The Untouchables

In the grocery store, everything I want is on the top shelf. Every single thing. I’m 5’2″. It’s annoying. I usually manage, or I find a tall person to help me.

So one Saturday a month or so ago, I was struggling to reach a box of Triscuits. I love Triscuits. I could touch the box, but it slipped away as I touched it. Out of my reach.

“Damn!” I thought, when a voice came from behind me.

“You need a tall person to help you there, missy.”

“Missy?” I thought. Nobody’s called me that since I was about 12.

So I turned, and saw Mark standing there, smirking at me. From an enormous height.

Immediately, within a second, I gave him a hug. In a second-and-a-half, I realized how inappropriate that was. Oops.

You see, Mark was a client. A tall client, but still a client. One isn’t supposed to hug clients. Even if he DID get me that box off the shelf.

I gave myself a pass, though. I’m a hugger. I don’t think about it. When I see someone I know, I hug. Besides, I figured it didn’t really matter since I am currently unemployed, having been laid off last year. Mark is no longer a client. And I don’t know the etiquette for hugging former clients. I did work with him for 15 years; maybe after 10 years, hugging becomes acceptable.

When the news broke about Vice President Joe Biden affectionately — but not sexually — touching Lucy Flores and Amy Lappos, I immediately thought of Mark. And my hug. Would it keep me from running for higher office. Errrr, for ANY office?

Nope.

Had he hugged me, though, might it have squelched his plan to run for office as a Democrat?

Democrats are currently eating their own. I still haven’t gotten over the railroading of Al Franken. And now, folks are going after Uncle Joe – not even for sexual touching but for space invading. While the Pussy Grabber sits in the Oval Office.

Lord, I need a Triscuit. And I’ll take a hug from Joe Biden too.

58 Comments

Filed under Humor

58 responses to “The Untouchables

  1. Oh Elyse, how I have missed you! I am trying hard to get back in here, visiting, reading and saying hello. What do I find but this. I love Joe and am partly glad and partly sad that he is stepped back into this rat race and it will be that. I would take a hug from this man, in a hot minute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Val! Me too, and me too. I’ve had no heart for writing since Trump! And I have trouble with WP locking me out and not letting me comment without logging in every time. So I read, but ….

      I love Joe. I love most of the candidates except Bernie and Gillibrand. And I would gladly take a hug from Joe. Hopefully things will sort themselves out, we Dems won’t eat our own, and we can get rid of the stain on the floor of the oval!

      Happy Easter!

      Like

  2. I love Joe Biden too. He’s a smart man, politically experienced, understands that we have something called a constitution, and seems genuinely kind. He’s also suffered a lot of tragedy in his life. I admit that when I saw the video I thought what he did was a little weird. Not sexual really, just – odd. But then I found out it was like five years ago? Also, it was on national television. So my question is why didn’t she say something right then? Just tell Joe “Hey, man, maybe don’t sniff me, mmkay?” Or tell someone else. It’s not like she had to go up against a more powerful politician with her word against his. Everyone could see it! So why now?

    Because he’s considering running for office, that’s why. So yeah, I’m suspicious. I’m not saying he has the right to invade space, but I think the timing is certainly interesting, don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What’s really sad is that it’s hard to distinguish between political news and TMZ news anymore. Both sides make a mountain out of every molehill they see on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I gotta agree with you. He was in someone’s space it seems, but nothing sexual. They may have been uncomfortable with that, and should have said so, but no external intent it seems. Meanwhile, a horrible human being sits as your President, admitting to far far far worse… and we leave him there. It makes me question our collective sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the Biden story is interesting in that it illustrates a generational issue – among other things.

