Personal Column: Stop the side-pokes and leave me alone!

October 21, 2008 — by Sophia Cooper

It’s become an easy source of entertainment. You can access it any place where there are people. It’s guaranteed to bring laughter, shrieks and possibly make you cry.

What is it? The side-poke.

Being rather spastic, I often fall victim to this personal attack. People have found it entertaining to poke my side and see the resulting tsunami of flailing arms and legs. Even as I’m writing this story, I’m squished between two reporters who are constantly poking me. Thanks,
Jordan and Nathan!

The typical reactions can also cause physical injuries. When in the process of squirming away from my attacker, I have hit my head, knuckles, knees, feet and elbows on objects (or people) nearby. It’s dangerous to be within a 7-foot radius of me.

For some reason, it’s usually guys who initiate this modern-day torture. Maybe it’s an attempt to compensate for their lack of flirting abilities, or maybe they still think girls have cooties and they’re afraid to have an actual conversation. FYI: We’re more likely to talk to you if you don’t make us spazz out.

When I used to complain to my mom about the preschool bully chasing me around the playground, she told me “Well, dear, they can’t chase you if you don’t run.” My proposed solution to this epidemic of spasms: Stop reacting.

It is our natural human instinct to coil away from the side pokes; therefore, we need persistence and determination to take down this poke-fest. Where would we be if we simply let our challenges beat us?

If the colonists had simply let Great Britain tax them without representation, the United States of America might not exist. Martin Luther King fought the system and helped gain full rights for African Americans. Elle Woods stood up for blondes everywhere when she turned down Professor Callahan and won Brooke Windham’s murder trial. Side-pokes are our generation’s challenge.

So fight against it! Resist the urge to not only to spazz out, but also poking others. Follow the golden rule: Do unto others as you would do unto you.

But if you still get side-poked, try a convenient spazz-punch to your attacker’s nose. That ought to teach ‘em.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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