I STILL Wanna Hold Your Hand
I remember the time when the only person who ever held my hand was my mother of blessed memory, with my father of blessed memory as a rare substitute. I mean, if the four of us, both parents and my brother and I, went for a walk, my father would get the better behaved child, who was definitely me.
Mommie had told me quite clearly that I could not cross the street without holding a hand. We lived near an expressway, and cars went fast.
Many years later, when I brought my husband to the parental house to meet her, she was gratified that I did not have to navigate this treacherous place without the anchor of my hand, and that I never had. A tad overprotective, perhaps, but like a therapist colleague once said after meeting my family, better they are like this than like the ones who don’t give a damn.
In between these two situations, somewhere in junior high, the Beatles swept the U.S. with popularity. With my standard logic at the time, I figured anybody or anything so many stupid people liked could not possibly be good. It is only now, that the screams have long died down, and that it is actually possibly for me to understand their contribution to the world. It is no accident, think I, that one of their early hits was “I want to hold your hand.”
Of course, they were not the first to write about hand-holding in a song. This older favorite comes to mind.
Whether it is the early, exploring part of love, or the mature kind, hand holding is a symbol that persists when other ideas of romance related gestures (like him throwing a coat in the gutter for her to step on and getting down on one knee to propose) seem to have disappeared.The psychologist who authored this New York Times article thinks that our anthem has moved forward to (at least) the Rolling Stones “Let’s spend the night together.”
My husband and I hold hands. I would not think of going more than a few steps with him, and we are almost always together, without offering my hand. I am not old enough yet to do this simply to avoid tipping over.
I am taken, he is taken, and not only does it not bother us at all that the world has figured this out, but we love being affectionate. We are the kind of couple that occasionally a single person will refer to as “nauseatingly” affectionate but mostly people just say we are “cute. We are somewhere at the apogee of couple-hood. No kids, just us. Spending as much time as we can together which is almost all the time. Far enough in our evolution (over 19 years of marriage) that we are both damned sure the other is a “keeper.” Business partner , intellectual playmate, we got it all.
Chasing up on a reference from the New York Times article, I found the work of James Coan, who actually studies the neurophysiology of hand holding. The subjectively delightful sense of security that comes with hand holding and the like. Less stress hormones, more biochemical well-being. This is easy to accept. I am happy this man won some kind of a prize for “early career” research. And that he found something that few others research, and is directing a University department.
Still, I need to wonder, if there will be practical applications, and if I would want them. I know a few women who get frustrated because their male counterpart will NOT hold hands. I am hoping this does NOT turn out to be something we medicate.