“Smooth” makes me think about cheeks: an old woman’s paper thin skin, a man after shaving, a baby’s softness. I keep trying to think of other stuff, but I keep thinking about skin and touching, maybe because I don’t do enough of it.
My uncle has joked many times about my touchiness as a child. He says if he sat down and made a lap, I was on it. True, and I liked stroking his crew cut and holding his hand while sitting on his lap too.
I’ve told my dog that she fails me because she won’t cuddle. She looks at me and thumps her tail while I’m talking and then goes back to protecting me from squirrels. While I’m happy to be squirrel-free, I’d also like a dog that cuddles.
There are touchers and non-touchers in the world. There are mates that sleep in the same bed, and mates that would rather sleep in different houses. The separate bedroom people often say their mate snores, but I’ve also heard them admit they don’t want to touch, or even that they can’t stand someone else breathing their air. I’m not quite sure how these people procreate.
My family isn’t very physically demonstrative, but when we went to Grandma’s house we lined up at the door when we came in and gave both Grandma and Grandpa a kiss on the cheek. One day I decided that I was too old for this kind of thing and Grandma let it pass. It’s one of my regrets. I should’ve kept kissing her as long as she offered her cheek, but she let me think myself more grown and I didn’t kiss her again. Sometimes the price of autonomy is too high.
We need to be touched. Wolves rubbing noses and monkeys grooming each other aren’t that different from people. Touch is part of our socialization. Our skin needs it as much as our minds and souls. Or maybe it’s empathetic people that need touch?
My early training means that I often sit with my hands in my lap like a “proper” female. My Italian friend loosened me up enough that I sometimes use a hand to express a point, but I very rarely reach across the invisible personal borders to touch a friend’s arm while empathizing with them. It’s so wrong, and it’s wrong that I fight my startle response when someone does it to me.
Part of it can also be that not all touch is good. I got swatted in school for laughing in the library. Mr. Delzoppo made me bend in front of the corner of his desk and I pointed out that he was going to crack my head open. He hit me with everything he had, and I pointed out that the only reason my head wasn’t bleeding is because I caught the desk in my hands before that could happen. More swats with a heavy stick for insubordination. Jerk. Can’t really see how corporal punishment altered my behavior in any positive way so I’m against it.
I abused my computer this week. I also had problems with 2 printers at work, broke the camera, and spilled a box of macaroni on the floor... so I'm going with old art. Touching a salamander seems smooth. They have very delicate skin. I’m just not safe to exist in the world this week so for all this talk of touching, I think I’ll stay curl up with my non-cuddly dog an old-fashioned book this weekend.