Monday, January 26, 2009

Skin Hunger

Here's the reason so many old people who live alone have dogs. Cats, too. It's skin hunger. We need touch and we aren't likely to receive touch from another person, so we enjoy the touching comfort of a dog or cat. I have had both pets at the same time and whereas a cat lets you pet her if she feels like it, a dog will lie there endlessly and revel in being petted. And I envy my dog that pleasure. I too would like to be stroked just that way, without need for reciprocation, just for the pleasure of the toucher: kind touch, gentle touch, firm touch, absent minded touch, a hand resting on my head, playing with the strands of hair with no worry that it will turn from a comfort to a need that wants being turned into something more than just touch. Or that I might get up to get a drink of water and in the getting up and walking away insult the person that pets this old cat. I want touch that doesn't require a thank you or come with an IOU.

This isn't just a new thought, or a new need, or something that just occurred to me on a whim. It's something I knew when my last lover and I lived together years ago. He was the dog in that relationship. He loved to be touched just the way I absentmindedly touch Roscoe when I'm baby-sitting him at night when he curls up next to me as I watch TV. I massage his face muscles and gently stroke his neck and soft ears, I rub the loose skin behind his ears and he just soaks it in. When I get tired of this or want him to move, I say, "move." He stands up on the bed, does a quick turn and lies down. There is nothing pushy in his acceptance of my touch or huffy or sulky at my desire to stop. With my ex, touch was almost always prelude to sex. If I were touching him, maybe not. But if he touched me with tenderness and a gentle hand it would almost always be about his desire for sex. I could ask for non-sexual touch, and he might agree, but it was as if he were watching his clock for the minimum ten minutes to pass so he could stop.

I'm probably dreaming. I doubt many men would want to lie in bed next to a woman and stroke her like she were a purring cat and leave it at that. But it's a nice dream.

17 comments:

Paul C said...

All I can say is "thanks" for writing that.

Anyone who really knows you well and is your friend is a lucky person.

P.

Pyzahn said...

UT, you have such an amazing, open spirit. I really appreciate your ability to share what's on your mind. It may be thoughtful, or clever, or funny...but it's always real.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

It refreshing to know that you make generalizations about all men based on the actions of one. Wait, no, actually, it really chaps my ass when women do that.

Stella said...

I love this post, Utah, because I've always loved creatures with fur. They give without expectations.

In fairness, Dr. Monkey has a good point: there are men who use touch for sex and those who often want to snuggle in bed without expecting anything. Depends.

The skin hunger (great description) from animals feels so different. I deeply love my hubby, but when I (frequently) hug our cats, I'm connecting with a different species, another world, a different perspective. I love the smooth, soft silkiness of a snake, the intelligent curiosity of a rat, the unbelievable softness of a rabbit.

I'm rambling again, but it's not just older people who have skin hunger. Animals love unconditionally without an IOU. Those of us who live closely with them understand.

Utah Savage said...

Dr Von Monkerstein, I know what you mean. I hate it when a man tars me with the brush left over from the last woman who waltzed through his life leaving wreckage in her wake. I try to avoid that. I really try. I don't always succeed.

One Fly said...

I say thanks too. Nicely done and I miss those touches myself.

Amos said...

What Utah says is true about 99.9% of men, the rest have chappy asses.

Utah Savage said...

Amos, tell me more about the ones with "chappy asses." Are they the ones who can satisfy a woman's need for touch without drawing up an IOU?

Comrade Kevin said...

I have been known to be that man before, though as was your experience, it almost always degenerated into foreplay which then degenerated into intercourse.

Not that I'm complaining, though. :-)

La Belette Rouge said...

This is a beautiful and poignant piece of writing. I do think is many ways animals have it made. As Lily is my first dog I am a bit amazed to see how much love she gets whenever she walks out door. Nobody comes up to me and pets me and tells me I am a pretty girl and that I am the cutest person they ever saw. Lily gets that every day and everywhere she goes.

Utah Savage said...

La Belette Rouge, maybe we will someday be lucky enough to be reincarnated as a much loved dog.

Lisa said...

There were times in the past when I did not touch MathMan enough. Especially, I think, when the kids were babies and I was feeding my skin hunger through constant contact with them. I still pet on them a lot and nothing pleases me more than putting my cheek against their soft cheeks. MMmmmm.. Sorry about that.

Anyway, now I make it a point to pet on MathMan, too, because I know how much he craves it. He returns the favor and it is delightful. I love going to sleep at night, he on his side facing away from me and me on my back, propped up some on pillows, my hand resting on his back.

Utah Savage said...

Well Lisa, Could you sandwich me in?

giggles said...

brutally honest....and true...

Beach Bum said...

Simply put most men are pigs and those who are not pigs are Neanderthals. Now I will leave dragging my knuckles behind me.

As far as touching is concerned I miss that.

Stella said...

Beach, you're not most men.

Utah Savage said...

Beach you are not that man. I'd pet you any day.