    You and I are of a similar age. People hugged often back in the day. One never gave it a thought. It didn’t mean it was inappropriate, just that the hugger never thought about it and the huggee (sp?) never spoke up if it was unwanted. Now it’s different. People will say if they feel a hug is unwanted or inappropriate.
    I read something the other day that, if I remember it exactly, said this: “it’s not how the hug was intended, it’s how the hug was perceived.” That makes sense to me. The older I get, the less I am willing to be hugged by people I don’t really know. My personal space has grown bigger. I’m very uncomfortable when people stand too close to me when we’re in line. If one of them hugged me, I’d feel assaulted.
    It’s a tough issue to be sure.
    It reminds me a bit of when I was going to church growing up (Catholic). There’s a point in the mass where you turn to the people around you and shake hands, saying “peace be with you”. I hated that. I didn’t want anyone shaking my hand. Yes, it was different if I knew someone well. But the people I didn’t know, no way were they shaking my hand. Same with holding hands while praying. No. Don’t touch me.
    For me, it’s also a matter of past history: as a child who was molested by a family member for a few years, and, who as a 21 year old was raped in a parking lot, people unexpectedly touching me throws me into a state of panic and fear. When I was raped, the arm wrapped around me suddenly, very unexpectedly and forced me down – and held me down. I imagine that even if it were Joe Biden, I’d still have that moment of fear and panic if he reached out and put his arm around me.
    In your story, hugging someone you know, who you’re comfortable with, makes it feel different, In retrospect, you thought if him as a client, and wondered how he felt. Who knows. I know that people I’ve known a long time can hug me anytime, and I’m ok with that. It’s the touch from a stranger, especially if it triggers something from your past, that can be the issue – perception, not intention.
    You and I have known each other long enough, even if it is only in the blogosphere. Your wise words offered a lot of comfort during the years I was caring for my mom. I’d probably let you hug me. Yet, I say that and am thinking that perhaps it’s because you’re a woman. I’m gay. So a woman hugging me isn’t taken in any particular way. When a guy I don’t know, or barely knows hugs me, that’s different. I would never be the first hugger, because I’d worry he’d think I was coming on to him – heterosexual men can be funny about that; also, if he hugs me, it’s threatening, as my molester and my rapist were both men. Absolute trigger, absolute threat.
    On the surface, the hugging seems like a fairly simple issue: “Why can’t someone hug someone without it being taken wrong?” But, perception makes it not such a simple issue. Joe, who I like, should let people hug him, not the other way around. If you’re a politician or celebrity and want to be seen as open and approachable, then let people hug you. You don’t need to reach out an hug them because who knows what you might trigger in someone.
    Sorry. …. long, long comment. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good points, John. You’ve given me some new perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You made a lot of wise points, John. And because I (or Joe) don’t see it as a big deal, doesn’t mean the person on the receiving end.

      I have never been assaulted, so I am fortunate. And as a short woman, am pretty unimposing! (And my former client is over 7 feet tall, so while he may not have been pleased (although he didn’t act offended), he was definitely not threatened.

      I guess I have some learning to do, too.

      And then there was Biden’s completely gone deaf speech on Friday. 🤦‍♀️

      I HATED the crap in church. Hated it. And I am a hugger! It is so phony and contrived. No thanks!

      Like

      • Yeah, the church stuff was weird. I think because it was forced …it wasn’t a spontaneous gesture.

        By the way … I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been here, commenting, or blogging … but I hope you’re well.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’d love to see Al Franken wade back into the swamp. What a tragedy. But I don’t think it was a railroading. Those pics were hard to look at.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was a comedian. On a USO tour. With a Hooters model photographed grabbing ass elsewhere, before becoming a regular on right wing radio. I don’t believe in blaming or shaming the victim, but circumstances do matter in this case.

      Franken asked for an investigation. Instead, Kirsten Gillibrand led the Dems in eating one of the best, most effective Senators.

      Like

  7. I like Joe Biden too, but unfortunately he has almost as much political baggage as Hillary did. I’m already imagining the slurs and insults that would come his way should he run. Plus, I think he’s too old for the stresses of the office. So is Bernie, bless his well-meaning idealistic soul. Nevertheless, I would vote for either, or for that matter almost any Democrat compared to the babbling disaster we have now.

    I’m delighted to see you back, Elyse. I’ve missed you and wish I could help you shop. (I’m 6′ 2″) I hope you will continue to post.

    Hugs,
    Jim

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jim! Nice to “see” you!

      You certainly have a point about baggage! And also like Hillary, Biden would be an excellent President. And I think he would help repair the trust in institutions that Trump has so damaged. But I doubt he will be either. 😢. There are a whole lot of excellent contenders, though, so I won’t cry for long!

      It’s nice to be back, I have really just not felt like writing at all. So I didn’t. And I was having a terrible time staying logged in on WordPress, so while I could read blogs, commenting was frustrating. We’ll see if the problem is truly remedied!

      And thanks for your offer to shop with me! You’d be far more fun than my husband I’m sure (which is why I leave him behind).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would help you shop too, Elise! I’ve been 5’7″ since I was 12 and towered over the boys. I haven’t written nearly as much lately either, though I still have ideas. They disappear in the vapor my brains turned into after Trump’s election.

        I also forget passwords and everytime WordPress changes I curse and try to find the old way and bookmark it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You and me both with the vapors, Alice. I swear, I have had a terrible time concentrating since the orange menace arrived. I can’t read or write any more. Obviously, Betsy DeVos has taken over my brain!

          Nice to “see you,” Alice!

