The Right Touch

When one of my former amours went upon his way, I took to telling people that the body part of his I missed the most was his right elbow. He’d dig that sucker into my trapezius muscles, the big muscles that connect the neck to the back of the shoulders. Some judicious application of his elbow or elbows, and all manner of tension disappeared.

Another fellow I spent time with had a way with the soles of my feet. He’d dig his thumb into my arch, and about make me swoon with it. Still another guy had the knack of walking arm in arm.

In Regency romances, I’m forever having people walk arm in arm, and the art and literature of the day suggest this is one of few ways opposite sexes could have some tactile interaction.

Try it. If the taller party doesn’t match his or her steps to the shorter party’s, it’s a pain in the backside to walk like this. You sorta knock forearms, which is uncomfortable, and no help at all when the purpose of the endeavor is to cover ground. I dated a guy who was good at walking arm in arm.

Then there was this other dude, whose idea of how to walk in public was for him to put one hand on each of my shoulders, stay a half a pace behind me, and steer me down the street. He was taller and stronger than I am.

Steer me? Control where I walk by restraining me? The relationship didn’t last long. In the same vein, I spent time with a guy who insisted if we were in public, we should hold hands—though when we were not in public, he never once reached for my hand.

Another Mr. Blip on the Screen.

There are people who know how to touch us. They may not have a clue about how to order wine with the meal, dance the rhumba, or effect a court bow, but they have the touch.

So… the touches that make you melt. Dish, if you please, but keep it clean because this blog has no filters and I’d like to keep it that way.

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47 comments on “The Right Touch

  1. Lovely post and I have to add – this is a lovely website! I felt like I was swept back into history where I should be lifting a dainty cup of coffee instead of this super-sized mug with Writer Girl plastered across the side hahah!

    I have to say when my husband places his hand on the small of my back as we walk…I melt every time. 🙂 He’s got the right touch.
    Hugs and happy moments~

    • There are so few guys (in my experience) who can pull that one off. Probably a result of never learning how to waltz. I was surprised to learn that proper waltz position has the man’s hand on a woman’s back, half way up, so he can guide her more effectively. His hand does not belong the lady’s waist, where I’ve probably written it a half dozen times incorrectly.

      And it’s not what’s on the mug that counts, it’s what’s on the page or screen that makes us writer girls. Yes?

    • I had a friend (and he was never more than a friend) who could do this perfectly. Not sure where he learned it but he could put his hand on the small of your back and lead you through a door or down a sidewalk like it was the most natural thing in the world.

      • This is a lost art, I’m convinced of it. How do we instill this in our sons and swains? Forget the Republican primary (as if we could) this needs to be a priority.

  2. My husband has magic fingers, especially when rubbing my feet. He is the best at that. I’m also a teacher and hugs from little friends are priceless! Make my day!

    • Kids know how to hug you around the neck like you’re their bestest friend in the whole world. Horses get a lot of those around-the-neck kid hugs. I envy the well loved pony… and every teacher ought to have a spouse who rubs feet. For folks in retail, it ought to be required by law.

  3. I’m not a melt inside kind of person, but I do appreciate it when my husband puts his hand on the small of my back to direct us through a crowd.

  4. Michele, I’m not normally very demonstrative myself, but a little protective gesture like your husband’s has the advantage of being felt more than seen. He’s on your wavelength–you chose the right swain.

  5. My hubby … married for almost 19 years and known him half of my life at this point … and I can walk with arms around each other. I’m about 4 inches shorter than he is, so my arm goes around his waist and his goes around my shoulders. It’s simply lovely because we just fit. What’s fun: I can now stand like this with my son (who’s 18 and as tall as his dad) and it’s a different sort of lovely.

    Another “perfect touch” moment I cherish comes from when we were dating, and we traveled together during my break while studying abroad. We spent several days in Florence. We stood on the Ponte Vecchio in the rain one night after dinner, just shoulder to shoulder and watched the very full river go by and just knew it was perfect. No talking, no necking necessary. Just a peaceful moment above a raging river.


    • Kristen I LOVE that image of two young people wandering the Old Countries together, arms around each other, and being the still point above the raging river… and I think the way a young man treats his mama tells ALL. That your son will hug you is wonderful. A credit you, his dad, and him.

