When I stepped into the back seat of my neighbor's very large SUV I noticed Shirley seated on the other side of the console. She reached across, gave my arm a big squeeze, and said, "So good to see you Lou."
I said, "Good to see you, too."
I was lying.
Shirley and I have little in common. Sure, we live near each other, sit down to pee, and have 46 chromosomes.
But that's where the similarities end.
Unlike Shirley, I do not feel the need to grab hold of someone's arm when speaking to him or her.
In fact, I can imagine very few scenarios requiring me to latch on to someone's arm.
--One of my daughters is attempting to escape when I'm giving her advice.
--A waiter is about to give my wine to someone at another table.
--A stranger has slipped off a cliff and is screaming for help.
Truth be told, the stranger would probably fall to his death before I could react. He'd likely be partially digested by crocodiles before I could finish my dramatic gasp.
And, even if I was able to successfully grab his arm, chances are excellent that I would lack the strength to pull him back to safety. He'd have to weigh less than 25 pounds if he expected me to save his life. And considering my subpar stamina, the emergency response team would have to arrive within two or three minutes.
So, after stepping into the back seat of the large SUV and being manhandled by Shirley I groaned.
I remembered too late that Shirley was a grabber.
How could I forget? She assaulted my arm for seven and a half minutes last summer at that neighborhood picnic. She'd had me cornered in the kitchen. By the devilled eggs.
And here we were. Sharing the back seat of a car.
I should have driven. Damn.
It is physically impossible for Shirley to utter a word without touching the person to whom she is speaking. She grabbed hold of my arm no fewer than ten times on that torturous twenty minute trek.
But she shared the love.
Shirley massaged the front seat passenger's shoulder a dozen or so times during the drive. The only person immune to the assault was the driver, whose shoulder was just beyond Shirley's reach. She'd desperately extended her hand, fingers wiggling, falling just short of the target.
(Think Tyrannosaurus Rex communicating with Helen Keller.)
The evening was a frustrating, yet somewhat entertaining, social experiment.
A few days later I was having lunch with another neighbor. I asked her if she had noticed Shirley's propensity to latch onto the arm of everyone and anyone she spoke to.
Laura quickly defended Shirley.
"Oh, she's very nice. When you get to know her you'll like her. She'll be more friendly."
Will she caress my face with her hands? Stick her tongue in my mouth?
I suppose I'm being too hard on Shirley. I should be more kind.
So what if she's grabby?
She may come in handy some day. Like if I ever find myself falling off a cliff.