          Like

  8. You’d take a hug from Joe Biden?
    MeToo.
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m 5’4″ but I know the top shelf phenomenon well. LOL that he called you “Missy.” I used to work with older people (over 65) and the men would often call me “young lady” which was flattering but undeserved. Huggers just are what they are, rules be damned. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Elyse! How I have missed you! I am (or used to be) 5’7″, so when I see a short person or someone in one of those electric carts because they are unable to walk or stand for some reason, I will always ask if I can help. Of course, if it had been me instead of Mark standing behind you, I would have lectured you on the merits of Wheat Thins as opposed to Triscuits, but if you insisted, I would have gotten the box for you. I would have hugged back, too.

    You know my stand on the Al Franken incident. https://mikk2.wordpress.com/2017/12/08/lather-rinse-resign/

    As for Joe Biden, allow me to tell you a story. Quite a few years ago, Joe Biden was stumping for a Dem candidate. He was appearing at my mom’s condo, so I went with her. Joe made a speech and then was talking to people in the crowd. When most people had left, my mom and I stayed to ask him a question. We were standing no more than 2 feet away from him. He was speaking to an elderly lady with a tracheotomy. While some people would be uncomfortable, Joe stood, looking directly at her with his hands on her shoulders. She was considerably shorter than him. She poured her heart out to him, and while she was speaking, he bent his head down so that his forehead was touching hers. She continued to speak, and he never broke his gaze. He wasn’t just putting on an act. He was genuinely interested in what she was saying, and she was so happy that someone was listening to her. All of the TV cameras and newspaper reporters had left, so he wasn’t talking to the lady for publicity. I didn’t get a chance to ask him my question, but I remember thinking that he was the kindest person I have ever seen. Your mileage may vary, but I still think he is one of the kindest people in the world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love your Biden story. I think he is a good man. Not everybody likes everything anybody does, and this situation is no exception. But I think the focus on folks who invade personal space is waaaayy down the list of infractions. If you’re uncomfortable, say something. Move away.

      I like wheat thins, too, but I eat too many of them. So I no longer buy them. Life is unfair.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m also of the belief that there are some shady doings from unseen political operatives in all of this coming out just a few weeks prior to his announcing his run. Having said that, I’m also not surprised either. Biden has been way too touchy-feely with women, and this has been well documented by snarky and not-so snarky observers. Although I love the guy, for me this is a mess of his own making. I still hope he runs because I think he offers something important in the upcoming primary. But he needs to address this better than he has.

    I am sorry to hear about your getting laid off, Elyse. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Marty. I miss the challenges of my old job. And answering “I do drugs” when folks asked me what I did for a living!

      And yes, Biden has always been known as a touchy-freely kind of guy. And like his verbal excesses, he goes too far sometimes. (Rubbing noses?!). But intent is important to keep in mind.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Great to read a post from you, and sorry you’ve been out of work for a year. I’d give you a hug for that, if it was welcome.

    Seems these are dangerous times for tactile people. On the other hand, I’ve seen men run their hands up and down the legs of waitresses and other women who are just trying to earn a living, and I can see where the MeToo movement is coming from. What I don’t like is where it sometimes goes to. A little overboard, in my view.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I was ranting about this to my husband last night. I start to wonder if someone got a pay out to do this. Consuming our own. Best description (and saddest) ever! So instead of an affectionate caring guy we get 4 more years of someone who will bed your daughter while his wife is pregnant.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Now, see, I have a different take on this. I love Joe as much as the next person. (I hope he doesn’t run, but that has nothing to do with this conversation.) I also believe that his intentions were all good. And I believe he generally supports women and women’s issues.

    Here’s where I part company with you (and him). His statement bugged me. It was all about him and what he felt. What’s important here – to me – is how the women feel about the actions of powerful men. And imbalanced power is critical here. Your shelf-saver is different in every respect. 1. You’ve known him for years. 2. You initiated the hug and kiss. You chose contact and made it clear it was fine with you and that’s great and makes for a friendlier, more civilized society.

    Prior to this meeting, he was a man in power because he was the client. Suppose he had hugged and kissed you in the office the first time you met? Would you feel differently about the interaction? I know I would.

    I have several former bosses and clients I happily hug and kiss when I see them, but we earned that relationship – over time and with permission.

    Joe Biden, and far too many other men, assume privileges with women’s space and bodies that the women don’t always like and that they don’t tend to with other men. Whatever their intentions, their thinking is only about how they feel about it. What’s great about this public conversation is how it enables us to discuss nuance. I honestly don’t care how they feel about it. What’s important is how the women feel about it. It’s their space; their bodies. They get to choose – or should.

    Furthermore, I have more than one friend who’s been truly assaulted. This kind of behavior triggers them in ways a stranger (e.g., a VP at an unknown Dem’s rally) wouldn’t/couldn’t know. I also have a few immune-compromised friends who don’t like to be touched because of the germs/pollen/dust/whatever that may be transferred. Again, if you are a stranger, you don’t know that.

