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Staying In Touch:
Legal Contact for Singles

or, the Beauty of a Hands-On Approach

by Daphne Uviller

A friend who was between relationships once said about his absentee sex life, "The longer you go without it, the less you crave it." Some of you will surely take issue with this blasphemy, protesting that your virility demands constant recognition, that your libido insists on fulfillment. Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but one thing is certain: we all need some kind of regular physical contact with another warm body. Not sex, mind you. Contact. Two very different animals.

Let's Get Physical, Phys-i-cal...

Hugs from friends are a great start -- and cost nothing -- but they're nowhere near long enough in duration. At the gym recently, I noticed a large man leaning over a small woman, pushing her thigh up to her chest and holding it there by pressing himself against her. As her physical trainer, he was licensed to do this, she was paying for it, and it was all legal! Her lusty groans, though slightly obscene for a public venue, could almost inspire one to forswear the messy business of sex. If your gym offers a free personal training session when you join, take advantage of it if only for the stretching portion. The feeling of someone else's strong, gentle hands (not to mention knees, forearms and feet) coaxing your muscles out of their customary cramped positions belongs to a category of pleasure all its own.

The great part about a personal trainer is that you're getting your Touch Quota (TQ) while attending to your health. Playing a sport, of course, is the best way to combine staying in shape with body contact. While only wrestling, football and rugby allow you the pleasure of tight, frequently horizontal embraces, other (less painful) sports make up for their brevity of contact with sheer heat. The rhythm of basketball, hockey, and soccer allows to you run around and get your blood pulsing, entangle yourself with someone in sweaty battle for a brief moment and then break apart... leaving you wound up and eager for another set-to. Not unlike masterful foreplay. Baseball and softball, however, are good for nothing. [NB: The views of this columnist regarding sports do not necessarily reflect the views of Breakup Girl or of any self-respecting American, for that matter.] Find a league and get moving.

[Editor's note: Ya know, Daphne, all kinds of fun things can happen on a co-ed softball team. Not only is there the persistent hyper-aware tension of the game -- punctuated by adrenalin-drenched displays of physical prowess -- but you almost always go for a beer afterward.]

Anyone who saw the movie Lambada: The Forbidden Dance (or even just saw the commercials, as I did) knows that dancing is nothing if not a contact sport. Whether you're brave enough to attach yourself at the hip to a stranger and undulate til the sun rises or whether you prefer courtlier mingling like ballroom dancing, there's a class or club out there that satisfies your TQ. Swing and country dancing will appeal to athletic dancers who like to toss and be tossed; Salsa entices those who prefer to keep their steps small and their facial expressions sultry. And did I mention you get to switch partners often, thus sampling a variety of body types and temperatures?

Hey, Baby...

For those of you looking for more sedentary activities, or at least ones that don't involve excessive sweating, I have one word for you: Volunteer. There are dogs in shelters that need to be petted, babies that need to be held, senior citizens who are longing to have a conversation with someone whose hand they can reach across a table and pat. Every hospital has a pediatric floor and most major cities have some version of a foundling hospital. In these places, you can spend an hour just sitting still, holding the densest bundle of warmth imaginable against your torso. You're not just soaking up a month's TQ, you're also single-handedly improving the wellbeing of attention-starved babies.

And moving right along from altruism to self-indulgence, we come to the most passive of physical pleasures: massage. For a full body rubdown, you have a range of price options. You can pay top dollar at a spa that will aromatherapise every hair in your nostrils while warm, oily hands perk up long ignored patches of your body. Afterwards, every cell feels as though you've been spoon-feeding it warm, chocolaty cream. And because massage therapists must be licensed, they must train in their profession. Who better to practice on than you? For a discount rubdown, head to the Web or the yellow pages to find a school nearby. In some airports, like Chicago's O'Hare, and in most cities, you can find quickie massage stores that offer 10, 20 and 30 minute pick-me-ups during which you remain fully clothed.

You're Soaking In It

Nail salons offering manicures and pedicures are also quick and have the added benefit of improving your appearance. No, it's not the slathering on of the polish that makes your extremities tingle, but the brief massage that precedes it. After soaking your digits in warm solution to soften the nails, even the humblest salon will make sure its manicurists spend a few moments pulling and rubbing each of your fingers and/or toes. Just having someone gently handle these overworked, under-compensated body parts can make muscles elsewhere unclench.

Last but not least: the hair salon. A friend recently said he goes there for the shampoo and then gets complimentary hair cut. (Shouldn't you be able to stop in once a week and pay for just a shampoo?) You probably need a trim anyway, so make yourself an appointment. Become a charming regular and you may well earn precious extra seconds with your head in the sink.

While certainly no substitute for a relationship, don't think of any of these strategies as desperate. Rather, tell yourself you are simply learning to appreciate the variety of venues at which bodily stimuli can be acquired. After all, when was the last time a lover spent five minutes doing nothing but delicately scritching your scalp?

And listen, if all else fails, you can always get yourself arrested. Just think of the frisking.

Daphne Uviller is that most poetic of all things: a writer living in New York. When last we left her, she was on top of the World Trade Center, pestering the newlyweds.

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