Touchy Feely at First Friday

July 28, 2016 | J Stebner


Thank you Mike Rosati for photographing July's First Friday event!


I just Googled ‘touchy feely.’ Reason being that I am writing about our First Friday event from a new perspective. Usually I’m writing from the perspective of someone walking around, looking for an interesting conversation to listen to and maybe join in on. Or someone who just gravitates towards those they know and are familiar and comfortable with to catch up.


But last First Friday I brought my massage chair and stayed planted in pretty much one spot for doing the same thing for 4 hours. Massaging. Touching and talking. I loved it. I learned so much.


So I Googled ‘touchy feely’: “openly expressing affection or other emotions, especially through physical contact."


That sounds nice. I like that. I grew up in a very large, very loud and very ‘touchy feely’ Italian immigrant household. This behavior makes sense to me. Sadly, I learned very soon that our American culture doesn’t take too kindly to physical contact. A fact further enforced by Google’s assertion that this word, whose phonetic pronunciation is təCHēˈfēlē/, is also ‘adjective: informal derogatory.’ Sheesh. I won’t even go into the characteristics of or relating to touchy feely behavior.


At First Friday, people were lined up for some touchy feely. They were so happy to be next.


One poor guy came up and seemed distraught and not a little bit stressed out. I was almost done with another person and as the massage ended, this sweet guy came up and said sheepishly, “I haven’t been touched in Forever. Can I please get a massage?”


Have you ever heard the stories about babies in orphanages who despite being given enough food and water, warmth and relative safety, still wither and die because there were not enough humans around to give them the tactile stimulation so critical for growth and development? Why should it be so different for grown-ups? Granted we may not die from tactile deprivation as adults but extreme loneliness and isolation can make people wish they would sometimes.


People learn so much about themselves when they get a massage. After practicing for over 15 years now I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “Wow! I forgot about that!” as I worked on an area that they had neglected to mention as a trouble spot for them. “I didn’t even know I was tight there.”


I often asked massage clients to make a fist and squeeze it tight. I ask them, if you walked around all day without releasing your grip, how would that feel? They usually grimace and acknowledge that doesn’t sound like fun. With approximately 640 muscles in the human body and many of them holding various amounts of tension at any given time it’s no wonder people often feel exhausted without any evidence of overtly physical behavior. Sitting at a desk all day can exhaust some people. It’s tension.


Tension takes up energy, vital energy, that can be freed up and put to good by getting a massage.


Hugs work great too. Remember to hug people a lot. It is so healthy for everyone involved. And if people react as if it’s weird - remember it’s their problem. Give them a silent blessing and continue to spread the love.

And on a side note. The synchronicity thread from last month is still weaving it’s way through the experience. When I Googled ‘touchy feely’ the second thing that popped up was a movie that came out in 2013 called ‘Touchy Feely’ about a massage therapist who suddenly and mysteriously develops an aversion to bodily contact. Sounds like she needs a massage.