  6. My husband had a sweet way of putting his hand on my arm before we crossed a street. It was a running joke between us that, while he seemed to fear I would walk in front of a moving car, I kept assuring him that I had successfully crossed streets for twenty five years before we met. I miss that endearing little gesture. He also polished my glasses and my shoes. Why is it men love to polish shoes? How many women do you know who own a shoe kit, polish, rags and brushes? We just buy new shoes!

    • I’d forgotten about the shoe thing, but now that you mention it, I have many memories of my dad polishing his shoes. He also kept and keeps a sticky note in his closet that says (in his unique, wavery handwriting) “Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp.” That strikes me as exactly the kind of thing a WWII vet would have picked up in the Navy and kept with him for the next seventy years.

  7. One of my best friends gives the best hugs in the world. She wraps her arms completely around me and squeezes. She holds nothing back and I love her ability to do that.

    • One of my brothers is married to a very soft-spoken lady who adores animals. She has her spine of steel, but one rarely glimpses it. She gives special hugs, too, full of conviction that doesn’t lend itself to words. I expect my brother married her in part because of this ability to say, “I love you,” by touch alone.

  8. After all these years we still hold hands. I do remember that I always loved his hands. Strong hands. To me there is nothing worse than clammy hands and I’ve known a few (other’s boyfriends or husbands). Not that it is there fault and they can do anything about it, I just wouldn’t be able to stand it.

    • There’s a reason everybody used to wear gloves… but yes, a man’s hands can be such an impressive, memorable feature, as can a woman’s. Glad your fellow knows to hold your hand, still. In “The Virtuoso” I didn’t do enough with the potential for a pianist’s hands to be especially knowing…. I might feel an epilogue coming on.

  9. I am in a wheel chair so my husnd is always taller than me when we walk side by side. but in my dreams we actually walk together and he puts his arms around my waist and I get the feeling that I am being swept off my feet. I love that dream.

    • The subconscious can be very kind. I had to put down my personal horse a few years ago, an omnibus of a gelding by the name of Stretch. He was a fine fellow, and when I climbed aboard him, I felt like Queen of All I Surveyed. I’ve occasionally dreamed of riding him, and riding him well…. it’s sweet and comforting and I think the gift is coming from the horse as he frolics at his leisure in the Cloud Pasture.

      Do you ever tell your husband you dream of walking with him?

      • No,Ms.Burrowes I don’t this is something that is just for me. but for some reason I needed to share with another female. I guess because I am not close to my mother(she told me I was her personal punishment from God when I was 6) my sister doesn’t like me and I have no female friends because I am not from the town we live in it is my husbands home town. So, I just share with my autor friends on the internet and read my romance novels.I guess I am afraid my husband will laugh at my dream.

      • From a poster of the 1911 Pendelton Round Up:

        The emancipation of women may not have begun with the vote, nor in the cities where women marched and and carried signs and protested, but rather when they mounted a good cowhorse and realized how different and fine the view. From the back of a horse the world looked wider.

  10. I’m happy to report that yesterday’s winner of a signed copy of “The Virtuoso” (or the Grace Burrowes book of her choice) is Tiffany, who I suspect will read the thing in about two hours flat, if she hasn’t already.

  11. My hair reaches my hips, straight as a stick, so when the right man gently positions his hand in the small of my back without pulling or tangling my hair it is magic. Instantly I am petite, feminine, adored and don’t need to be on guard. The World will need to get through him to get to me. It is clear we are together, each with the other.
    The other is holding hands without lacing fingers. My hands are small (ring size 4 1/2) and full of arthritis. My adored wore a size 13 ring…sturdy, strong hands. If that hand wasn’t lightly resting in the curve of my lower back it was gently holding mine without fingers laced so it wouldn’t ache/hurt. Never had to explain, he simply noticed.

    • I love the horse quote, and wish I could give Gail a ride on a nice steady therapeutic riding mount. If Mr. Gail is a very good fellow, we might put him up on another pony right beside her.

      And this hand on the small of the back stuff seems to be the Right Move of the Day. I haven’t come across it done right, I suppose. I have long hair, too, though, and a guy who can braid my hair…. yes. That guy.

      • Ah yes, handling our hair. I love when my husband combs out my wet hair for me…bliss! My mane is long and curly and one must be patient with it – he is quite deft (though his skill might stem from the fact that his hair is down to his waist as well, though stick straight like Larisa described hers).

