I have this gesture, this habit of touching my wrists together, which is really The Sign of the Cross in disguise. I wasn’t aware of how noticeable the movement was until our granddaughter, at about age two, started touching her wrists together. KK, by mimicking this action, put me on notice that other people could plainly see what was happening right in front of them. Yes, I know – the craziest part of this behavior may be that I let myself believe other people didn’t notice it. Leave it to a two year old.
Now, I mostly rub my wrists together when I’m sure no one is looking. It’s an anxious gesture, a snub and a plea to the Trinity of my youth that I meant to leave behind. Wrist touching in lieu of The Sign of the Cross is a “have-it both-ways” compulsive act, the morphing of a Catholic hold-over, meant to distance me from the anxiety producing beliefs and rituals of my Catholic upbringing. Meant to help keep me and my beloveds safe, to ward off evil spirits, punishment, and bad luck. Meant to keep a migraine at bay, keep monsters sleeping, keep Santorum out of the White House. Meant to keep our granddaughter from inheriting my anxieties.
So, I’ve tried to stop my nervousness in check, especially in front of KK. Not engaging in compulsive wrist-touching in front of our granddaughter is getting easier, because the older she and I get, the less anxious I become, especially when we are in each others company. She soothes me. She makes me want to be calm, for her sake and mine.
But why let a good neurotic gesture go to waste? I am in love with the two elderly and poorly behaved dykes who are characters in the series of linked short stories I am writing. And I’m “crazy” about the two angry messed-up Puerto Rican boys who are also main characters in the stories. My only problem is which character gets the bizarre wrist touching mannerism? I think TJ or Ramon, one or the other of the teen-aged boys, since they are both Catholic? But I may be wrong. One of the old women may be Catholic, too. I’ll offer my wrists to TJ today and see if the gesture suits him – poor boy, this would be the least of his troubles. And, while I’m at it, maybe I’ll imbue him with the knowledge of what I love about Catholicism, as well.