Or, more appropriately, the human factor.

I sympathize with Joe Biden’s “victims”. Not because of how they perceive his well-meaning approach to human connecting as invasive or because of the media circus they have generated. I sympathize with them because I too feel my personal space is invaded repeatedly on a daily basis though I never mustered the courage to make a big deal about it. “Get on with it,” a friend once told me, “learn to put up with well-intentioned non-premeditated behavior.”

I’m sure you realize that touch is only one of the five senses with which individuals invade other’s spheres of comfort. So how would you feel about these examples?

-You are dining in a restaurant, ready to savor the branzino al sale in front of you. A tall dark-haired woman, dressed all in black with a dash of red under her shoes and on her lips, brushes your right arm on her way to a nearby table. She does not rest her well-manicured black-enameled hand on your shoulder in a show of benevolence, but she manages to obliterate your nostrils (and the taste of your branzino) with the trailing fumes of her hideously invasive perfume. Perhaps well-intentioned, but certainly premeditated behavior. If she’s a candidate for a political position, should you disqualify her because of this experience?

-Your neighbors enjoy a little levity with friends on a terrace with drinks, loud chitchat and deafening music. You are trying to catch-up on your lost sleep and angrily realize it’s well past the bewitching hour. Perhaps still well-intentioned (though with a tinge of rebellion), but obviously pre-meditated behavior. Do you call the police?

-You are on public transport and are forced to face urban bullies who need to push their way in at all costs as the train doors are closing. This can be a triple- or quadruple-whammy: certainly unwanted touching, often unpleasant odors, always invasion of personal space and sometimes even a sprinkle of wet whatever. A clear case of ill-intentioned pre-meditated behavior. Do you stop the train and ask for compensation?

-You are walking on a street and your path is blocked by a car parked on the sidewalk, forcing you to rub against the building to make it through. Need a sledge-hammer, or a knife for the tires?

-You are about to exit an the elevator but cannot because when the doors open someone looking at his phone marches right in, bumping you aside. Want an ax?

With all due respect to “offended” parties, these situations are really all around us and my friend was right in suggesting I suck it up. In the field of human empathy, Joe Biden perhaps is somewhat out of synch with current times – certainly with current hysterias. But surely we can find more substantial issues to disqualify him. After all our current President of the United States is publicly known for thinking women enjoy having their you-know-what grabbed.

Roberto Plaja, April 7, 2019

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