I’m not a cuddler, I don’t like snuggling, and I need my own space in order to sleep. Some people prefer to be coddled and held not just at bed time, but also when they’re sick or not feeling well. Perhaps there was a time in my life when I was like this too, but in my mind, it’s been since I was a young child. When I’m injured, sick, or generally not feeling well, it’s best to leave me be. Even when I was in labor, I didn’t want to be held or comforted, I just wanted to do what I had to do to get it over with and make the pain go away. To be honest, I am surprised my husband didn’t find me off in a dark place like under our deck out back when the time came for me to deliver. I sort of have a sense why animals do it. If under our deck was air conditioned and had drugs for a pain-free delivery, I probably would have snuck off alone to give birth.
With that being said, I’m not a total frigid bitch and there are times when human touch makes me feel better. During times of sadness or stress (or even anger) having my hand held, back rubbed or hair stroked will help me calm down and bring me some solace…when I know the person comforting me anyway.
I didn’t even attempt to find or fight for a reasonable parking space at the mall today. I pulled my giant Suburban to the back of the lot, and stopped myself from cursing as I crossed the 6.2 miles through the cold and windy parking lot to the mall’s entrance. I told myself to remain calm as I made my way through the busy stores while being hit with shopping bags, stuck behind super slow mall walkers, and even when a mother hit the back of my ankle with a stroller while she chatted on her cell phone and paid no attention to where she was going.
As I stood in the longest department store line in history and waited as three people ahead of me filled out credit card applications, I silently sang Christmas songs in my head in an attempt to ignore my surroundings. This became particularly difficult because the old man behind me was standing a little too close for comfort, and was apparently stricken with tuberculosis or pertussis based on his thick, hacking, persistant cough.
Finally, after what felt like forever, I was on my way back to my car. As I made my way down the long mall corridor, I spied several people with coffee, and remembering the long journey and single digit wind chills that awaited me just outside, I decided to wait in just one more line.
Standing in the food court, I began to second guess my decision. Nearing lunch time, these holiday shoppers were hungry, rude, and growing in numbers. Again, I found myself in a line a dozen people deep and the “help” at the counter seemed moments away from quitting (not that I would have blamed them). People continued to cut through the line, and after the fourth person squeezed between me and the lady in front of me without an “Excuse or Pardon me” I felt my holiday cheer draining from my body. If not for the dull roar of the wind whipping outside, I would have left the line. I just hate the cold. “Just hold on, Susan. Just another few minutes of madness…” I told myself silently. I stood there with my teeth clenched, took a deep breath in, and closed my eyes.
Standing there I tried to calm myself and remember if ever there was a time to remain merry, this was it. Just as I was about to let it all go and find my happy place for a moment, I thought I felt the back of my hair move. Eyes now opened, I remained perfectly still. After thirty seconds, and not feeling any further movement, I relaxed a bit again and took a step forward as the line moved up.
There it was again. My hair definitely moved that time. This time I took my hand and brushed the back of my hair, too afraid of what I might find and subsequently say or do if I turned around. Before I could even process what was happening, because trust me when I tell you my mind was trying to come up with a plan of attack, I felt a whole hand (as in palm and five fingers) enter the back of my hair and what i can only describe as “swoosh” around then gently pull my hair as it exited again.
I spun around faster than the woman could put her hand back down by her side and loudly demanded to know what the hell she thought she was doing. The older woman, and by older I mean old enough to know better, stood there arm extended and mouth open but silent. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I demanded. “Is there a reason you are touching my head?” I loudly questioned. She stuttered a moment and said “I saw a piece of red fuzz stuck in your hair and I was only trying to get it out. Then I thought I messed up your hair so I just tried to fluff it up. I was only trying to help.”
Now there are very few times I have ever been speechless, and standing face to face with this stranger who was looking at me as if I were the crazy person, was one of them. Realizing we now had an audience and that the entire line plus two employees were now staring at me, I lowered my voice and said, “You must be off your meds or from another place where it’s acceptable to fondle a stranger’s head. If it wasn’t Christmas I would….” and I trailed off. I just stood there for a moment and looked at this stranger’s dumbfounded clueless face and stomped off coffeeless and feeling somewhat violated.
I hoped, as I made my way to the car, that anything gross from the woman’s foreign hands might be blown out by the time I reached my car. I mean, who the hell knows where’s else her hands have been if she’s willing to stick her hand into my afro (which I totally had thanks to the wind)…As I stood in the shower for the second time today, I just assumed that this is what I get for going to the mall during the holidays (remember what happened last time!), and then I rinsed and repeated.