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Touching the Queen

Agriculture.com Staff 04/10/2009 @ 12:31pm

Did you hear the fuss about Michelle Obama touching the Queen of England?

Okay, I'm a little reluctant to write about this subject. The last time I wrote about the British Isles, I made some subtle observations about how I found the sight of someone pasting peas onto the back of their fork with their knife mildly amusing.

Big mistake. That one column generated the single largest volume of hate mail ever, if you don't include that deranged duck hunter in Alabama who wanted me fired. He did generate a lot of hate mail, but all of it was from him.

Since I didn't want any more letters from little old ladies in Wales ("I'm not an American, at least I don't eat with my fingers...), I resolved never to write about the British again.

But geez, folks, what's up with not touching the Queen? Queens need hugs, don't they?

I can understand royalty wanting to keep a little distance from the peasants in the good old days. There was that whole guillotine thing in France, and Mary, Queen of Scots and King Charles I had a few bad moments from letting folks get too close to them. And I can see why there might be some reluctance on the part of royalty to mingle -- one minute you're exchanging high fives at a football game and the next you’re in the Tower of London watching as some sweaty oaf sharpens his axe. It's just best to smile and wave from behind a curtain of bodyguards or those guys in the tall fuzzy helmets.

Plus, in the old days nobody wanted to get too close to a crowd, what with the Black Plague and bedbugs, but those times are long gone. Over the past thousand years or so the standards of personal hygiene have evened up considerably.

To tell the truth, I'm kind of on the Queen's side here. I'm not much of a hugger myself. After a quarter century as a pig farmer, non-hugging came fairly easily to me -- it's not like there were folks lining up, eager to get within arms reach of me. After a while it gets to be a habit -- people come over to say hello and you smile and wave from the corner. I never had a screen of bodyguards or guys in tall fuzzy hats; the faint smell of hog manure and disinfectant performed the same function.

But I have a little tip for the queen. I think all those years of standoffishness were a mistake. There's enough distance in this world, enough of the cold and lonely for all of us. We pass through this world but once, and the difficulty of that passing can be eased by a friendly touch or a gentle hug. If you're going to spend all your time worried about a knife in the back, you're probably missing more than you can afford.

Of course, if I'm wrong, you can still call for the guys in the fuzzy hats.

Copyright 2009 Brent Olson

Did you hear the fuss about Michelle Obama touching the Queen of England?

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