Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's Just Hang-ups .... It's Just Hang-ups ....

The dictionary definition of a “hang-up” is: “ … a source of mental or emotional difficulty.”

As a kid, I dealt with several hang-ups. Some of these have influenced me through the years.

When we lived on Pipkin Street in Beaumont during the 1940s, I often walked to school. J. L. Giles Elementary was only one block from our house.

One troublesome hang-up arose when I walked to school using the sidewalk. I had to be careful not to step on a crack. I learned to pace my steps so that each foot would step once on each section between the cracks. Variations of this included stepping on every crack with my left foot. At other times my right foot would receive the honors of being the one that had to step on the cracks.

Then I went through a phase of pretending there was an elastic string attached to my belt. The other end of the string was attached to my house. When I left for school each morning I imagined that the string stretched out. In other words no matter where I walked, the string kept me in contact with home. My real hang-up on this elastic string concept was that I had to be sure to walk home from school using the exact path I had used that morning while walking to school. Any deviation from that path meant that the string would get all tangled up.

Fortunately I managed to conquer those hang-ups because it became too frustrating to get them right all the time. Also, there were times when I had to throw all caution to the wind. For example, if Pancho, the Viguet’s German Shepherd ran at me barking and growling, I quit worrying about cracks in the sidewalk and tangling up my elastic string. I ran for cover wherever that happened to be. Same thing with Terry, the school bully. He delighted in finding me after school and beating me up. I discovered that I could outrun him. Again, my concerns for the cracks and the elastic string had to be set aside.

When was about 10 years old, I developed a hang-up that has stayed with me and has menaced my being for more than sixty years.

This hang-up had to do with “even numbers.” Even today I prefer even numbers and am sometimes a bit disconcerted when ushered into an odd number situation. For example, I always request an even telephone number. Also I prefer even numbers on my automobile tags.

This even number obsession first showed up in the strangest manner. For example, suppose that I scratched my right ear with my right hand. Then I would think, “Well, my right ear got scratched but my left ear did not.” So I would scratch my left ear with my left hand so that both ears would feel equal treatment. But actually this was not equal because the right ear was scratched first. Also, each ear had been scratched only once and to be even, each ear needed another scratch. Since the right ear had been first, I scratched the left ear first for the second round then the right ear.

Ok this meant that the right ear was scratched first but then the left ear was scratched two times in a row before the right ear received its second scratch. That’s about as even as things could be but just to make sure that proper closure was attained with both ears feeling equal, I proceeded to scratch both ears twice simultaneously.

My wife has told me that I, “ … have neurotic tendencies.” But I know better than that.

I’m not neurotic. I just have hang-ups.

Winston Hamby


Post a Comment

<< Home