2009 @ 1:20 am

  16. Whenever I walk through a self opening door, I make a wave of my hand, or sometimes something more dramatic, that suggests to myself that I’m opening the door with my magic powers. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — September 20, 2009 @ 3:03 am

  17. john mansfield, that’s an awesome excuse! and susan, i do the “multiples of five” thing, too! i’m fine with it in the car, but tv volume must be divisible by five. we don’t have a tv anymore, thank goodness!

    Comment by makakona — September 25, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

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