Nobody likes to be pawed around by people they don't really know in one of those awkward "hey your hand doesn't belong there" moments.
And yet, a world without touch would be a bit of a sad place, I think.
The other day, I got a hug from a Goodfellow mom that our fund helped out. It made my whole day, maybe my year.
There are a handful of huggers around town - those wonderful people who just bubble over with love and energy. They are going to grab you wherever they see you - in a crowded meeting room, in the crosswalk of a busy street - it is as inevitable as the new moon. And as beautiful.
When I go visit classrooms around the area, I make a point of high-fiving every kid when we part. Which means that I get every possible form of cold and flu every winter... but more importantly, I get a real sense of having touched children's lives. They don't need to be lectured to, they need to be loved and cared about.
Touch is a wonderful sense, it says everything without saying a word.
I admit that I'm not the most touchy-feely person in the world. I'm a little shy about crossing that bridge sometimes.
But, thank goodness, I am not royalty.
Earlier this month, Lebron James set off an international scandal of historic scope when he met the visiting Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after a Nets game in Brooklyn. "King James" was getting his picture taken with Prince William and Kate Middleton, when he threw his big friendly arm around the Duchess, bringing a momentary grimace of pure distress to Kate's face.
Apparently, protocol is that a commoner never, never, ever, is supposed to handle a royal. In fact, there is enough royal etiquette policy to choke a horse, but the touching thing is a biggie. (You may shake hands with a royal, only if they initiate it, very lightly and very momentarily, but make a note here, you are not allowed to hug, squeeze, kiss, caress, fist bump, deliver a noogie, brush off a bug, or provide a conspiratorial "good game" slap on the rump to a visiting duchess.
For future reference, you are not to refer to a Duchess as "toots," or a prince as "bro." Their first names are strictly off limits to peasants. If one is to address them at all, it is as "Your Royal Highness." You have to stand when they enter a room, or an NBA arena. If you eat with a royal, when he or she finishes, so do all the guests, still hungry or not. If introduced, you must bow or curtsy. It is good I don't meet royals, because I doubt I would pull off such a maneuver without toppling over.
Luckily, the royal couple, off their own turf and eager to fit in with a modern world, cut Lebron some slack and did not order him chained in the dungeon for his well-meaning faux pas.
It strikes me as a very continental difference of culture here. In the U.S., we want our celebrities to be intimately accessible. We want to touch them and talk to them and call them by their first names. It is the very premise behind our political system. Americans wouldn't vote for a candidate who wouldn't shake the people's hands and pose in pictures with them and tweak their babies' noses. Lebron, I imagine, was doing what is expected of him. Fans no doubt are thrilled when he poses and throws a big sweaty arm around them. England is content with its royals in a glass case, untouchable, like a museum of dolls.
I'd like to dislike the royals, I really would.
I've never believed in birthrights, or holding any person out as better than anyone else. Royalty borders on worship. Every time they show up somewhere, they are showered with adoring attention and special treatment.
I'd like to dislike them, but I can't. They're so darned cute. Wills, luckily, inherited a little of his mother's charm, and not much of his father's wearying worthlessness. Kate, despite what strikes me as fragility, seems fun and classy, despite a spree of skirt malfunctions.
As near as I can tell, being royal is basically a career of perpetual leisure; fame, wealth and adoration they have done nothing to earn.
Good work if you can get it. I'm not sure it's worth it, thought. Being untouchable, I suspect, would be a drag.