May 04, 2007

Toe Crackers Anonymous Meeting - Friday, May 4th

Hi. My Name is Scott. I am a Toe Cracker.

Chorus: "Hi, Scott."

This is my first visit. I guess it all started about the same as the rest of you. I started popping my finger knuckles back in my teen years. Could have been earlier. Suffice to say, it's been a good long while. Other kids showed me how. One day, after school, some boys were hanging out by the 7-11. They were older than me. In hushed tones and with a couple of them as lookouts they practiced their habit. One of them called me over, "Have you tried this?" Then he cracked both of his index fingers. Shocked, I turned to go. One of the biggest said, "What's a matter? You afraid?" In my head I could hear my Mom's voice: "You'll get arthritis if you do that!" and "Your knuckles will swell up to the size of golf balls!" They circled me. I had nowhere to go. Another taunted, "I bet you can't even pop one. Go ahead. I dare you!" And with that I succumbed. I succumbed to the pressure of my so-called peers. I raised both hands, put my thumbs on the sides of my index fingers, and pressed with gentle even pressure. Pop! Both rang out! The right one just a fraction of a second behind my left. It was almost like an echo; like they were conversing.
I cannot tell you how good it felt. It was such sweet release. I knew I was hooked. Hooked for life. But it never quite felt as good as it did that first time. Even when I began crack other knuckles, it wasn't the same. I knew I needed more. And bigger pops! Soon it was my neck, then it was my back. But it never measured up.
And of course, I had to do this in private. I almost got caught a couple of times. My Dad would ask, "What was that sound?" I would either pretend I didn't hear anything or shrug in such a way to try and pop my neck. I knew if my Mom ever found out, it would break her heart.

As I grew older, I did find other addicts. We would crack fingers, necks and backs until we got the munchies or hurt too much. The bad part of it was getting my girlfriend hooked. Her thing was letting me pop her neck. Once, her Mom caught us. Aghast, she yelled and screamed at us. Then her father chased me out of the house with a shotgun. I never saw her again. I did hear she got help, though. I'm glad. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

Then one day in my early twenties, I stumbled onto the hard stuff. All popped and cracked, I sat there staring at my feet. I thought, "Toes are a lot like fingers. Maybe I could pop them. I put my right foot sideways with my big toe on the carpet. With that same gentle constant pressure, I pushed my toe into the carpet. The pop was so loud I thought maybe the people in the next apartment heard it! The release was incredible! It was exactly like that first time cracking my index finger! I turned my left foot to a mirror image of the right and pressed down. POP! I was in ecstasy!
Now I craved more! This time in quantity. I was cracking my toes all the time. I would even make excuses, like going to the restroom, just so I could take off my shoes and start popping. Friends and coworkers thought I might have a prostate problem. Or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Or maybe colon cancer. I used this to my advantage. Bosses excused me whenever I asked. But truthfully, what I had was more disgusting. Sometimes sitting in the stall, how I wished I had IBS instead.
If I wasn't able to get away I found that I could subdue my craving by popping my ankles. A simple twisting movement would diminish the need, if only for a short time. I could even get away with it in a group setting. Like turning to walk somewhere, and it "accidentally" would happen. Still, I know I would turn red faced.

Now, at middle age, I realize that this cannot continue. I have a child. He'll soon be asking questions about knuckle cracking. How can I tell him it's wrong, but still enjoy my habit. Do I tell him how his knuckles will swell up? Mine haven't. Looking around the room, I don't see any deformed hands and feet. And arthritis? Anyone here suffering? ...No? ...Could... Could my Mom have been wrong? ...Did she lie to me? ...

Is the restroom nearby? I think my IBS is flaring up.

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