Ok, all my Friends Who Know Me Well–guess what happened today. You’ll never believe it:
I touched someone today. I, me, myself…touched someone. And it wasn’t an accident. I did it on purpose.
And no, the earth didn’t open up and swallow me whole and I didn’t keel over dead. The worst thing that happened was that I got made fun of about it.
You see, I am not a touchy person. Never have been. My mother says that when she tried to hug me when I was a kid, I’d squirm away.
My best friend in high school, Jo-Ann, is the same way. In all that decades we’ve known each other, we’ve inevitably brushed arms or hands. In that most horrible of events, both of us immediately wing our arms away from each other and give each other, “Eww! You touched me!” frowns and then laugh at the look on the other’s face.
The thing is, over the years, I’ve attended churches that have little breaks in the middle of the service where everyone can greet each other. The women at these churches always want to give each other hugs. I’ve become immune to the whole hugging-in-church thing and when I’m in church it’s almost like I’m a normal person. I can walk right up to someone and hug them, and I barely even notice. But only in church.
Unfortunately, Jo-Ann hasn’t attended huggy churches and had no such desensitization. So, when someone very dear to her passed away and we were in the church for the funeral, I forgot myself and hugged her. She gave me a disgusted look like, “Really? Really? I’m grieving and you have to go and hug me on top of everything else? What kind of friend are you?”
So…today I tagged along as Kevin took portraits for the pastors at church so I could learn from him and help out, if he’d let me.
After Kevin got Pastor Erik and Laura posed for their portrait, Laura’s hair looked funny and it needed to be fixed. But we didn’t want her to move, so, for the sake of the picture, I knew I’d have to fix it for her. And it was rather like when you’re stuck in a clamshell at the bottom of the ocean and you realize you’ll have to make yourself cut off your own foot so you don’t drown. I steeled myself and reached over and, under my own compulsion, touched her hair. And I even touched her forehead as well.
Now, the weird part is that my brain was screaming in a panic, “I’m touching someone else’s hair! I’m touching someone else’s hair!”
Well, I guess that’s not really weird. Here’s the weird part: Pastor Erik chuckled at me and said, “You’re funny. I like the way you said, ‘I’m touching someone else’s hair! I’m touching someone else’s hair!’”
Apparently panicky brain screams are audible. Who knew?
The thing is, touching her hair wasn’t as difficult as My Friends Who Know Me Well might think. My Friends Who Know Me Well (like my Soup Day friends) think my touch aversion is the Funniest Thing Ever and threaten to give me big, fat bear hugs whenever they see me. And Kim does give me big, fat bear hugs whenever she sees me, on purpose.
And then, there was that Christmas party back in ’00 when Pam and Michele waited until we were all smiling at the camera and juuust when Darling Husband clicked the button, they quickly leaned in and kissed me on both cheeks. Oh, I think I did die for just a few seconds that day. They kissed me! Oh, yuck!
Here’s the picture. I’m too lazy to scan it, so this is a picture of the picture. I’m the one in the middle with the expression caught between “smile for the camera” and “bug out your eyes in horror.”
The reason touching someone else’s hair today wasn’t as difficult as it could have been, is because it’s been a touchy weekend. I had opportunity to practice touching someone without recoiling.
At Photo Club on Saturday we were taking pictures around the church. A woman at the church for another event, whom I’ve spoken with only once before, was giving me picture ideas, like this: “Hey–how about you take a picture of a kid in the ball pit with only his eyes showing.”
The problem is that every time she gave me a new idea, she would stand reallyreallyclose to me and grab my arm. Not touch my arm. No, she would grab my forearm in a death grip and hang on to it the entire time she told me her picture idea. And stare at me. And lean in close.
And yesterday I had a choice. I could explain that to her that she needed to get off my arm (!) or use this as another step toward not being such a wienie about the whole touching thing.
So I let her touch my arm. Hey, it was better than the time that Melissa was giving me free photography lessons and put her hand on my knee and left it there for like 10 whole seconds. An eternity. I didn’t say anything at the time because she might have thought “what a weirdo,” and cut my photography lesson short.
So, all this to say, I’m improving a bit. But just a bit. So, please keep the big, fat bear hugs to a minimum.
P.S. Laura’s hair was really soft. I’ll have to find out what conditioner she uses.