Problematic Petting: Welcome to the Sad World

from “The Last Picture Show”

Cynthia Robinson’s column, “Problematic Petting,” will feature stories, inquires, possible events, conversations, and overall essayistic reflection on relationships, sex and love and everything that is awkward, hilarious, touching (pun most dorkishly intended), lovely, romantic, pseudo-intellectual, and intriguing in between.

So to begin is a short sweet spot. I can’t “speak for my generation,” but what I can do is think about what I may think about what they think about. And it gets even more confusing so stay tuned.

Let’s Begin.

I can see the lake from here.

And I thought about going to the lake with you, I’m sure. I’m sure probably multiple times. There was sunshine, in those times. Or at least a limited amount of clouds.

And sometimes you’re in those moments of “Oh my gosh we actually are looking at the sun together” and you think we’re forcing this or is this something that we’re just “trying to do” but then you realize that you found that place and sat down and are now looking at the sun and you’re maybe kind of afraid that someone is looking down on you laughing like “look at those people just trying to be ‘people who look at the sun together’ and it be some loving and perfect thing.”

Many people think about holding hands, too, and even make up songs about holding hands. I am one of these people, but perhaps don’t exactly intend to be. It’s a normal feeling, to really just wanna hold someone’s hand. And here’s the thing — you really don’t realize how amazing it is to hold someone’s hand until you actually fucking hold someone’s hand. And then it all goes quiet.

And we weren’t even trying to be perfect.

You have to admit that while we were holding hands it felt good. And that Goodness–like real Goodness–can be ever so transient. Most especially when there are those of us who are maybe a little afraid of Real Goodness because we’ve been so bombarded with everything that we’re supposed to love or supposed to think is Real Goodness and we just think that when the actual real thing comes that it may be forced or something when in fact it is actually the most genuine and Good thing that has come around in a while.

Like that unexpected hug from someone when you thought they were really that kind of person who would barely touch people they were close to. Like a free meal from someone who, for whatever reason that night, just wanted it to be “on them.” Like someone who actually likes looking into your eyes and it’s okay to just do that.

So this is the tip for my generation: don’t ever be afraid to hold hands and really enjoy it if in fact in that moment you just feel compelled to do so. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” that timeless Beatles classic, just has some merit. It just does. Even though most of us today may think that those people back then were just all too innocent and jesus christ talk about someone’s ass and all in it and fuck with my Fuck Stick —

But no.

Innocence has its place. And I no longer wish to fuck with it.

Photo: The Last Picture Show

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