Big hugs

The other day a male work colleague dressed a deep puncture wound on my left ring finger.

This was an unremarkable event in itself; I had accidentally stabbed myself when washing the giant blade of a new food mixer. A day or two after, when I was in work, I asked him for advice, when it was still bleeding quite a lot. He had done a first aid course, you see.

But as he gently applied a padded dressing and secured it with some surgical tape, it sent a strange tingle from my wrist, up my arm, shoulder and into the back of my head. It’s that odd, but pleasant feeling you get when someone touches you (not sexually) in an unexpectedly gentle way. I remember the same feeling when I was about seven and my piano teacher adjusted my ‘fingering’.

I have no feelings of attraction towards this colleague – he’s a sweet, funny man about 20 years older than me with a twinkle in his eye, but nothing to appeal to me in that way – nor my female piano teacher of 30-odd years ago.

But the significance of this event – which I would never tell anyone, as it would sound self-pitying – was that it must have been the first time in over seven months that a man has actually touched me. Here, I am not counting a hug from my brother on Christmas Day, or repeated hugs and kisses with a four-year-old boy (my little boy, by the way). And because of that, the thought of it lingers in my mind. And how careless I was when I was washing the ruddy big blade that sliced through my washing up gloves.

I am not making this observation for sympathy and pity, just noting it for thought and the fact that when we get ‘touched’ regularly we all tend to take it for granted. If you’re bored with your man, irritated by him grabbing you from behind as you do the dishes (avoiding sharp mixer blades, I hope), kissing your neck or squashing your legs, as you sit together on the sofa and he does that turning sideways to stretch out and use you as a foot rest thing, just think about it. What if all that physical contact suddenly stopped, even though you find it annoying at times?

It feels cold – cold and shivery. Yes, if these things happen, we just have to suck it up. Shit happens, as less articulate philosophers would say. And lots of old people live for years without a single hug, kiss, touch of a hand. I remember (long gone) older relatives attaching so much meaning to a mere hug that, clearly, it was a major event in their lives.

So, really, I mustn’t grumble. But nothing can replace a big man hug, that kind where you can bury your head in his chest, hear his heart beating, smell his scent, feel the warmth emanating through his clothes, as he holds you tightly, for a few minutes. Even emerging with an imprint of the knit pattern of his jumper on your face, and feeling slightly woozy, because you haven’t breathed proper air for a few minutes, is worth it.

Don’t get me wrong – I still miss the sex bit too – my God, I do! But I have ‘machines’ that can help with that.  Whereas, at this time of year, when temperatures drop below zero, any number of layers of clothing, heating on full blast, jumping up and down and jogging on the spot, are just not enough. Nothing can replace snuggling up with someone on the sofa or under the duvet.

 

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