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It was with great intrigue last week that I clicked on a link underneath a headline that read,
“Why cracking your knuckles is a bad idea.”

Maybe, because I’ve been seeing commercials about Father’s Day, somewhere in my subconscious I was thinking about my own late father. When I saw that headline I wondered if I might find vindication for his admonitions against joint popping (because it would lead to arthritis and all kinds
of ills).

Imagine my disappointment when the information in the article confirmed there is really
nothing harmful about it. (Misleading web headlines will be a topic for another day).

The writer quoted a couple of physicians who said that, if there is an underlying symptom
causing a person to pop or crack his or her joints, it would be better to seek medical attention than to
continue with the self-adjusting.

But will the occasional (or even habitual) knuckle-crack cause arthritis? Not likely.

I mentioned my dad, who assured my brother and me from a young age that, if we were to continue to crack our knuckles, we could look forward to a lifetime of oversized joints. We would most assuredly have gnarled hands by our early 20s which would certainly jeopardize our chances of
gainful employment.

Lucky for us, we really weren’t that inclined to pop our joints anyway, so it never became a big

The fact is my father, bless him, had a number of pet peeves. He might have embellished the
consequences of actions he disliked in order to assure they would not take place in his presence.

In addition to joint popping, he had a thing about writing on yourself. What child, at some point, does not discover that a pen with ink can be used not only on paper but on any part of the body?

Even as adults, we might be inclined to jot a note or two on the palms of our hands to remind us
to do something.

It was forbidden in my childhood home and just in case I was inclined not to follow the rule, I
could never forget how, per the head of my household, the ink would go through my pores and into my bloodstream, causing all kinds of infections.

Surprisingly, I was never able to find a case study. (And I knew better than to ask my dad for an
example of someone who had had this happen to them).

Also, in our home, holding a door open to the outside beyond the time necessary for entry or exit was one of the worst possible misdeeds we could commit. This is something my brother and I learned early on. Friends and neighbors, however, as well as eventual daughters-in-law and grandchildren, had to be given their own lessons – free of charge.

Outside air mixed with inside air had the potential for all kinds of respiratory problems, not to
mention how we were trying to air condition the neighborhood, or worse, let a flying insect in the

There was some inconsistency with this one, because until he was 52 years old, my dad smoked,
long before it was banished to outside areas. But who was I to question? I might have been exposed to years of secondhand smoke but, by golly, the air I breathed was either outside or inside and never the twain would meet.

Along those lines, he was convinced a great percentage of illnesses were caused by simply being
cold. You could almost assure yourself of getting sick if you did not wear appropriate clothing and/or
undergarments when the weather would turn cool.

When I made the decision, as a teenager, to abandon pajamas and start sleeping in loose fitting
shorts, I was warned sternly about resulting sickness from becoming too cold as I slept. (And I received pajamas for Christmas that year).

Sure enough, a few years later when I was home from college and came down with a nasty virus,
my not-so-longsuffering father shook his head and said to me, “You’re still sleeping in your underwear, aren’t you?”

What could I say to that? Sometimes dads just know.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-
law and grandfather. Email him at

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