Upon Where I Touched Another Woman’s Boob

Oops – pardon my reach. How embarrassing. I meant to grab your butt.

It’s not what you think.

Or more accurately, it is sort of is what you think, but it’s not why you think it is.

Let me back up.

I have this thing I do at work.  Well, work is mainly the one thing I do at work (okay, I might hang out on the computer a bit much, but that’s another post).  But I since I manage a lot of folks, I have manager-y type of ways of connecting and encouraging staff.  I am not an iron fist, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am timely in my demonstrations of assertiveness and boundary declarations. I have my Falkland Islands moment, dispatched with Thatcher-like efficiency, but without the Labour party backlash.  At the same time, I am pretty much a hands-off kind of dude. People are touchy about other people being touchy. “Hands are for loving, not shoving” is a motto they use at schools, but in the work place, hands are for typing out emails on keyboards, lifting boxes or holding cigarettes on breaks.  No loving, baby…save that for the barracks and break room.

(Speaking of assertive, this old commercial came to mind which I had to share):

Anyway, the thing I do at work is a simple motion, a minor gesture, a wee act.  I touch shoulders.  Not often.  Usually when I want to thank someone, or to show my appreciation or just as a greeting.  Nothing creepish.  I work mostly with gents, so the ick factor is even lessened.  And it’s a once in a while thing.  I don’t have a genetic predisposition for it – unlike vampirism or having a club foot.  It’s a chummy thing, if anything.  And used in the right context, at the right times, it’s a human thing to do.  Something to remind me that we’re not robots, that we have hearts and minds and spirits that enjoy camaraderie and a sense of belonging.

This motion has never gone wrong for me.  Until a couple of weeks ago.  I had a gesture malfunction.

I was speaking to a female worker while I was waiting for the elevator to go to my office.  She and I had a bit of a misunderstanding earlier, nothing big, and we were talking it out.  So, as a deed of goodwill, I went with my patented shoulder touch.  Now, as I was moving in towards the edge of the clavicle, near the bursa, my elevator showed up, and started to make my way to it.  At the same time, she figured we were done with our conversation and started to turn.  With a wonderful display of dual pirouetting that would impress Sale and Pelletier, my hand ended up on her boob.  Not like a swooping eagle on a trout, but it may as well have been. Flesh meets Cross Your Heart.

Yeah, sort of this kind of awkward...but not as weird.
Yeah, sort of this kind of awkward…but without the homoerotic gladiator angle.

Needless to say, I was shocked and so was she.  I let the elevator pass, felt my face go crimson and other hues of red I have never heard of, and began to apologize profusely.  I had a grab of mam, and it wasn’t the second base type.  I might as well have brushed another gent’s junk.  (Well, I wouldn’t go that far).  She laughed it off, joking that she liked it, etc.  Hearty woman, of urban outlet mall stock. Not the kind of action to phase her, thank God.

Now, here’s the thing.  This innocent incident started to gnaw at me a bit.  Then a lot.  Although it made for a good laugh, I felt uneasy inside.  This was the kind of thing I would have brushed off in the past, just adding it to the other things that I would bother me and just eventually drink the uncomfortable-ness away.  More grist for the gin mill.  I couldn’t identify what it was – was it guilt? Shame? Remorse?  These were companions of mine for a long time, so it could have been.  But whatever it was, I knew deep down I have to ‘fess up.  To my wife, at the very least and the very most.

I was anxious, nervous. How would I approach this delicate matter? Would I bring it up at Target, mulling over juicers in the appliance section?  Segue it into a discussion on what to make the kids for school lunch?  Draw it out and leave it as a clue, the way serial killers would do as some sort of strange penitence for their crimes?  I thought about what I would say, when I would say it, how I would say it.  Would it come off as an offhand comment like “Oh dear, did you hear about my latest zinger, oh it’s madcap delightful, pull up a bean bag and a cup of Diet Shasta!”  Or would it be a lavish mea culpa, full of gothic gravitas and a Nine Inch Nails soundtrack?

