Peter Cavanaugh

Hands to yourself

“Don’t hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself” – Georgia Satellites (1986)

It’s too late to do much about it anyway, but I’d like to believe I’ve had more than my fair share of forbidden flesh in the 76 years I’ve been spinning around our sun. I’m still just not sure how much fair might be and exactly what’s forbidden.

As an Irish Catholic lad attending parochial school in the early 50s, I can tell you what I was originally told was forbidden flesh. Everything. Even my own.

Desiring pleasure brought the same guilt as finding it. Wanting to” was “doing it” with an identical penalty – burning in the flaming fires of hell for all eternity. And – what burns the hottest – is the part you’ve sinned with. I’m not making this up.

There was even a fancy word that summed it all up. “Concupiscence.” That was defined in the catechism (“rule book”) as “a natural desire for sensual evil.” Father Dan Berrigan, S.J. thought this was stupid and had us write “or good” after the word “evil” in our Theology textbooks at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. That took care of that.

I decided way back then that appropriate sexual conduct comes down to responsible behavior, common decency and mutual consent.

The indisputable fact remains that males of our species are genetically predisposed to initiate an act that rhymes with “Tex.” See? Echoes from the past still haunt my psyche. But romantic mechanics in getting things started have happily evolved upward through time from a hair drag in the cave to a bent knee lowered in humble petition - King Kong to Prince Harry.

Nevertheless, we now witness a sudden cascade of caustic castigation as accusations of impropriety are levied against dozens of iconic male figures. Such charges offering easily definable variance in severity of offense despite nonsensical demands for “zero tolerance” in certain batty circles. Please. A passing posterior is not the Ark of the Covenant. One shouldn’t die for touching it. A sound slap? Sure.

What a roll call. Among the better-known accused Media types are Dustin Hoffman, Russell Simmons, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Ben Affleck, Nick Carter, Louis C.K., Richard Dreyfuss, Sylvester Stallone, and even Garrison Keeler. Skinny-dipping in Lake Wobegon?

There are politicians, preachers, cops and teachers. Sailors, jailers, priests and tailors. Young and old, brave and bold. George H. W. Bush, our 41st president, claims his favorite magician is “David Cop-a-Feel.” Really. Trump frump Sarah Sanders says her boss, currently president by divine misfortune, does not lie - especially about women.

In my mind there’s a vast difference between the criminal activities alleged of casting couch lizard Harvey Weinstein and a few ill positioned squeezes by Senator Al Franken at the Minnesota State Fair. That “playful” picture on the plane leaving the Gulf in the old dark comedy days didn’t help matters any. Rod Stewart was right. Every picture does tell a story, especially if it’s not the one intended.

Senator Al was sacrificed on the altar of political expediency by sister senators of Democratic persuasion who wanted a better shot at Judge Roy Moore without being encumbered by a bothersome brother.

Even though Franken had been an outstanding advocate of women’s rights since his earliest days in office, he had to go. From a tactical perspective, this is probably true. In other ways, I’m not so sure.

It seems that some ladies can be as rough and tough as the boys.

That’s fine with me and comes as no surprise.

I remember those nuns.

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