You know when you’re standing in line to pay for your groceries and there’s someone behind you who, when you turn your head, seems to have maybe been reaching for you? They look harmless enough and usually smile at you and go on with their business, but they just look so smug about it? Sometimes you might actually catch them in the corner of your eye…suddenly drawing back…and you realize that they just picked something off of you? You might be a witness to their weirdness on the bus or train, as they subtly remove a dangling hair or errant loose thread from someone else’s back. If you’re lucky, you might even see them ‘change lanes’ in the mall to walk close enough behind someone with a random bit of fluff on their sweater…nabbing it as they pass the unaware pickee. Well…just so you know…that’s me.
I absolutely cannot stand to see a hair or piece of lint or schmutz of any kind on someone’s back, and it will drive me nuts if I don’t just take care of that situation!
“OCD,” you say? Maybe just a titch, but I think it’s more about misguided maternal instincts. Now, I don’t have kids, and I don’t even really like babies all that much…let’s just say that I’m not one of those childless women who has to hold every single baby brought within her maternal sphere of influence. I smile at them…sometimes make a face…but that’s about it. However, you hang one of that baby’s mama’s long blonde hairs from the edge of a blanket…and I’m ON IT. I’m not sure when this habit got the “Mama Monkey” label, but I think husband #1 might have been involved. (If it doesn’t make sense, just think about one of those shows on Nat Geo where the monkeys pick bugs off of each other. Yeah…it’s a bit mortifying but it totally fits . And no, I do NOT eat anything I find, so that’s where the monkey part stops!)
Once I was at the airport, leaving for a business trip. As I walked to my gate, a girl in her mid-20’s walked along next to me, sniffling. She had obviously been doing some serious crying, and the mascara from one eye had trickled into a rivulet running down the side of her face. Remember, when you were little, how your mom would take a tissue or even her finger, spit on it, and wipe something off of your face? (I’m pretty sure that every mother ever born has done that, and that every child ever born hates it.) Yep…you already know. I didn’t even think about it…it was as if my unrequited ‘mom hand’ had a mind of its own! I licked my thumb, reached over and wiped away her smeary makeup, gave her a pat on the shoulder, straightened her hair, told her it was going to be ok, and walked away…my work was done. The really weird thing about it was that she didn’t flinch, or call security or throw up or anything! I guess it’s entirely possible that she had to use the barf bag on the plane, but I was safely on my own plane by then.
I used to try to hold back on this special ‘gift’, realizing that not everyone likes having a foreign hand enter their intimate space (which is even more sacrosanct than ‘personal space’). At some point though, I realized that it wasn’t going to work…I just can’t help myself. I rationalized, “Hey…I’m HELPING them!” I mean, who wants to walk around all day with a big old tag poking up from the back of their shirt…or (God forbid!) their skirt hem turned up? I decided that it was a public service, and that I was damn good at it. If the ‘subject’ seems a little too distant or like they might not want my inspecting skills, I have learned to tap them on the shoulder (as I reach toward the offending object), and let them know that they have ‘an issue’. By the time they could even process a thought to reject my attention…BAM, it’s all over! (I’m pretty proud of myself on that technique.)
My advice to you is to relax and let us Mama Monkeys take care of you…we don’t really mean any harm, and most of us don’t spit…unless it’s absolutely necessary.