Oh Trent, where is thy good friend Lestat with the absinthe and crow's skull?
Oh Trent, where is thy good friend Lestat with the absinthe and crows skulls?

Typical me, going to either extremes.  Igloo or lava pit.  So as we lay in bed that night, I start my story.  As I did here.  Joking a bit, concerned next, and before I can even get to the punchline, the one that had been eating my lunch all day, she blurts out “You touched a woman’s boob, didn’t you?”.  In the most non-plussed yet amused manner possible.  “Um, yes.  Yes I did”.  Nervous giggle.  That was it.  End of story.  No denouement.  She went back to her ipad.  My internal psi deflated at an alarming rate.  That was it. But it was more than that, methinks.

This brushing off of my brushing up showed me something – that my capacity to hold things in, to try to avoid something, to move through the day with some sort of dishonesty in my heart…doesn’t work any more. My ability to lie, even a little – through omission or commission – roughs me up now.  Whereas in the past dishonesty was yet another tool for my alcoholism to live another day, an easy breezy skill (albeit guilt-laden) meant to enable my selfishness and self-centeredness to carry forth and crown itself champ again.  But now…I can barely tell a white lie without the shadow of the Hounds of Baskerville on my tail.

I don’t know exactly when this shift occurred.  Perhaps in the recovery work I did, or just cutting the crap and getting to life on life’s terms.  Blame it on the rain or the man in the moon.  Who knows, but all I know is that one day my wife and I were talking and I ‘fessed up again about some tiny thing that was stoking my fire and she said “How were you able to lie about your drinking all that time? You can’t even lie about this little thing.” She wasn’t upset – just genuinely curious as to how I could lead a secret drinking life and not crack (well, that would come later), and yet, I crumple into a used-Kleenex type ball when I lie about not finding her favourite croutons at the store (I forgot).  That’s how it goes, this shift, this change, this transformation.  Going from Olympic champ bullshitter to bantam level fib failure.

Marius, at Trudging Through The Fire blog, wrote an awesome post about lying and he hit me in the solar plexus when he spoke about the white lies. The little things.  The ones that barely make you blink.  And that struck me, as I got it.  I understand how getting comfortable with the one or two little lies begets the bigger ones.  And believe me, the largest con and lie I pulled over my own eyes almost left me dead.  So if I can’t handle that one, then why start with the bambinos?  Better leave them at the IKEA ball yard to collect germs.  I don’t want to be in that vicinity any more.

It's all fun and games until the urine and pink eye virus count comes back from the lab.
It’s all fun and games until the urine and pink eye virus count comes back from the lab.

For those who don’t struggle with addiction or alcoholism, this all might sound quite silly.  And it does, to some extent.  But for those of us whose stinkin’ thinkin’ was the source of our despair and reaching for self-medication, keeping on top of the lies and the reasons behind them is nothing to take lightly.  Getting half-a-handful of size whatever cup that woman carries (believe, me I have no clue) and having a laugh about it is nothing compared to the crash landing I can expect when I let things slide.

And that’s the truth.

Hey – while you’re checking out Marius’ fantastic writing (he is no doubt one of the best I have seen out here in WP land – no need to be one of us alkies to appreciate his fab, macho libre, boot-to-the-sternum type scribbles), wish him a happy tenth birthday.  Ten years of continuous sobriety.  That’s a frickin’ miracle.  You won’t Beliebe it!  He also serves the best nachos this side of San Marcos de La Fuente Snack and Hack near Los Tanos.  Tell him I sent you.  You’ll get a free lemon-scented sani-wipe. 

27 Comments Add yours

  1. jrj1701 says:

    That is called the conscience healing, for too long I darkened my vision with the abuse of my free will, lies were a form of perverse entertainment, yet as you have noticed once you start doing the real work the conscience decides it ain’t going to be quiet anymore, this has gotten serious and the price for failure can be high, so conscience has set new boundaries and will not put up with my b.s. and that is a very good thing.

