Friday, November 9, 2007

Intimacy gang signs

I was just talking about this with someone I totally dig, and I thought I would share it with you too (and her again...umm, sorry for the redundancy).

A couple years ago I was attending a church that was made up of mostly older people. So in an effort to meet people my own age I went to this 20's and 30's church group for the first time. They met in an artsy dark theatre. It was a bit intimidating, but my friend N, who later became my bible study leader and my "let's go on a silent retreat with God" friend was speaking that night so I stayed. Besides N of course, the other thing I remember, and in fact may never ever forget, was a most curious mixer game. In fact, it was the most odd mixer game I have ever played. Before I tell you how it works I would like to say, for those of you who hate mixers imagining being forced to play this may cause light headedness.

Here's how it went. We all got in two circles an inside circle and an outside circle each with the same amount of people. Everyone was standing less than two feet from the person they were facing. There was a leader who called out "move" from time to time. When the leader called out move the inside circle moved clockwise and the outside circle moved counter clockwise.

What we did after each move is what I like to call throwing intimacy gang signs. It's pretty much a relational version of rock, paper, scissors, except the symbols were the following. Using our hands when she blew a whistle of some sort we, at the same time, threw up one to three fingers.

One finger: = Eye contact (we were to look at the person until they said move)
Two fingers = We shook hands with each other
Three fingers = We hugged

There was only one rule: Lowest number always wins.

Keep in mind I had never met any of these people before. There were about 50 of us. I tended to throw up more three's when facing a girl, although eye contact was super fun sometimes too. And I remember one guy got really crabby when I threw a two and he threw a three.

I don't totally know why this helps me when I think about intimacy and negotiating what two people want and need in relationships. But I just like it. Can you imagine walking into a room and everyone throwing up numbers pre-greeting each other. It makes a funny picture. It would never work and is totally cheesy but sometimes it would sure be convenient. We could even add other numbers like: 4 = kissing. .....

Intimacy gang signs would also be really useful for cultural situations. Like my semi-embarrassing moment I had the other day. I was touring around this woman I met at that conference who lives in Amserdam. I went to hug her to say goodbye, and being from Europe she went to kiss my cheek. It was a little awkward.

O and by the way, I am currently throwing up a 3 at all of you!

As a total unrelated postscript, I watched parts of the movie "Fingersmith" last night. Fingersmith meaning stealing. And I had a hard time watching the movie so I fast-forwarded to the end. But then the end upset me so much that I had to meditate for 30 minutes to get to sleep.


Nicole said...

i SO remember this night. i about died when the mixer started. great way to make people feel comfortable. you're right, though, it was memorable and made an impression. i've thought about it several times since. love your title for it:"intimacy gang signs", so fitting. what i love more is that you stayed, toughed it out and ended up becoming a cornerstone of our little eclectic group, sorting through life together. i'll never forget those days, some of the most beautiful moments of intimacy and sharing...

your heart is beyond gorgeous! know that i'm throwing up a 3 every time with you, my dearest!

Liadan said...

I read Fingersmith a while back. I highly enjoyed the book, so I suppose I'll have to see the movie now so I can complain about everything they left out.