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January 28, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

My Obsession

Published by Farrago in 2009

It all started because I am supremely gullible. If someone told me they had actually removed the word ‘gullible’ from the dictionary, I’d believe it. When someone tells a joke that eventually ends in a ‘no, I’m kidding!’ I usually preface the punchline with; ‘really?’ So when I was in early primary school and some seven-year-old acquaintance of mine passed on the old adage that if you step on a crack, you break your back, I hopped on the bandwagon without much protest.

An obsession usually starts from something minor; mine sprang from an aversion to the spacing between each square of pavement. Occasionally a crack in the concrete would also pop up, and stepping over both of these tell-tale chiropractic omens became a habit du jour.

At this point, I’m not acting too much like your average lunatic. It’s just a childhood phase, right? Well, I still consider myself to be childish, particularly when I giggle at the sight of absolutely gigantic apples (that I have to grip with two hands to eat), several memorable Will Ferrell quotes, or a Flight of the Conchords song. When it comes to this particular obsession however, I have crossed into the realm of Jack-Nicholson-stomping-through-snow-trying-to-axe-murder-his-young-son territory. As an additional feat of lunacy, it also appears that I have blended two obsessions into one.

You see, I also have this ‘balance’ preoccupation in regards to my limbs. Yes, I am aware that I have four limbs, two on the top and two on the bottom, but that’s not quite it. The rule is, if I step/tap on something with one foot/finger, I have to even it out by doing the same thing to the other foot/fingers. Hence my finger-drumming to a song will usually involve a very strict rotation of finger taps. When I combined this habit with my general avoidance of pavement cracks, you start to see my own cracks appear. If I step on a break in the pavement, for example, I’ll even out the damage by stepping on another crack with my other foot. Balance is restored to my limbs, but perhaps not to my sanity. Luckily, I only perform this ritual when I’m not distracted, and as I forgot to validate my Metcard—twice—today, it seems I am not often focussed on what I’m doing.

Now that I have officially outed myself with the Farrago-reading public, I am at a loss to try and convince anyone reading this article that I am normal at all. On the outside, I’m your average, nerdy, creative Arts student, anonymous in a sea of converse sneakers, Savers shirts and the ubiquitous black cardigan. But one day, I know that the men in white jackets will come for me, put their strong arms underneath my shoulders and haul me away. The time and place is irrelevant. When they do commence dragging, I’ll be checking that I step evenly on cracks in the pavement all the way to the unmarked white van.


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