    1. JR!! You nailed that…that is, I didn’t know what “that” was until you mentioned it. I love it. Spiritual high five for that one, kind sir. I love what you say about this all. New boundaries indeed. Moving the marker. Making new lines…fantastic. I didn’t know I was doing that, and now it makes sense. Thank you for making sense of this. Blew my mind.


  2. Karen says:

    This made me laugh, Paul! I know what you’re talking about. I’m not as good at justifying my dishonesty the way I used to be. Most alcoholic thinking is black/white but when it comes to lies and manipulation, it’s as gray as we needed it to be.

    1. I agree, Karen – I just can’t rationalize and justify the way I used to. It’s like trying to fit back into the jeans from college days. Nearly impossible and what’s the point? I’ve moved on (and outward!). And you’re right, we can “gray it up” all we want, but in the end I have to see what brings me serenity or takes away from it.

      Thanks for the great comments 🙂


  3. furtheron says:

    Great post – the trying to learn how to be a grown up is still a work in progress for me too.

    1. You and me both, Graham. A very long childhood I had!

      Thanks for stopping by – love having ya here 🙂


      1. furtheron says:

        I have a friend about 30 years sober and in his 70s. He says “I had a great childhood. I’m just surprised how long it seems to be lasting”

  4. The over thinking prattle running around in our heads if in food form would feed millions of children worldwide. Sometimes, though, it’s the dissection this time that makes the flow of normalcy the next.
    Thank God it wasn’t coupled with a wardrobe malfunction!

    1. I read your comment earlier and I was laughing…I LOVE that line about our thoughts in food form…lol. And very apt. I love what you said here, and it’s very true. Calming the mind is what helps me. I can’t say I get there as much as I want, but i am getting there…and that’s all that matters 🙂

      Thanks Linda 🙂


  5. sherryd32148 says:

    I can’t lie. Wait…I CAN lie. As a matter of fact, I’m damn good at it. I’m a GREAT liar. But I can only use my power for good and not evil (you know…Santa, birthdays and other surprises).

    My mother, sister and niece are (were) all compulsive liars. When asked a question, their first response (and I mean their FIRST response) is to lie. They have to actually stop and think and force themselves to tell the truth. It means I grew up among people who lied like it was their job.

    Add to that a practice husband who lied and cheated and you have a woman that not only can’t lie, but can’t tolerate it either.

    It made the drinking easier on the whole because I never had the guilt associated with hiding my drinking but it made it harder on those I love because they saw every ugly detail of it.

    But now it sounds like you’ve come over to my brain. A lie sits in your gut like a partially diegested habanero…well, you get the picture.

    Welcome to painful, no matter what honesty! It’s nice here. We have cookies…and tums.


    PS – I did the whole boob thing once but to a guys and his…uh…package. Humiliation doesn’t even begin to describe how bad I felt.

    1. I am trying not to picture a half-eaten habanero. But it’s burned into my brain. thanks…lol.

      Thank you for welcoming me to the painful. Not always comfortable, but better than the alternative – extremely painful and deadly. I’ll take where we are now. The food is better too.

      I understand about the Santa lies…I tried not to include those. Sometimes there IS a justification of a lie, to spare someone’s feelings sometimes, but try not to muddy the water too much with that.

      I was laughing about the gent’s package you brushed past. When I was 3 yrs old apparently I bit a grown up there…ha ha. If I did that now, that would be an arresting offence (or foreplay, depending on circumstances)

      Oh dear.


  6. Mrs D says:

    I like that from Sherry ‘welcome to painful, no matter what honesty!’.. I love the work that you are doing deep down in the dark recesses of your soul.. and the sharing of that you are doing with us. It’s awesome. And dude.. look at Bieber.. what a lost little boy with no idea about lovely things like respect and decorum. He’s not a patch on you my friend xxx

    1. Yeah, that was a pretty good phrase there she came up with – loved it too! thanks for the kind words, Mrs. D. Means a lot coming from the famous (but not Beiber famous, yet a better kind) Mrs. D. author. Very excited to read your book, whenever it’s ready 🙂

      Love and light, my friend.

