Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

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.




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15 thoughts on “Hugs: An introduction to the pitfalls

  1. I see your point, we have similar problems here. I am not a hugged unless you are a very close friend and even then I don’t initiate. I like the French method, we discuss first when unsure. Shake hands and after enjoying company ask if it is okay to exchange the two sided kiss. Nice and orderly.

  2. Made a nice comment, here, but it disappeared!
    The main drift was: I’m happy if I don’t end with my nose in someone’s armpit!

  3. I enjoyed your dance post but didn’t comment because I love to dance and didn’t want to say that in case it implied I disapproved of those who won’t or can’t dance…which brings me to awkward social situations. I’m a handshaker. Don’t kiss me; don’t hug me, unless we shared a womb, a child, a bloodline or many years of friendship.

  4. theotheri on said:

    What a relief to know I’m not the only one.

  5. Air kissing is far more complex than once or twice; in Holland it’s three times, in some places it’s four. In my experience, air kissing doesn’t go hand in hand with hugs, more with close, warm handclasps. And I much prefer a hug to having my hand gripped by someone with sweaty palms! Loved your description of the angst that precedes an air kiss 🙂

  6. Get out of my personal space man. I don’t do touchy feely as greeting and parting. Firm handshake is as far as I go. I seem to have some kind of force field though because I rarely get unwanted hugs.

    Maybe no one wants to hug me…

  7. So, what is a space cat and what are their armpits like? 😦

    More “pit”falls here than one might care to think of…

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