The Alphabet Game

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The first time I felt IT, I was seven-years-old. It was during my birthday slumber party and as my friends and I settled into our sleeping bags for the night, someone suggested that we pair off and play The Alphabet Game. In case you have never heard of this popular sleepover pastime, the object of The Alphabet Game is to trace letters on your partner’s back and then allow them the opportunity to guess which one it is. (In another variation on this game, the letters should spell out an entire word.) It is either a very soothing or annoying experience depending on the touch of one’s partner, but in this case, my partner was a girl with light fingers and gentle penmanship who traced the letters so perfectly on my back, I thought there was lined paper printed on my nightgown.

Before long, a strange, tingly feeling came over me that I never wanted to end. I was so warm, fuzzy and happy that I actually started to guess the wrong letters in order for her to trace them again and again. (Please tell me that I am not the only person to have done this or I am going to feel really badly about it.) I secretly wished that she would spell out “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and just knock me out completely.

A few months later, I discovered that my teenaged babysitter could also conjure this mind-melting feeling inside of me by brushing my hair or putting on my socks. While I have learned that hair brushing is one of the top triggers for tingle heads, I have no explanation for the socks. I don’t have a foot fetish of any kind so I have to assume that there was something about the way her fingernails hit the pads of my feet that did something to me. My mother, who had no nails, put my socks on every day, but she did not have the same effect on me. However, when the babysitter did it, my brain would turn to jelly and I would suddenly ache for a nap.

While I found the experience more than a little strange, I didn’t really question it. It was a bit like discovering your birthmark – it’s news to you, but you know deep down that you are not the only person on the planet who has one. I assumed that whatever this feeling was, everyone else could feel it too. What I didn’t know, but would learn in time is just how wide and varied my unique experience was and that it was entirely possible that I had the same effect on other people as well.

Until next week, tingle on!



Julie Young
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