Fire eater at Maggie’s memorial.
I wrote this last week the morning of my suspension, I still thought I had a job. But I don’t want it to get lost, and the job story is still in limbo, I don’t really have anything new to add about that situation except to say I’m not sitting on my ass. So here goes…
I really don’t like being touched. I’m not really sure why, but there it is. I like touching others, and sometimes I find it really hard to keep my hands to myself because if I “reached out to touch someone” they would probably think it inappropriate and I would get in trouble for it.
I’m not talking about grabbing some strange girls ass or boob on the street. I’m talking about a gentle caress on the neck, a rub on the back, a thumb rubbing that space between the clavicle and the beginning of the rotator cuff. This is the place where bullies used to press their thumb into when I was a kid to see if I would wince. But I don’t want to make someone wince, just a gentle, caressing rub, palm on shoulder, thumb on clavicle.
I usually feel that way with my wife, of course, and she is safe to touch; I have permission. I can touch her just about anywhere provided the circumstance and place is right.
But sometimes the feeling comes at the strangest moments, usually with friends that I feel close to and have affection for.
Last Saturday I was in my friend Dennis’ car with my wife and two other women. We were driving back from the funeral of a friend in Hudson NY. I sat next to him as I was the only other man in the car and guys always ride shotgun unless the driver is the attached one, then the wife rides shotgun.
Anyway, we’re all pretty good friends, we’ve all known each other a long time and I consider Dennis a guy I’m pretty close to, me being someone who tries to keep people, especially other men at arms length.
Me and Dennis in Hudson.
At some point Dennis said something self-deprecating, he’s good at that, and in response I unconsciously reached out and ran the palm of my hand from the back of his head to his neck, giving him a little rub.
He didn’t flinch or pull away, and he said:
“Wow. I haven’t been touched in months. Thanks Xavier.” We all laughed and continued our journey without any further talk of touching.
The same thing had happened to me years before, in similar circumstances. I was in the army; and I was stationed in Ft. Bragg N.C.
Ft. Bragg, home of the Airborne.
One afternoon I was headed back to the barracks after a required monthly “refresher” class on a weapon that I was assigned to. I was with my buddy Mara, who was also a Dragon gunner. The Dragon was an anti-tank gun.
A dragon in action. One of the dumber weapons the army has bought.
We were required to make our way out to the range by ourselves, since we were the only two Dagon gunners in our unit, and nobody wanted to drive us. Sometimes we took the free bus; sometimes we hitchhiked. That day we were hitchhiking back to the barracks and a girl soldier in a jeep pulled over and motioned us in. I sat in the front, Mara hopped into the back seat.
I have to mention that Mara and I were wearing full combat kit- Jungle camouflage uniforms, steel pots and web equipment. No rifles. The girl had on green fatigues and a baseball cap, she wasn’t 82nd, and she was a support troop.
She was blond and pretty, in a big raw-boned way. She asked were we were going and put the jeep in gear. We drove for a while and made polite conversation. Then suddenly she reached out with one hand and caressed the back of my neck in the same way I’d done to Dennis. Well, maybe a little more provocatively, she looked at me and smiled fetchingly while doing it.
I stiffened up at the sudden and unannounced touch, and almost pulled away. But she caught it.
“Wow you’re a shy one. I was about to tell you how cute you look in your cammies.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. We reached the street near our barracks and hopped off when she pulled over.
“Thanks.” I croaked.
“Yeah thanks.” Echoed Mara. She smiled, put the jeep in gear and pulled away, throwing a little wave our way.
“What did you do, Trevino? That girl was making a play for you, and you flinched.”
“I don’t know, it was so sudden…” Mara shook his head and walked away. It was the source of some merciless ribbing in the company for a bit after that. Unsolicited female company was hard to come by on Ft. Bragg.
That’s my gut reaction to touch, unless I know it’s going to be a sexual encounter. I equate touch with sex.
That makes it a little tough for me in some circumstances, like at these self help gatherings I go to on occasion. One of the practices of the society is giving each other hugs. I have learned to do the arm around one shoulder let your face get close pat on the back hug, a sort of cousin to the air kiss.
Sometimes the other person won’t stand for it, and I find myself either being crushed in a bear hug or having a woman’s breasts smashed against me. It’s uncomfortable as hell but offending someone can be even more uncomfortable, so I take it without comment.
Maybe it’s because when I was a kid we didn’t touch much as a family. My father didn’t want to touch anyone or be touched unless he was drunk. Then he became overly affectionate, and rough in the process. I guess that’s a good reason to not like being touched.
My mom wasn’t much of a toucher either, unless it was to discipline us.
All of my friends got kisses and blessings from their mothers when they left the house, I got the admonition not to be late or get in trouble. I guess what I really wanted was that hug and kiss and blessing and the “I love you.”
Me and Javier, the “giant boy.”
I do hug my son and tell him I love him whenever I see him, which is seldom since he lives in Omaha Nebraska. But I always did that since he was a baby, touched him and hugged him and always, always told him I love him. That’s how we always end our rare phone conversations, I say, “I love you son,”
And he says “Love you too dad.” It’s always nice to hear.