I work the early shift. I wake up at 5 a.m., am in a car to the office by 5:15, at my desk with both hands on the keyboard and a mic at my mouth by 5:45, and I leave promptly at 2 p.m. This allows me more afternoon flexibility than the normal working New Yorker, though my evenings in da club have been severely curtailed.
This afternoon, instead of going to yoga as I normally would, I decided to get a manicure. And a pedicure. And a ten-minute massage in one of those cushy chairs with the rotating iron fist behind the leather.
It was a pleasure made sweeter by the fact that everyone else was on their way to or from a meeting. There’s a line in a fine movie, Priceless, where Audrey Tautou says to her beau, “I love drinking in the afternoon. It’s like you’re keeping a secret.” That’s how I felt.
As I was rubbed and scrubbed, I couldn’t help noticing (as I always do) the sense of surprise when someone touches my hand. I believe that hands are the window to the soul. (I’ve never bought into that whole eye thing. My main complaint is that the eyeball itself can convey very little. The pupil can dilate, which expresses either “I’m on cocaine” or “I’ve just seen the doctor.” It seems to me that most expressiveness is really from the eyelids or the upper cheeks. Anyway, I’ve never met someone and seen more in their eyes than color.)
We touch many things with our hands each day, including each other. But it’s a rare instance when another hand directly touches ours in a non-romantic setting. And when it does happen, the mind is brought back from its wanderings in an instant. Shaking hands takes only the briefest of moments, but think how much stock we put into the exchange. There’s something intimate about it. I think I developed this idea in high school.
I’m not a big Shakespeare fan, though I appreciate his contribution. (Perhaps this is because I just don’t like the word ‘bard.’ It sounds to me like someone vomiting.) But one thing we agree on is the power of the hand.
I was in ninth-grade English class when I first saw Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Romeo and Juliet. And with them, I was able to transcend the snoring around me and do exactly what I was supposed to do. Despite the grainy film. Despite the sounds of other teenagers shuffling by the open classroom door, slouching towards detention (our own Bethlehem, in a way). I shall never forget their ‘holy palmers’ kiss.’
I suspect the other contribution to my theory is my mother. When pressed to list her favorite things about my father, says she knew he was a good man because she liked his hands.
And he’s never even been to get a manicure. He has no idea about the massaging chairs.