  12. My husband stands at the right height that I can rest my head on his shoulder. I am a taller woman and for many years thought I would not find someone that I could do that with. I love that when we are out in public or at home and are just standing he will reach out and grab my hand or pull me into a full embrace. I know that I struck gold in finding him. I was 21 before I had my first kiss or boyfriend for that matter and dreamed of my white knight. When I met my husband I knew he was the one for me. He tells me how much of an honor it is that he is the only one who captured my heart and I tell him that when he held me for the first time my heart was his. I got my white knight and them some!

    • You are proof that a lady does NOT have to kiss a lot of toads before she meets the handsome prince, though she might have to resist a lot of toads. Many of my heroines are tall women, it’s a way to make them a little isolated in a society where women were supposed to dainty and helpless, pale and pleasant. Thank goodness we’ve gotten past that!

    • The old backrub will never go out fashion, and I think there’s something in the strength of a man’s hands that give him an advantage with it. Wish more guys perfected this one with relentless practice.

  13. for me that would be my hubby of 32yrs…every night in bed as I’m reading my latest love story he rubs my shoulders. He isn’t the most romantic man in the world by far, but he does still have the touch for me.

  14. I am very much old fashion when it comes to this stuff and have yet to find a man will to accept that. However this friend of mine would know when I was stressed and while asking all the right questions would rub my neck and shoulders. This guy would really have to use a good amount of strength to work out the knots but the time he was finished I was more relaxed than I would ever admit to him (I am a tomboy and most of my friends are male). In our respective jobs stress was a given and to make a friend like him that work send tension and stress packing was a blessing.

    • Sammy, there is nothing wrong with having clear boundaries–I wish more young ladies in particular would give themselves permission to set limits for the fellows. (Which is probably a sign that I’m an old lady.) It’s a privilege to hold a woman’s hand, a privilege to have her trust. The good guys know this–and it sounds like your coworker was a good guy.

      • Your not old; your a role model for women. I have seen the effectiveness of setting boundaries and sticking to them. He is a good guy that is loads of laughs.

  15. Best touch ever – the first time your baby holds onto your finger. As my sons grew, when we would be walking in larger places, like malls, they would always say “Can I hold you hand?’. So cute. Now, one of my favorites touches is when my husband rubs my back in the pre-dawn hours when I have had another sleepless night.

    • One of the best, most horse-oriented riding instructors I ever came across (Paul Belasik) explained contact with the horse’s mouth this way. “When you’re crossing the street with your toddler at a busy intersection, you don’t wrap your fingers around their hand loosely. You HOLD their hand, so they know they’re safe…” Everybody in the barn who’d ever held a kid’s hand, immediately got the analogy, and probably a bunch of people who never had got it too.

      And then there’s the way a little kid budges up next to you when it’s time to read a story… like they’re getting closer to the story too. Priceless.

  16. Some lovely thoughts here.
    I love holding hands with my husband of 23 years or when it’s cold, tucking my hand in the crook of his arm. He’s only a few inches taller than me and I wasted a long time wishing he had more height, rather than realizing I have just exactly just what I needed.
    Our sense of touch is a very important one, but one often forgotten in fiction, isn’t it?

  17. Hi Grace,

    i think, when people can remember us for even the slightest thing or although we are apart for years, that can melt my heart.

    • You make a wonderful point, Eli! My sixth grade teacher was a young fellow just out of college, though to me, of course, he was quite grown up. Ten years later, I was walking across campus, a college student myself, and this nice looking man said, “Grace! How are you!” Even though I’d grown up, my sixth grade teacher knew me immediately, and recalled me out of all the hundreds of children he’d taught. It took me a minute to figure out who he was, though. I never saw him again, but never forgot the encounter, either.

      He knew me, he remembered my name, he recognized me. It made an impression.

  18. Yet again I am pleased to have come to Her Grace’s notes. You get me thinking my lady.
    I have had a an amour who’s hugs were divine, it was a perfect fit for being all snugly and safe.
    My husband has a way of knowing when I’m carrying tension, usually in my lower back and between my shoulder blades and massages it away.

    • The most useful question I seem to be posing in this blog series is: How do you reciprocate? Former Spouse was a sucker for the spontaneous hug, and that’s a fine quality in a man, isn’t it?

  19. Love it when Hubby rubs my feet! omgosh.. it feels like Heaven! Of course I had to add my two cents….. 🙂 I will return tomorrow! 🙂 don’t go on without me!