The metro doors open with a shudder and the floodgates open. I stand well back to let everyone past, but still manage to get buffeted and elbowed in the ribs. I don’t know what it is about wearing headphones, but with them on I am noticeably clumsier. I gauge distances badly, I tread on toes and am unable to weave in and out of crowds with my customary ease.
Safely inside, I manoeuvre myself into a position where I can grasp the metal pole in the standing area at a comfortable height. The carriage is bursting at the seams; the air is damp and thick. A woman folds herself into the crook of my arm, obscuring my view of the pole and making it difficult to hold on with her weight bearing onto me. Her hair is pulled back into a slick ponytail, and whatever she has used on it that morning causes me to fight back a sneeze.
As the train pulls away into the tunnel, I feel a clammy, insistent pressure against my curled palm and recoil inwardly. Certain types of unsollicited physical contact with strangers make me very uncomfortable, even if it is only the feather-light graze of an unknown hand against mine.
I inch my hand higher up the pole. Undeterred, the hand follows my lead, applying insistent pressure, so that my skin prickles with revulsion. I can’t decide whether to withdraw my hand altogether, relying on the fact that I’m so tightly wedged up against my fellow passengers that I won’t fall over, even if the driver chooses to slam on the brakes, or to steel myself to endure the surreptitious hand mauling all the way to my destination.
I choose a third option. I don’t have much in the way of fingernails. But just enough. I hear a sharp intake of breath and feel the hand fall away.
Petite 1 – anonymous hand fetishist 0
Mr Frog and I were out shopping. We had just started working and the novelty of having a ‘proper job’ after all those relatively poverty stricken student years had not yet worn off. The metro was moderately crowded and we were standing at opposite sides of the pole, discussing where to take a break from our orgy of spending for a bite to eat.
An attractive young couple shared ‘our’ pole, along with two or three other strangers of various ages whose faces are just a blur in my memory. I don’t recall what the couple were wearing, or the colour of their hair, only that their eyes were locked together: they were wrapped up in each other, oblivious to the rest of the world.
Without taking his eyes of her for a second, the man leaned forward to kiss her hand gently, but deliberately. Her pupils widened in shock. The hand was pulled away, sharply; an older woman, standing nearby, gasped and flushed a deep shade of crimson.
It took us a second or two to register what had happened.