  7. big mike says:


    They say you are only as sick as your secrets..which is true. I remember that in early sobriety, it was like the whole world opened up. I was a single 26 year old don juan in a candy store. The world was my oyster, but I had no idea how to handle it, I was running games all over town, but eventually crashed and burned. Me -Mr dry drunk- left a wake of emotional destruction where ever he went. I think I did more emotional damage to people in early sobriety than I did in my entire drinking career.
    I was a lying cheating sob for along time, over 10 years. Beleive me, I did the AA work to rid myself of it, but it wasnt till a near suicide attempt led me to S program. Got to be with the folks who ‘get it. In retrospect, maybe it is a lesson on ‘”not on my time.” Sorry for rambling, dude.

    i I try to be an open book, though the thought of being judged by someone or something is so oppositional to my inner self, it just grates on me. like a cheese grater to the soul. I had to do it. Surrender, Surrender. Surrender, Surrender everything. Over and over again. With people who get it. It becomes alot easier with time. Seems like it is the same shit over and over, though. Today my motivation is to do no harm. Though it is kinda anorexic, Its what it is. Other commenters on this page know what I am talking about, no?

    So how long before we see Marius- the Elmore Leonard of sober blog- get screenwriter credit and you hawking a book on Oprah?

    1. Ramble all you need to, Mike. It’s good for the soul and good for me (and everyone who reads it). I love the “do not harm” mantra. There are some days I certainly wished a do over, but that’s what my 10th step is for. Learning, learning, learning. Surrendering it all up. Try not to step on myself in the process. Get me out of the way. I am getting spoonfuls of those lessons these days, Mike. It’s refreshing, actually. Getting my butt kicked spiritually is good medicine.

      I was laughing just today as yet again I experienced my ego taking more and more blows, and instead of getting my feathers ruffled, I laughed. A good laughter. The kind that says “aha! You see this? This is the good stuff. Keep learning, kiddo”. Every single time I tried to do something ego first, instead of God first, it got flubbed. When I did it God first, it won out. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

      I love what you say about being with others who get it. Been doing that more of lately, and it help to keep it stuck to this brain which forgets the basics so easily. Funny how we just never seem to get the lesson right away?

      And yeah, Marius is gold, isn’t he? Elmore Leonard indeed. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to reading his stuff. Even his comments are incredible to read. Check out his site and just read the comments. It’s a book / screenplay right there. And thanks for the kind words on my scribbles. I try. I find the comments here (like yours here) are what really keep this thing alive for me.


  8. Egad! You bounder! You masher! You cad! Nah, it ain’t that bad. I think the accidental boob grab is one of the more hilarious pranks in The Universe’s joke kit. A guaranteed laff riot. When it happens to other guys. When it happens to me it’s traumatic. Does she REALLY know it was accidental? Sure my intended boob grabs outnumber the unintended ones by almost hundred to one, but THAT one really was accidental. Okay, I have to bring it up again the next time I see her. Make sure she knows it was a counterfeit.
    Oh man, Pauly, this was funny. Except the agonizing about telling the truth part. I could really empathize with you there. And since empathy requires involving me, in some measure, the laughs stopped. Now it was serious.
    It’s interesting how there’s part of us that looks at this new-found need to be honest with irritation and disbelief. “What’s wrong with you? You could lie about bigger stuff than this before breakfast.” But like jrj1701 said, “conscience has set new boundaries.” Which would be a big whatever for me, if it also wasn’t so determined to enforce its border policy–with a gnawing sense of unease. Until I finally fess up.
    Of course, there’s a terrible price to pay when I do. Right? As you experienced by the torrent of torment your wife didn’t unleash. That feeling right there. When you’re clenching your tiny umbrella, waiting for the anvil to crash through…and it doesn’t. The sheer relief! That is one of the best rushes there is.
    I don’t need extreme sports. I just have to go about my day. And be honest.
    That’s about as scary as I need to make life.
    By the way, thank you for the plug. (promotion not can of beans)
    You are a true friend. And that ain’t no lie.

