An out-of-own relative who is reasonably active on Facebook and can be counted on to regularly post interesting but not at all weird or rabidly hateful stuff recently sent me an image titled “What I’m wearing when they let the huggers out of quarantine.”

It shows a human figure wearing a suit of clothes and a full head and face cover studded with sharp points, maybe about an inch long. It took me all of a couple of heartbeats to start giggling when I saw it, followed up with some quiet but distinctly impolite snorts and guffaws as I reveled in the sentiment of the thing.

I’m really not a hugger. I never have been. Not with people I do not know and trust. I don’t like to be touched by strangers or even people I am acquainted with but have not accepted into my decidedly-small circle of besties. But I have learned over the years to put up with “social touchers.”

I use the phrase “put up with” because being touched by people I have never met or barely even know is an imposition, one a polite person has to learn to accept or be thought of as a weirdo or some such thing.

People who mindlessly reach out and touch others without warning or the consent of the one touched are just that — mindless. They have no regard for others, generally, and are probably guilty of other kinds of irresponsible behavior, like asking really personal questions or telling everyone they know that they think you are just much too sensitive and jumpy and antisocial for your own good, and they’re sure it’s one of those “college-drug-experiment” things, you know?

Lots of people, people who have lived in this town for ages, know my family, so they think they know me, bless their hearts. I have also written for the paper for a lot of years and many people know my face and my name, and while I appreciate their readership, I don’t know them from Adam. I have also been seen onstage at Paris Community Theatre a lot over the years, and have had my picture in the paper in connection with that, and while I am perfectly happy to talk with anyone about any of those things, I am not really happy to let people put their hands on me because they liked what I wrote or the part I played onstage.

There are people in my own family I have never hugged, not because I didn’t like them, but because I was never around them enough to get to know them that well.

The physical distancing we have all been practicing these last few weeks is nothing new for me, not really. I generally stand away from people I do not know, especially total strangers out in public. I am especially touchy about people touching my face, my hair and my shoulders. I would never dream of walking up to a total stranger and touching their hair, something that used to happen a lot to me before I started wearing my hair short.

With the threat of illness and death hanging over us all these days, I have even more reason to keep my distance from other people. I prefer to stay well, thank you very much, so, you huggers out there? Please, keep your distance. And wear those masks. I fully intend to, for as long as it’s needed.

Sally Boswell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6962 or at

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