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Ah, OCD and Another Rock Kicker!

November 11th, 2019 · No Comments · Baseball, France, Sports

And there I was, thinking maybe I was the only person in France who made it a habit to kick rocks off roads.

A week or two ago, as we approached one of the entrances to the local “big” city, I looked to my left, and a woman, wearing pants, maybe 45, kicked a rock off the asphalt.

I took notice. Another step or so later, she lined up another rock and kicked that one too, right to the curb. It was not a one-shot thing. It was a pattern!

I may have shouted, “I’m not alone!” because rock-kicking is a bit of an unusual activity. A person could make an explanation (luck, perhaps?) for why those rocks need to be kicked … but it may have more to do with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) than some reasoned explanation.

My impression is that most OCD-like behaviors are benign. Someone who jumps over lines or doesn’t change his socks may mention “it’s lucky”. That is, they associate success with following a routine.

I recognize OCD can be a serious, nearly paralyzing condition, for those held in its grip.

I may be somewhere on the spectrum, but I am not at the end where long, intricate actions must precede almost any action. Like flipping a switch 12 times before leaving a room. Like walking around and around a car, checking and re-checking and re-re-checking that everything looks OK.

But back to rocks. Yes, I do kick them off roads and paths.

Here’s why:

Well, for one, I’ve done it for years now. For another, many of my OCD-like actions are tied to walking or running. Counting steps. Counting stairs. Kicking rocks.

My thing with rocks? They can mess up tires on vehicles ranging from skate boards to tractors.

For me, here in France, when I am out walking I often see rocks or stones on a street or path. Perhaps as small as a thumbnail. Big rocks, I’m careful with, because they could weigh more than I think and I could hurt myself. (Yeah; have done that a time or three.)

The enjoyment comes when I am working the rocks. If I hit one squarely and it ends up off the dirt/pavement, well that is a little success and I feel vaguely virtuous.

Next bike to come through … it’s not going to hit that particular rock, let me tell you.

On paths I often follow, an absence of rocks could be me kicking them, a few at a time, over a month or more — till the trail or dirt strip is nearly clear of rocks. More good work!

Did I mention I do not like riding over rocks while biking? And I don’t like the idea of sharp rocks potentially puncturing a tire on a car or bike. (I also pick rocks out of the treads of my tires. That’s just plain fun.)

I put a little skill into rock-kicking. Often, I plant my left foot just ahead of the rock, and with following right-side-foot kick, like a trick shot in soccer, bang the rock out of the way.

On good days, I might make contact on nine rocks out of every 10. Using my left foot to kick rocks ahead of me, and my right to get rocks behind me, almost like a soccer move.

I have some other OCD-like things going on … making my last five shots before leaving a basketball court. (Three-pointer, free throw, left-hand layup, right-hand layup, reverse layup. Only then can I leave.)

I never step on the chalk lines at a baseball field. (About half of all major-leaguers seem to have this aversion, actually. Inning ends, fielders go to the dugout but they jump over the base line. In general, I prefer not to step on lines.)

Speaking of ballplayers, is it being careful or is it more like OCD when batters go through the exact same regime between pitchers? You know, like Nomar Garciaparra, who wouldn’t get into the batter’s box until he had fiddled with both of his batting gloves — and a bunch of other things.

(Oh, and one of the most OCD-like famous athletes is Rafael Nadal, the tennis player, who has several — a dozen? — actions he must take before he serves the ball. Check the video. It’s mind-boggling.)

I will never reach that level. Too much work!

But I am happy to know at least one other rock-kicker is out there, in this part of France, making the roads a little tidier and safer.


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