Years ago, Alisa and I went to the movies in New York City. It was late afternoon in a nearly deserted cinema in Greenwich Village. The feature film was Women in Love.
This post has almost nothing to do with that. This post is about touching.
I am reminded of that moment in the movie theater because there was this one lady sitting several rows away, popping her chewing gum. Loudly. Often.
Another woman, sitting closer to the Gum Popper, leaned over to her and whispered something like, “Please be quiet.”
The Gum Popper didn’t hear the request or simply didn’t care. So, after a few moments of continuing talking, the Nearby Woman repeated her request, much more loudly. “Please, be quiet.” In the dark, the Nearby Woman must have reached out to touch the Gum Popper.
With that, the Gum Popper was very startled, suddenly realizing that she was being addressed. Her response…
“Are you tawking to ME? Don’t LOOK at me; don’t TAWK to me; but, most of all, don’t TOUCH me.”
It was awkward, disturbing, threatening, memorable, and communal. It was a real New York Moment.
At Young Isaac, I’ve always suggested that we should talk to each other, but that touching is problematic. I’ve tried to enforce the following rules on touching:
1. No touching. Especially Artie. Don’t touch him. He won’t touch you.
Exception A: The High Five (or the Modern Fist Pump) in moments of genuine celebration
Exception B: The Heimlich Maneuver (or whatever we call that life-saving technique now)
In Exception B, the Heimlich Maneuver must be accompanied by a piece of meat flying through the air from the windpipe of the person you are touching. This is because a false Heimlich is precisely the extreme touching and indelible image I do not want to carry all the way to prison, which is where I will go if there’s too much touching in my company.