Tony Woodlief | Author

Don’t Touch

The very first order given to us by the Almighty was: Don’t touch. Are you listening to me? Hands to yourselves. Don’t. Touch. Very, very bad things will happen if you touch that tree. See here, I’ve given you all these other trees, covered with yummy fruit. Mmmmm. Go enjoy the garden. Ride an elephant. Build a tree fort. Discover Velcro. Just don’t touch that one tree.

So, being human, Adam and Eve touched it. As punishment, God gave them boys to raise.

And the sinful impulse continues to this day, in my own sons. It’s like their eyes don’t work correctly, and so they have to put their grubby little hands on something to actually see it (except for Isaac, who gets acquainted with an object by covering it in slobber and then whacking himself in the forehead with it).

Caleb has discovered that touching is an effective way to insert himself into a conversation. He doesn’t use a gentle hand on the arm, like how my wife signals that I’m working up too frothy a conversational lather with dinner guests, or offering a Scotch to the wrong in-law.

No, Caleb’s new method of interruption is a really hard poke, right in the stomach. The first time he did it I actually yelped. It’s a stealthy, unnerving little attack on the senses. And then, once you know it could be coming at any time, it kind of puts you on edge. So now Caleb is learning that it’s a bad idea, especially at the dinner table, to poke the bear.

Eli, meanwhile, has become fond of giving me a little open-palmed whack as he walks bye, punctuated by “Hi Dad!” Sure, it sounds sweet enough, until the first time he catches you square in the groin.

Women don’t understand how so much pain can be generated by such a small gesture. They think they’ve got the corner on the pain market because of that whole childbirth thing. Well, we hurt too, ladies. So quit your snickering.

You know who you are.

It’s interesting how so many ills in the world can be traced back to this inability of man to keep his hands to himself. War, taxes, Michael Jackson — all these things could have been avoided had only we listened back in the Garden. Such a pity.

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