I used to pick at my scabs until they bled, and then pick at them again once they healed up. I used to pick at peeling paint - I've mostly stopped that habit. But what I really like to do, really really, is get the peeling bark on trees that exfoliate like that. I've been known to cross the street and then stop for five minutes at a time to get at the London Plane trees on my block.
If I think about it much, when I think about it, I generally would attribute this sort of thing to being autistic. I mean, I'm sure there are plenty of people who aren't autistic who do this too, but probably not many who go out of their way to do it for fun. I could be wrong here, of course.
Which is where this gets interesting. I went out to bring my mother her coffee, and before I went in I spent a few minutes with our crape myrtle. And my mother said I was just like her mother.
My mother has a very complicated relationship with me and autism. On the one hand, she swears she knew when I was a small infant. On the other hand, she is eager to downplay any signs of autism that I might ever bring up - especially if they're traits shared with anybody in the family other than her father, who really was undeniably autistic. Either she denies that the traits exist, or she denies that they're quite strong, or she denies that they have anything to do with autism whatsoever. (There are some things she can't do this to, like the topographical agnosia, but otherwise she gives it the good ol' college try!)
So for her to criticize what I'm pretty sure is an autistic trait, and attribute it to her mother instead of her father - well, I could've used this as a segue into my ongoing attempts to speak with her on the subject of the broader autistic phenotype, assortative mating, and our family. But given recent events, I decided instead to talk about exfoliating bark and how I'm sure the reduction of dead bark will decrease the risk of a forest fire in our backyard.