Step on a Crack? by Deb Kristy

Your biggest quirk is the topic of the week, and I must be frank with you all (you can still call me Kristy though): my quirks as so numerous and bizarre that I would need more than a blog post, more than a day, more than the whole fox trottin’ Debutante week to reveal them in all their glory and I can’t possibly pick the “biggest” one because it requires entirely too much mental sifting and considering the fact that I’ve been traveling for much longer than my brain can currently handle, well, just the thought of thinking exhausts me.

So I have to pick one, any one, biggest, smallest, whatever. How to do it, how to do it….

Well, one thing that I’ve been asked constantly since Catching Genius came out is if any of the things in the book are from my life. Mostly I say no. But that’s not entirely true. One of the things that I took from my own life is one of Estella’s quirks: not stepping on the grout lines in her completely tiled house.

I’m afraid it’s true.

How did it come about? I think that perhaps when I was little I took that whole “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” thing a little too seriously. I mean, that’s a pretty violent image for a small child, isn’t it? A very imaginative small child?

I was quite convinced that I could make things like that happen. And I was also somehow acutely aware of tragic coincidence. Long past the point that I no longer believed that the actual stepping on the crack would cause my mother’s back grievous harm, I was still quite certain that the day that I stopped paying attention to where my feet fell was the day my mother would be involved in a horrible pile-up on I-75 in which she would, that’s right, break her back. And I would be left with the guilt.

And so there’s no crack-steppin’ for me, no ma’am. That includes sidewalk cracks, grout lines, transitions from carpet to wood, carpet to tile, tile to wood, whatever. I admit that I go days without thinking about it, but when I feel that miniscule absence of firmament under my feet and start thinking about it? Well, in Estella’s words, I’m steppin’ mighty careful!

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6 Replies to “Step on a Crack? by Deb Kristy”

  1. That childhood sing-song myth haunted me when I was little. It was a little like standing on the top floor of my Nana’s high rise and pitching myself forward just to escape the sense of peril: If I could just fall, that horrible sensation would go away. It’s the same with the cracks. One day I couldn’t take it anymore, my arch ached to meet the seams in the cement boulevard on the way to the beach, and ever since, I’ve stepped on cracks. My mother’s back is fine, by the way, but her daughter is a bit of a head case.


  2. Oh, does anyone miss Estella, Connie and Tate as much as I do? You gave them all quirks, Kristy (guess coming up with those was easy, huh?), making them so real. Now what I want is to visit Connie’s bookstore, anyone care to join me?

  3. I’ve never really heeded that myth, but sometimes when I’m jogging, I subconsciously lengthen my strides so that I don’t step on sidewalk cracks.

  4. So what happens if the tile is teeny tiny, like 6″ square? Do you tiptoe? Or do you just let it go and step on a crack?

    I vascillate between avoiding cracks and deliberately stepping on them, savoring the unevenness. Story of my life! 😉

  5. I avoided cracks until I had kids of my own and watched them tramp willy-nilly across the sidewalk with not one thought for my bones. I decided then that the rhyme was crap.

  6. I was never too worried about cracks, but I really believed that if you didn’t hold your breath when you went by a graveyard, a ghost might enter your body. Sometimes, to this day, I still catch myself holding my breath when I drive by one…

    And I agree with Larramie — I miss all the wonderful characters in Catching Genuis, too and find myself wondering what they might be up to. A true sign of a great book!

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