    Stepping away from the sandwich with my hands behind my head, fingers interlaced,

    1. You had me chuckling, guffawing and giggling here. Usual standard practice in one of your comments. Oh yeah, and the whole thinking part. You get me scratching the ol’ melon wondering if I really did get the whole thing. The Wile E. Coyote reference hit home, if you can imagine. This predisposition I have to expecting the worst and flinching when it comes to hammer time and then watching most of my fears evaporate after I spent *good* worry time on them is yet another cosmic joke. Or maybe I am the only one who sees it like that in my own little bubble.

      I certainly can identify with that rush of a day where I come to the moment panting and fretting and having endorphins wash over me like bubbles at the Soap N Suds car wash down there by the bayou, wondering if this whole honesty thing is going to put me in ICU…and really, it is a rush to know that when I go to bed, attaching head to pillow, things are clean. No inside jobs. No hidden treasures. Transparency is getting better here. Doesn’t mean that I don’t fudge something now and then. I have to work on the other things, Marius – the tiny exaggerations, the wee bravado over small nothings, the talling of a tale…those kind of things, because those too are lies, aren’t they? Window dressing for a shabby lobby, when really all it needs is a power wash and elbow grease?

      And hey, no worries on the shout out. Can’t let a decade of pure, uncut, Cali Mari (ha!) go without letting the mariachi band know about it. Strum and hum a tune fer ya. Smack a pinata around. Bake a burrito or two.

      Not as good as a sandwich, but worth fighting for.


  9. Amina C says:

    Great read! I really enjoyed that. I was curious where you were going with the boob grab. Lol! I am happy to say I can’t remember the last time I lied. It feels really good!

    1. Ha ha..sorry for the delay in the boob grab. I wouldn’t just one off that one (oops, bad choice of words) without some sort of purpose…or else it would be a salacious and further embarrassing vignette. I am glad to hear that the lying bug doesn’t sting you much at all these days. The ointment stinks.

      Thanks Amina for being here…always glad to see that downward dog here…lol


  10. Paul, there is not enough memory in WordPress for me to write about all I can relate to in this post. Let’s just sum it up and say: EVERY WORD, especially the part about Marius and his awesome blog! Which, I need to get over to, post haste, because I think I missed his anniversary!

    I literally JUST had an incident (I mean, within the past 30 minutes) where I, in a manner of speaking, told a white lie. I have spent the past 29 minutes rationalizing it, and now I realize I have read this to understand that I need to come clean for myself, not for anyone else, because I will be uneasy until I do.

    And the inadvertent intimacy… can you imagine if that woman read this post? She’d be laughing her a$$ off right now! For sure we make things quite a big bigger in our heads than the rest of the world, so the trick is letting it go (and, for sure, I need to practice to what I am preaching right now!).

    I love what your wife said, we have had similar situations in my house. When we compare our current self to our former self, it’s miraculous stuff!

    1. You’re right, Josie – miraculous stuff indeed. I can certainly justify and rationalize all I want, and the more I do it, the more I realize that there is something going on at the low level that needs fixin’. If something is causing me to rationalize and justify, there is probably something about that thing I did or said that needs investigating.

      I am glad, but not surprised, that you are open to this. I certainly am not all the time, and sometimes I let it “slip”. but really, it’s not slipping – it’s just waiting for me to be found again until I can make it right, make it clean.

      And as for Marius – what’s to say – he’s the bomb. His recent post and his comments show just the kind of man he is. Well spoken and well adored. A dude amongst dudes.

      Thanks Josie – always love your honesty and how you relate so much to all of these things – never alone, are we?

      Love and light,

  11. First of all, reading this made me laugh, all joking aside. I know it wasn’t meant for that, but I couldn’t imagine the title until you wrote, “my hand ended up on her boob.” Methinks this tickled me humor bone… just a bit=)

    Back to the serious part… I can relate to this one on all levels. During my drinking days, I lied so much that I honestly think at one point, I didn’t even know I was doing it anymore. It was almost as if my ego knew I was doing something wrong so it automatically prepared the rest of my persona by justifying any wrong doing I had done. As ashamed as I am now to admit to those acts of deception, I faltered to them and allowed them to ultimately crush any hope of me ever telling the truth.

