Public Service Announcement

30 Mar

I have a serious problem. I feel it is incumbent upon me to discuss a condition that, while widespread, may be difficult or embarrassing for sufferers to admit to having.

One of the earliest clues that I have an issue came when I was a second grader. After school one day, I accompanied my mother to the supermarket. As she sifted through produce, I apparently wandered off a little way. After her initial panic, she realized I was still within her line of sight; she found me balanced atop the metal base beside the refrigerated vegetables.

Apparently, I was staring quite contentedly off into space, completely oblivious to the hectic, after-school mom-shopping environment. I had an okra gently cradled in one hand and was petting it with the other.

Now, let me specify: I’m not mentally challenged, though I’m sure my rather questionable (read: far too loving) treatment of okra may not corroborate this statement. Rather, I suffer from excessive tactility. Okra is fuzzy. And soft.

See? Fuzzy. (Credit)

Chances are, you know a few people with similar stories; they are also afflicted. What, then, does being an excessively tactile person mean?

This means that, if you wear anything with an interesting texture around me, I WILL PET YOU. Consider this both disclaimer and warning. I will follow you around, and you will be inundated with unsolicited touches and strokes (get your mind out of the gutter). If you have an animal with you, you are warned that your animal will have to suffer my cuddling. God save you if there is anything on your person that dangles, shines, or swishes: I will touch it.

I can’t help it, I swear. People who are tactile are often misunderstood and should be pitied. It’s not like we want to freak you out with our touchy-feely behavior; we’re not stalkers or creepers. Usually we really like our personal space as well (and try to, as often as possible, be very aware and respectful of others’ privacy bubbles). It’s just an uncontrollable impulse. Educate yourselves; the better you understand the mindset of a tactile person, the easier we are to tolerate. It’s really just best to let us do our thing and get it out of our system quickly.

Try to empathize with the embarrassment we feel on a regular basis when we shop (or window shop), spending far too long petting some article of clothing still on a hanger, and realizing that the shop employees are staring at us as though we’re lunatics. Try to understand what we go through when we attend parties with mere acquaintances, hugging them for a few seconds too long if they’re wearing a fur coat (P.S. If you have to buy fur, buy vintage, not new!), and realizing that they’re ardently trying to escape our clutches. We suffer from being looked at or regarded as insane on a regular basis. We’re not; we’re instinctually hardwired to pet things. It’s an undeniable compulsion; I know saying so is redundant, but it’s true.

My expression upon realizing that I’ve been rubbing my cheek against a rabbit scarf for the better part of 5 minutes. This is worse than a Picard facepalm– this is the Facepalm of Shame. (Credit)

Excessive tactility is a serious condition that affects every 22 out of 27 people; it’s much more widespread than you might think. Not everyone displays symptoms of this condition; many have undergone intensive therapy to control the urges, but such treatments are extremely expensive and have mixed results, at best. Those with the condition are not the only ones directly affected– touchees are, too. Also affected (besides the aforementioned animals, okra, and articles of fur) are things like:

  • beaded curtains
  • stachys byzantina (also known as Lamb’s ear)
  • wigs
  • stuffed animals
  • whipped cream
  • silly putty
  • oatmeal
  • sex wax on surfboards
  • anything made of python, crocodile, or alligator (though, like fur, I don’t condone buying such pieces)
  • UGG boots
  • those “Sleep” blankets/bears from Brookstone
  • pop-up children’s books
  • facial clay/mud masks
  • oatmeal
  • gel candles
  • bubble wrap
  • quills
  • the zips on Ziploc bags

…and many more.

Come on, you know that looks cuddly… Well, as cuddly as a plant can get. (Credit)

As you can see, being excessively tactile has far-reaching consequences. It’s time we join together and spread awareness about a common condition that often tends to be brushed under the rug. If you wish to do your part to help spread knowledge about really, really friendly folks, the first annual Touching Strangers Walk For Awareness (I told you once already: get your mind out of the gutter!) is happening Sunday, May 29.

Okay, I feel kind of guilty for using and altering an image from here. I’m not a terrible person, I swear.

Feel free to wear your fuzzy attire and bring your pets. Seriously. Do it.

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5 Responses to “Public Service Announcement”

  1. kathy52 March 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    As the person who first wittnessed you pettng the okra, it is still funny!

  2. rantonit May 4, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    I can’t help but find this funny . I’m sure it’s insanely irritating to actually go through . Reminds me of a line from Zoolander. 😀

    • missrachelweiss May 4, 2011 at 11:49 am #

      Oh gosh… You said that, and I started imagining the PSA-type parts in a Zoolander voice. I’m pretty sure that’s amazing!

      • rantonit May 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

        ok , but seriously , I never knew there was something like this . Before I read this if someone had told me my hair’s texture is interesting and started petting my head I would’ve … wouldn’t have been too nice about it . Well , sure I might still freak and run , but now I know . You’re writing’s really good btw . I’ll be following up 😀 .

        • missrachelweiss May 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

          Thanks so much! I’m hoping to have the time to post more very soon.

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