So she’s having a bad time lately. Squints eyes, snorts, pinches nose, blows on fingers as if she’s blowing out a match, brushes hair back behind her ear, little cough. Everything in pairs. Can’t get through a song practicing a piano without doing it. So he talks to her.

    I did stuff like that when I was a kid, too.
    Squinted. Made bubbles with my tongue and blew them out. Opened my mouth real wide like a big yawn. Like this.
    You should have seen me. I was a mess. Drove my little sister crazy at dinner.
    Did this thing with my fingers, if I touched one thing with one finger, I had to do it with all my other fingers, to be fair or symmetrical or something.
    And this other thing with my fingers, tracing around the nails of my fingers with the tip of my thumb. Both hands of course. And this little prayer I’d repeat in my head.
    Hundreds of times a day.
    Some of them I still find myself doing.

What about you?

9 responses to “tics

  1. i spell out what people are saying in sign language. it helps me to focus on what they are saying instead of getting distracted by preparing my own response.

    also “crack” a number of things, including jaw, elbow, wrists, fingers, knees…

    and i used to do a very pretty spirally thing with my fingers, which i don’t do much anymore but plan to incorporate in my next stressfest. prestidigitation, it’s the ticcer’s tic.

  2. I have a nasty habit of chewing on the beard right below my lower lip. This does not go back to childhood, however.

  3. flerdle

    Press my foot into the floor, or think about it with a sort of “doomp” noise in my head when the guideposts and poles go past, or the next bit of dotted line down the middle of the road, when travelling by car or bus or train. Marking time and distance going past.

    Hey, we had a lot of long car trips when I was little. So dull.

    My sister’s the jiggler though. Drives me nuts. And I can’t stand people tapping the table if I’m leaning on it, or tapping the floor with their foot so the vibrations can be felt. Disturbing.

  4. mig

    Oh, you’ve reminded me of more. I also used to chew my beard, as a child. And when knocking on a door, knock exactly 8 knocks. Initially. Later I became afraid that 8 was an evil number, and while still feeling a compulsion to knock 8 raps, also tried to avoid doing so. And I used to hold my breath while passing graveyards. This was easier to do as a passenger in a car than walking; even in a car it was sometimes a problem if there was a red light, stop sign or train crossing in front of the graveyard.

  5. Footsteps had to be in evens, especially those to any meaningful destination, from when I was six until just before I left home. Then again, during several days at my mom’s apartment when I was 15. Shudder. I’d count things like stairs and tiles before I stepped on them, and if they worked out to an unfortuitous number I’d make the necessary adjustments. Now I practice tabletop feng shui, play a constant game of connect-the-rhythms, and glare back at narrow-spectrum artificial light sources (which annoyances are easily mitigated by shadows).

  6. I used to have to avoid stepping on the lines of tiled floors. And, simultaneously, step on as many tiles as possible, as fast as possible. Used to drive my mother insane!

  7. I have developed real tics over the last few years. A blink. And a bow, a nod. People think I do it on purpose, so they do it back to me. I get blinks and nods all day.

  8. Sam Walker

    I used to have the symmetry thing : if I did something like itched my arm/leg, or rubbed something, I had to do the same thing on the opposite side of my body. I also avoided stepping on cracks for quite some time, though not as long as the symmetry.

    I’ve honestly never heard another person mention having similar “problems” before. I always assumed it was just some sort of mild case of OCD that I got over as I got older.

  9. When I was a kid, certain things had to be repeated in multiples of four: touching doorknobs, the knock of my heel against the floor, switching which side of my mouth I was chewing on.