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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hugs, Handshakes, and Other Horrors

If you're anything like me, the very idea of physical contact with people sends you into a panic attack. A smiling individual approaching with outstretched hand is a vision of horror that always makes me shrink back in dread. I will go out of my way to avoid a handshake, ducking into conveniently placed doorways, artfully arranging whatever I'm carrying so that it somehow takes both hands to hold it, acting preoccupied, blind in one eye, and/or partially deaf as occasion requires, or suddenly remembering that I've forgotten something and fleeing the scene until the threatening handshaker has moved on to another victim. When I'm cornered and there is no escape, I have tried chanting under my breath, “Don't touch me. Don't touch me. Don't touch me.” This method has proved remarkably ineffective.
Knuckle bumps are not quite so traumatic, but I still don't see what's wrong with a friendly nod.
As terrible as handshakes are, hugs are infinitely worse. Depending on the person who decides they dislike me enough to embrace me, hugs may require a shower and a load of laundry to get rid of. At the very least, a change of clothes is required. I don't know the precise number of times I have stood frozen with somebody's arms around me, as I try to return the hug with equal enthusiasm and not scream, “STOP TOUCHING ME!” but I'm sure each embrace has taken time off my life.
As for kisses . . . don't get me started. Let me just say that whoever decided that wiping their mouth on somebody else's face was a good way of showing affection should be shot. (Calm down, I'm just kidding. I think.)
Unfortunately, much as I may wish it, it doesn't look like these social customs are going anywhere soon. In the meantime I suppose I'll just have to hang a sign around my neck saying, “DO NOT TOUCH,” and invest in some antiseptic wipes such as Adrian Monk is so fond of. At least they'll save me a trip to the nearest sink to wash my hands.


  1. I saw your comment about having opened doors with your feet on Fellow OCD Sufferer's blog. I've kicked doors open before. And am not against using my arms instead of my hands to push a door open (once, somebody thought I had fallen into the door and asked if I was okay). I don't usually have trouble with handshakes (unless they have a spot on their hand that might possibly be blood), but you've described ocd well. I enjoyed your post. I hope you keep writing!

  2. Yay! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who does weird stuff like that. While I don't open doors with my feet anymore, I do get some odd looks when I try pushing down on the handle with my elbow or something. Ah, the joys.
    Thanks for your comment.