    So, in my opinion, Joe – and his brethren – need to stop touching women without their permission. Context is everything – if you know someone and they give you permission: YAY – touching is great. And they need to focus less on how they feel and what they intended and focus more on how they make other people feel and how they perceive the men’s actions. They also need to recognize that when you are a man in a powerful position, the onus is on you to behave appropriately.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get your points, but I don’t agree with some of it. True, a stranger won’t know of past assault. But they also wouldn’t know of other triggers. Unless we each wear a sign board with a list of our sensitivities, nobody will ever know what they are.

      This situation, and Al Franken’s are a bridge too far, I believe. The goal is to get away from sexual abuse, misuse, and aggression. A kindly meant pat in an appropriate body part is ok with me, in spite of my immunocompromised state!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not knowing the triggers is a point (not my major one), but it’s because we don’t know that I think we should err on the side of caution. My real focus is on power imbalance, context and women’s space.

        But I would add a kiss on the head from a powerful stranger isn’t a kindly pat on an appropriate body part.

        I don’t think this is disqualifying. I actually think he’d make an ok VP again. But I do think it exemplifies the reason I have concerns about him: he’s an old white guy who behaves like an old white guy. He is educable, which is great, but there are a lot of wonderful people running who don’t need to get up to speed in the same ways and who will appeal to the all-important youth vote.

        I am, however, grateful for the opportunity to have a conversation about nuance. I hope he comes to see it that way.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t see it as a power play with Biden at all. I see it as him being encouraging and supportive.

          We will probably always disagree on this one.

          Like

  15. I’m a side hugger. But I do ask first now. Sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. 5’2″? From where I stand, that looks tall. Not very tall, mind you, but taller than me.

    As for Biden and non-sexual touching, the problem is that not only can’t we know his intentions, no one including him can know how his touch would be interpreted by the person being touched. We all have to remember the long history of (some) men feeling free to touch women however they damn well please and shape our actions around it. And yeah, I do see the irony of Democrats being vulnerable to accusations while Trump sails on, but we can’t stop demanding that men change their behavior because of it or later generations will have to start the fight all over again.

    This is, at least, one area where women are less vulnerable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually think it’s important that men learn to touch in a non sexual way. I have been at meetings and speeches where people get excited and touch in celebration. In other circumstances where a touch is encouraging and still others comforting.

      I don’t think that would be a nice place to live.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do agree about non-sexual touching. But the issue’s complex, and (predictably enough) institutions are looking for simple solutions, such as “never touch a child.” Even if the kid just fell down and is wailing? Kids need touch.

        Adults need touch.

        I heard Nacy Pelosi on the radio talking very sensibly about the Biden thing and the unequal power involved, which can make it difficult for someone to publicly move away from him if she’s not comfortable with the amount of touch that he is. Because there’s no one agreed standard. Just as different cultures have different distances that are comfortable between people, different cultures and individuals have different amounts and kinds of touch that are comfortable, and we all need to take that into account. It’s complicated.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. * sigh * Exactly my thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I’m a hugger too and I will hug women at work, but I’m careful. No lingering hugs. Always ask first. And I simply don’t hug as much as I used to or as often as I would like to. A hug is a wonderfully supportive thing to give to somebody. It’s a shame we have come to this place in our society and in our workplaces.

    There is a young lady I work with who has initiated hugs with me just as often as I have, if not more. About a year or year and a half ago, we gave each other this really incredible hug. And then I asked her if she was going to sue me six months later … or six years later. And that’s unfortunately where we’re at now. We hardly hug each other anymore.

    And then there’s my assistant. We give each other a Friday hug every week when she leaves for the weekend. I don’t worry about her at all and there’s no there there. I was telling a friend about this and she was aghast that I did this … that I wasn’t being careful enough.

    I really hate this part of our world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It really is crazy, isn’t it. There are creeps who make people uncomfortable (not us, natch), but touch is such a comfort, such an important connection.

      I had fairly radical surgery in 1982, and when I woke up, I was terrified, not knowing how things had gone. I don’t have any recollection of what my surgeon said, but I recall gratefully, the hand he put on my arm that told me all was well.

      Touch is part of being human!

      Liked by 2 people

      • A woman I work with has been battling cancer the entire time I’ve worked with her. 4+ years now. She has been through so much because of that, and also because of the crap that flows downhill at work. I started giving her hugs a couple of years ago. I am not going to stop doing that unless she tells me directly. Which she never has. I think it helps, if only for a few seconds. Because yes, human touch is so important.

        Liked by 2 people

  19. I’ll take a hug too!

    Liked by 2 people

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