• Bodie English

Why Can't I Tickle Myself? Part 3 Of The Covid-19 Inquiries

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

In part 3 of our investigative series meant to answer some of the burning questions society is struggling to resolve, we feel we’ve reached the end of your patience as well as my capacity for lowering myself to the neighborhood level of journalism at this point. To wit… three is enough.

As the flattening of the curve allowed the light at the end of the tunnel to become more steady and emotionally supportive for some, others still experience the depths of anxiety and stress that this level of social isolation continues to present. Since my previous efforts to improve the lives of others was met with very personal inquiries I figured it was best to seek darker corners of need; streets that were not populated with the now enumerable street hikers with a new found ability to produce sweat and play pacman with people without facemasks.

I found at the end of a long drive a house that was more foreboding than what the architect surely had a mind to create. Or, perhaps Architect is too kind a term for a man that figures 4 sides equals a house. The windows were exposed to direct obtuse inundations of light; the front door had no porch and no awning. Walls, light blue along with burnt red/grey shingles made me think this house was the embodiment of a kindergartener’s rendering of a house with only Tex mex kids meal crayons to work with.

I did not have high hopes for the inhabitants needing much help from me, and I was not disappointed. Instead of going up to the door, I simply honked my horn from the curb until a face appeared in the rhomboid window of the front door. It’s owner looked comically like a joker card. He opened the door with a confused look and I tried my best to put on a congenial face with my hands visible in a friendly gesture of a wave. Some people just give off a creepy vibe and unfortunately for them, it’s not always accurate, but I found myself wishing I had looked at the sex offender registry before choosing this house. He was sickly pale, had no shirt on and his shorts were stained and loose revealing that he was still one of the hold-outs wearing tighty-whities.

“Sir,” I said, “I’m a journalist and I’m trying to do a community service and investigate any queries you may have about everything that’s been going on.” He looked at me blankly but with a deeply furrowed brow with one hand shielding the sunlight, no doubt wishing he’d had some sort of awning or front porch. He glanced down and with a disappointed tone he implored, “Why can’t I tickle myself?”

Now, my first instinct was to run and leave my car there as I faintly heard the song from Silence of the Lambs in the back of my mind. (Which by the way is a damn shame, I mean. That song is pretty good. It’s by the band Q. Lazzarus and the song is titled Goodbye Horses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKFaGDrOfrI )

Anyway, I was paralyzed for the moment and my manners won out, I began to pity this poor soul who I had begun to imagine attempting to tickle himself at what was surely his last ditch effort at happiness that had now imprinted in his question like an epitaph hanging in the air. I had no plans to return with the question so I simply googled it. It was a natural thing for me as I had my phone out ready to dial 911. Google yielded a surprising number of results with Reader’s Digest having done the job for me seen here: https://www.rd.com/culture/why-cant-you-tickle-yourself/

So as it turns out, our brains can be our own worst enemy and as such, tickling is an emotional response as much as it is physiological. Therefore our self-awareness interferes with the act of being surprised. Our somatosensory cortex processes touch but with full anticipation and therefore without all the fun. Our anterior cingulate cortex interprets the pleasurable interpretations only when others tickle us.

“Now, if I had done the study,” I told him,“ I would have found me some Siamese twins and asked them to try and tickle each other.” I managed a laugh but he did not. His sadness again affected me and I asked him if I was able to help. He replied, “Well now I know…” But I realized that although his question was “Why can’t I tickle myself,” it would be more accurate to interpret his plea as “Who’s gonna tickle me.”

I knew what I had to do. I straight ran after him, and as he ran from me, I could tell that this was the most excitement he had in years. I detected a frightful panic every time he turned around to see if I was about to catch him. I did catch him, tackled him and tickled the hell out of him. He nearly had a heart attack before I finally relented. I Got up and kicked his foot a little and said, “YOUR IT!”

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