Have you ever wondered about the relationship between those two girls that just walked by holding hands? Or the motivations of the sweaty wrestlers, locked limb-in-limb? Then you are a fledgling touchologist. After extensive observation of not only the interactions of others, but also my own experiences and feelings, I have come to classify all human physical interaction (hereafter described as 'touching') in one, or a combination thereof, of the following four categories:

Social: This is the predominate form of touching in society. It can be incidental, such as the uncomfortable jostling one receives on the subway, bus, or crowded street. A nice firm handshake is also a social necessity. Some touching which could at first glance appear to lay in another category, such as oil massages, very often actually lay in the social realm. An argument for placing all paid-for touching in this category has merit.

Violent: This form of touching is the black sheep of enlightened touchologists who believe touching can be used for the good of humanity. The purpose of violent touching is to harm, or gain power over another individual. While being the recipient of a violent touch can make your day a bad one, giving that annoying neighbor with the stuck-on-full-volume amplifier a knuckle sandwich can be most gratifying.

Intimate: Touching is a fantastic and accepted way to express emotional affection. While other touchologists might disagree, I have found most of this type of behavior is conducted in private. While PDA's (public displays of affection) are common, in American society in general, PDA's are brief as to not cause nausea in bystanders. Examples include hugging a long lost friend and cuddling with your honey before a nap.

Sexual: Often only the two (or more) folks engaged in this sort of act of touching are able to tell the difference between sexual and intimate touching. While kissing your grandmother on the cheek is clearly intimate, or even social, kissing your cousin on the mouth could land in either category, depending on the emotional issues surrounding the participants. Hasty classification is not recommended without further research.

Hours can be spent observing behavior and attempting to classify the way people touch. Try to find the touching act which encompasses all four categories!