On tact and being tactile

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furry thingsI am a very tactile person. I can’t just look at something, I have to touch it to be able to fully see it in my mind. A display of fuzzy sweaters at the mall can undo an entire day’s schedule for me. I almost got kicked out of the Met for tracing the shapes of the Faberge’ eggs with my finger over and over again in the glass surrounding them while going over every possible scenario in my head that would lead to me being able to actually touch one without going to jail for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to steal one, I just had a burning need to touch one. I still do.

This is an absolutely horrible condition to have when you frequent places like truck stops. I see approximately seven hundred things I want to touch every time we stop. Unfortunately, five to six hundred of these things are usually attached to other people or their property.

I stood in line behind a guy at Love’s in Oklahoma and seriously almost had a nervous breakdown because I wanted to touch his hat so bad. It was a gray, slightly furry cowboy hat that looked like the most fabulously plush thing on this Earth, and I needed desperately to touch it. I’ve been around enough cowboy hats to know you’re not supposed to touch the expensive ones anywhere but the crown (though there are differing schools of thought on this out there), and there was no doubt this was an expensive hat. For some disgusting reason, there seems to be a direct correlation between how expensive something is and how bad I want to touch it. I got as close as I possibly could to him without being a stalker, and tried desperately to think of a reason I should be able to touch his hat. I was running out of time, the cashier was ringing him up and I was actually having a panic attack, because I knew my impulse control would fail me at any given moment. I finally reached around him (and I know the guy thought I was either coming on to him or having an epileptic seizure) and grabbed a banana (of all supremely inappropriate things) out of a basket on the counter. As I basically pressed myself against the poor man to grab a banana, my cheek brushed the brim of the wonderful, soft, cloud-like hat. It was the most divine hat on this planet and I had touched it. Mission accomplished.

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I awoke from my hat touching high to find the clerk and the man I had accosted staring at me. Let’s visit this scene: I’m sweaty and shaking from my near panic attack, my pupils are completely dilated from the endorphin rush I got from touching the hat, and I’m holding a banana.

“Um. That’s a very nice hat, sir. I needed a banana.”

Clearly, this was not my finest moment on the road. But the man was very nice, he tipped his beautiful, ethereal hat (which only made me want to touch it again) and walked a wide circle around me to leave the store. The clerk was a little judge-y, but she allowed me to purchase my banana without calling security. I thought everything was going to be fine, and I was going to make it back to the truck with at least a shred of dignity, until I saw the display of chrome nut sacks. I’m not talking pecans here, I’m talking about huge chrome scrotums. I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want a chrome scrotum, but those people probably have no idea why I needed to touch a hat, so whatever.

By this point in the story, it should be glaringly obvious that I don’t always think things through. When George walked into the store to look for me, he found me beside a display of chrome scrotums, holding a banana and intently inspecting a giant, shiny sack.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Are these what I think they are? Is this a giant chrome nutsack?”

“Quit touching them! And why do you have a banana? You’re in a truck stop, for God’s sake. Good-looking women don’t walk around holding bananas in truck stops. It’s not good.”

“I was not aware that carrying fruit in public is illegal in Oklahoma. And I paid for this banana, it’s mine.”

It became difficult to converse further, as he was dragging me by the elbow out of the truck stop. He wasn’t listening when I told him I paid for that banana with my dignity.

But I got to touch the hat. And that’s all that matters.