    You wrote, “Whereas in the past dishonesty was yet another tool for my alcoholism to live another day, an easy breezy skill (albeit guilt-laden) meant to enable my selfishness and self-centeredness to carry forth and crown itself champ again.” Looking back, I think about how lonely I really was by allowing my lies to disengage my sensitivity toward others. Our lies not only get us into trouble, but they slowly pick apart every single ounce of integrity we own. By the end of my alcoholism, I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore.

    It’s incredible how different things are when we remove the drinks thus taking away the urges to lie. The mistakes I made back then I would never repeat or even think about making today now that I’m sober. This is not to say that we should be eternally sentenced for our past faults… for our lapse of truly being able to rhyme and reason with the truth was ultimately our punishment.

    I can’t say it enough but again, it’s been a pleasure, Paul. So much to take from all of your thoughts… remarkable, of course.

    1. I love what you say here Gina…so much to mine, but I will keep it brief.

      “This is not to say that we should be eternally sentenced for our past faults… for our lapse of truly being able to rhyme and reason with the truth was ultimately our punishment”. This. Almost all my anxiety and panic came from the lying, the secretive nature of my alcoholism and my actions. It was this going counter to my true self that grated me raw. And yet, I didn’t stop. My alcoholism needed me to continue the charade. It was awful. And it has taken me time to get to a place where lying isn’t on the menu. And when I do lie, it does eat me up.

      So many of us will lie even when the truth would serve us better! How insane is that? I can only laugh because it’s true. This is not just an alcoholic thing – but anyone who feels they need to create a facade through dishonesty can attest to this.

      What you said about that fuzzy line between true and false…I get that too. Sometimes I didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t true. It was all a huge ugly stew. Add into that justification and we’re set.

      Thank you for your sharing here…I get just as much from you as you would me. 🙂

      Love and light,

  12. stacilys says:

    Ok, stop the press Paul! That was absolutely brilliant. You made me laugh. Right from the start with the Justin Bieber photo. HAHAHAHAHA!

    “Something to remind me that we’re not robots, that we have hearts and minds and spirits that enjoy camaraderie and a sense of belonging.”
    –I love this. It’s so true. We have been made for relationship.

    “Typical me, going to either extremes.”
    –Opa! (as we say in Brazil when something big happens). I am the Queen with a capital ‘Q’ when it comes to going to extremes. I confess I’ve gotten much better, but I have to attribute my growth to marrying a strong left brained individual and the work of God in my life. I used to be a roller coaster.

    I love that you’ve gotten your conscience back. Who ever said there wasn’t such a thing as ‘sin’ (oh, did I really write that? Maybe I’m stepping on some toes here). But seriously, we all have this precious gift called conscience, but it’s so easy to harden it. Yours has become soft again. That’s awesome.

    Thanks for a super post Paul. Really enjoyed reading it.

    Blessings =)

    1. Thanks Staci…glad you got a laugh out of it 🙂

      Glad that you’re off the roller coaster on the on the little kiddie rides, where they have those little cars that go slowly and meander all over the woods and the kids pretend that they’re driving, but it’s just a merry stroll on wheels. Balance is something that eludes me, but I too am getting better. All or nothing thinking still clouds my mind at times (example – today: I have been feeling off, stomach flu perhaps, and think – ok from this point on, only fresh veggies, no this, no that, blah blah blah. I put myself on this strict diet [which I already broke] over a tiny little thing).

      I love the visual of hardening one’s conscious. I never thought of all this until you guys started commenting…this is why I think that so many Opa! moments happen here. Community – feeding one another. And you have fed me this now. And for that, I am grateful 🙂

      Thanks for being here Staci…always a pleasure seeing you here 🙂


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