Hugs: An introduction to the pitfalls
Yes, I’m sure it is all very nice to hug people. I even do it (Shh! Don’t tell!) but that doesn’t mean I can’t have hang ups about it, does it? It doesn’t mean that I don’t fall down the cultural gap between the train and the platform sometimes. Easily misjudged.
First of all there is my height. I am pretty short, truth be told. This has caused hugging problems in the past. Either my nose gets crushed into someone’s chest, or I go the other way and flip up my head and hope against hope that I don’t snap my windpipe. But usually it’s only a lapel badge in the eyelid.
Then there is my crisis about motivation – my eternal search for the ‘why’ in the situation. Why is this person hugging me? Why, after many happy, happy years in a hug free universe did we all slip simultaneously into this quest for mutual cosiness?
I am all for (well, I ‘get’ the idea) of embracing the bereaved, greeting an old friend, congratulating – all these hugging contexts make sense and, I think, always have.
It is the other ones.
In general greetings and partings in life, I am perhaps too happy to skip the transitional phase. Surely, you may think, I could just shake off the hugging awkwardness and wade on in there, after having perhaps invested in some neck-saving high heels. But should I?
And then there is the air-kissing thing. It was all fine until the mid nineties when it all went kind of European and the one air kiss turned into sometimes-it’s-one-side-and-sometimes-it’s-two. Fraught with problems. What if you go to the wrong side? What if you don’t know it if its a one side or a two side? What’s the rest of your anatomy supposed to be doing? What if it all goes wrong and you end up with your nose in the ear of someone you’ve only just met?
Why not just not do the hugging and kissing?
The problem is that some people hug, some people don’t, some people are undecided and no one knows precisely the level of hug tolerance of everyone they meet – leading to an infinite amount of possible clashes of hug-related compatibility! Oh the stress!
You see someone approach, looking enthusiastic to meet you. Do you adjust your head to optimum height, based on the level of their shoulder? Do you pucker up, all set to go “Mwah!” into their ear while remembering to keep all your saliva to yourself? Do you decide to go with the right arm above theirs, and the left below? Or is it the other way? Or can you just go one-sided and mid-way to hedge your bets? In all the confusion, do you accidentally elbow them in the ribs and knock off their glasses with your nose?
To be continued. Not necessarily tomorrow.