You are here

Your intentions sir?

I keep wondering how much farther we can compromise ourselves for safety. I'm not talking about safety from terrorists or safety from war. I'm talking about emotional safety.

We cocoon ourselves up in our little bubbles within bubbles within bubbles. Our SUV's carrying us to our suburbs and to our neatly separated homes where we carve out private spaces with 8 foot high fences and blackout blinds. We shield ourselves from physical contact and get grumpy when people come into our bubble, because that's "our bubble damn-it" and "oh how rude" and "personal space people!"

So we get further and further apart. We lose that connection, that propinquity, where proximity allows for a connection, and ongoing proximity allows for intimacy. The further apart we get, the more conservative we become with touch and with our emotions the more we start to redefine our words and mistrust them.

Think about words like connection, intimacy, love, desire, embrace, cuddle, kiss, soul mate. They all bring about associations and evoke specific pictures in your brain. Maybe together or even separate the words make you think of lovers, if you threw those words together with "two men" or "two women" then quite a few people are going to word associate to "gay". It's all about context.

Man cuddles with woman. Good.
Man cuddles with wife. Good.
Man cuddles with friends wife. CHEATER!
Woman cuddles with son. Good.
Woman cuddles with 27 year old son. FREAK!
Man kisses daughter. Okay.
Man kisses daughter's friend. PERVERT!
Man kisses dad. WHAT?!
Man kisses elderly/decrepit dad. Oh how sweet!
Man kisses man. GAY!
French man kisses French man. BON JOUR!
Child hugging another child. CUTE!
Child hugging another child at school. SEXUAL HARASSMENT!

It's no wonder that we just avoid it all together. There are so many rules in place, so many little things to be aware of, so much mistrust and fear. If I'm holding hands with my 13 year old daughter is someone going to think I'm a pervert dating an underage girl, will they think I'm secretly molesting her? If I'm hugging my wife's best friend will someone tell my wife, or tell her husband? Will they think we're cheating? If I kiss my father on the cheek because I love him, will someone think we're gay?

So we start avoiding those cumbersome situations. We avoid those little touches, that shoulder squeeze for a colleague who's stressed out at work, that hug for a neighbor going through hard times, that pat on the back that say's "hi buddy". Eventually we're not practiced at it, it's foreign, it even becomes foreign for family members. We just cease touching each other until we're only ever touching each other for sexual relations or to push someone out of our way.

Look to other cultures today and throughout time and you get this picture of people who are in constant contact. They shake hands and hug and kiss and cuddle and practically lay on top of one another while eating and sleep 16 people in a tiny little room without complaint.

Look at Jonathan and David from the bible. Two men who loved each other, who embraced, and kissed and wept together. These men were soul mates that found no equal love with women.

"Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most."

And you can look at that as gay if you like, but is it necessary. Or is it a modern contrivance. A convenient category in which to put things that we're not quite comfortable with, when the reality is much more complex.

Then you look at us, in our bubbles, making sure that we give wide berth to that person coming down the isle opposite us at the grocery story. You wouldn't want to accidentally touch them and them think you were putting the moves on them. Don't smile either, that's clearly flirtation. Everything is about avoiding the appearance of impropriety and discomfort. You couldn't possibly tell that complete stranger that she's beautiful, because she is, what would she think? CREEPER! You couldn't tell your coworker that he looks good in that suit and tie, he might think you're gay or something.

Personally I'm exhausted from the rules. I just want to be comfortable. I don't want to have to worry about how someone will interpret something. I don't want to have to worry about what someone will think. I'll hold my daughter's hand in public if she wishes it and I'll hug my female friend because she needs it and I'll kiss my father on the cheek because I love him and everyone can just start getting used to seeing people touch again. If someone's worried about my intention they can ask and I'll tell them, or they can tell me they're uncomfortable and I'll stop. But I won't live in the contact void anymore.

It has to start somewhere. I hope that others will take note and start thinking about breaking out of these boundaries we've set for ourselves. I hope that we can move a little bit back towards sanity and get out of these bubbles. We don't "own" that space anyway. So why keep pretending.

I know my intentions. Do you?