Many days, often many weeks, go by and no one touches me. Not a handshake. Not a friendly pat on the arm, not a hug nor a kiss. Alone.

Yesterday, Dr. Siddiqui asked for a second time, “You live alone?” surprised  as I get off the table on which he removed the tumor and onto my scooter. The nurse holds my arm, afraid I will fall even though I transfer well from table to scooter, from here to there, able to stand and move but not walk.

I like living alone. Generally. Of course, I would like…

Yesterday’s doctor visit is the first time I have been touched in a while—the nurse taking my blood pressure, the surgeon cutting into my belly.

I think of my neighbors here in the old age home where I live. Few receive a human touch as often as I which brings me to wondering how many of the elderly and disabled go to health care appointments primarily (albeit unconsciously) because they crave any human touch.

In my last posting, I boast Don-Juan-like of my love of women as if this is the only reason why I want to be remembered, not for causes of which I am proud nor work I have done nor my parenting two beautiful daughters in their 20s, nor the good men and women who have been my friends.

The experience of intimacy seems to have made all this; namely, my life possible, achievable, hopeful [pick a word that conveys rapture].

I do not want to examine this subject more closely except to note again that I am waiting in 6 days’ time (give or take) for a pathologist to make an Old Testament-style judgment—who shall live and who shall die.

The dictionary defines pathologist as “one who interprets and diagnoses the changes caused by disease in tissues and body fluids.”

In the past, I have had male and female pathologists whose signatures have appeared on my cancer diagnoses. “It is unheard of to see your pathologist,” a North Carolina physician I greatly trust advised me. I think of this specialist as Merlin, wearing a peaked hat in a spider-filled room next to the experimental rat cages peering into a microscope, considering….

For some forms of cancer, such as Hodgkin’s disease, the job requires years of experience differentiating among one cell form and another.

My first cancer around, the exacting oncologist explained that he sent my slides to the National Cancer Institute for review by “world specialists” because sometimes pathologists do not recognize the cancer when they see it because….

[I published a book on my first cancer, available for sale on this site, which not only will explain this but will put $10 in my pocket. The book highly recommends sex as helpful cancer therapy.]

This is the time of waiting when I am instructed to think “pretty thoughts.”

Pretty thoughts do not come easily to me when I am waiting right now. Nothing helps but to write. Prudence dictates I put these impulsive musings in a metaphorical drawer until I have had time to allow reasonable judgment to prevail.

It may not be prudent for me to publish impulsively as I have been doing. Nor would I recommend others to model themselves on my impulsivity. Instead, I rationalize doing so because writing now and pushing PUBLISH makes me feel better than any of the other palliatives recommended and readily available: meditation, prayer, exercise, and breathing.

On the subject of loving women, I recall a trip to China nearly 30 years ago where I was the spouse accompanying my pregnant wife who was negotiating a textile agreement.

While Diana negotiated, I was taken on a tour of a Buddhist temple. The guide asked whether I wanted to go to the shrine where people pray for their unborn children to be boys. I asked to pray at the shrine for a girl—which does not exist, but unhinged my guide’s poise.

Fortunately, both my children are female. I was raised by a single mother who in turn was raised by a single mother. Yes, I do have male friends.

For the most part, I prefer the company of women; I know the distinction between love which is not erotic and love which is and am comfortable with the appropriate boundary lines.

I love women.


Yes, I recognize that the issue of whether I live or die does not rest solely with the pathologist. There is the oncologist. There is a Higher Power. There is good luck.

Note: I am in no way repudiating Casanova. There is much to admire in his multi-volume diaries. There is Mozart’s opera on the master. Mozart too is a good guy.

–Joel Solkoff

Copyright © 2014 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

3 replies on “Touch”

Dear Joel! Since we spoke on the phone several years ago (even though we have never met) I have been reading your “writings.” From that vantage point, let me tell you that YOU have changed my life through your writings. This is when you write of your family, your daughters, and yourself. This last posting about “touch” was just amazing. I am one of those fortunate souls, who at 67, is healthy (although that could change tomorrow). As the years go by, I just about remember each time someone touches me (physically). A loving touch or when the radiologist held my arm (yesterday) to insert a needle. Joel, you continue to be the strength for many people who read your writings. Thank you for that. Your two daughters are lucky to have such a strong and sharing father. Best, Clif Freedman (friend of Lee)

Nice piece, man.

Fuck ’em. Click publish.

The arc of this piece is missing specific elements, and thus misses it’s target. The lack of touch hangs in the air like a wile y coyote. Then the credits roll.

How many millions are not touched? Why is it this way? Who decided touch was to be taken off the list? What does it mean?

Here is my prayer for you.

May your every touch on a key be like the swing of the hammer of god, and every word the roar of the trump of judgement. Shatter the walls, strike down the towers, and speak the unspeakable words. And may your name be “I Am.”


Anyway, I am enjoying this sequence of writing.

Let the coyote fall.

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