: stepping on a crack :

Even at my advanced age I dart around cracks in the sidewalk. Not because I’m afraid I’ll trip, plummet to the pavement, fracture my skull, and die. No, I’m afraid I’ll cripple my mother. My fear is a vestigial holdover from the old childhood rhyme, ‘step on a crack, break your mother’s back.’ Although she’s been gone more than twenty years, reality hasn’t curbed my neurotic behavior.

And I blame Walt Disney, a fervent and enthusiastic tormentor of kids. Remember Bambi? Remember Dumbo? The guy warped my little mind forever with his movies and put me in mortal fear for my mother’s life. I was constantly on the lookout for falling anvils, runaway trains, cannons, bombs with lit fuses, Snidely Whiplash, any danger whatsoever. I kept a book on first aid in my dresser, just to be safe.

I’ve relaxed my guard a little, but I’m pretty sure my mother carries on in some form somewhere. Maybe in a parallel universe, maybe in an alternate world, maybe in heaven. So I refuse to take chances; I still avoid cracks. Keenly. To the uninitiated, my walks probably seem more akin to a game of hopscotch or Twister — with the skipping and sidestepping, the veering and swerving. It’s also possible I just look drunk, like a lush weaving her way home. I don’t care.

It’s hard to quit being a protector, you know. That’s been my job my whole life, so I can’t quit now. I tell myself even if I’m not saving dear old mom, I am saving hundreds — more likely thousands — of bugs. I try not to step on them, either. They appreciate that. I think.

copyright © 2017 the whirly girl

23 thoughts on “: stepping on a crack :

  1. When I was a child we had two options, ‘step on a crack, break your mama’s back, or avoid every crack you see, & mama get’s ocd.’ It was a hopeless, really, so we all just walked in the middle of the street.

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  2. You might be onto something. That Disney guy was an ass! No wonder kids have such issues today. We plop them in front of the Disney Channel while we do what we have to do. Who knows what evils they have absorbed?

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  3. Not sure who said it but when I was a kid there was a saying that went something like if you step on a crack you’ll break your mother’s back. I remember those days and today like you I try to avoid cracks.

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  4. At the risk of lowering the tone, can’t resist pasting this – hope you don’t mind …

    Lines and Squares
    by A.  A. Milne
    Whenever I walk in a London street,
    I’m ever so careful to watch my feet;
    And I keep in the squares,
    And the masses of bears,
    Who wait at the corners all ready to eat
    The sillies who tread on the lines of the street
    Go back to their lairs,
    And I say to them, “Bears,
    Just look how I’m walking in all the squares!”

    And the little bears growl to each other, “He’s mine,
    As soon as he’s silly and steps on a line.”
    And some of the bigger bears try to pretend
    That they came round the corner to look for a friend;
    And they try to pretend that nobody cares
    Whether you walk on the lines or squares.
    But only the sillies believe their talk;
    It’s ever so ‘portant how you walk.
    And it’s ever so jolly to call out, “Bears,
    Just watch me walking in all the squares!”

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  5. I know this one. It began in grade school. I still see my red Keds fitting inside each concrete square of the sidewalk on the way to & from school, carefully avoiding the cracks and picturing my mom slaving over the ironing board with my younger siblings hanging onto her legs, putting sheets out on the line to dry in the breeze, picking beans from the garden to wash in the sink for dinner, and all kinds of domestic chores. I wondered if she knew how hard it was for me to keep her safe all the time.

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  6. Thank you for a wonderfully funny and pleasant read. I just hope your sidewalks aren’t in disrepair, or you’ll really be hopping, skipping, and jumping. Thanks again, and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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