The Art of Hugging.

There are two camps.

Huggers.

Non-huggers.

95% of the time I am not a hugger.  That is unless your on the approved hugger list and allowed inside my personal force field.

How do you know if you’re on the approved list?  I have a genuine look of happily giving / receiving the hug.  Another clue is I haven’t grabbed my cell phone to pretend I have a call coming in to dodge your hug.  Nor have I turned around and walked away, pretending to hear someone calling my name from across the street.

Seriously, I wear an invisible hula hoop sized force field around my mid section that prevents people from getting in too close.  Arms length is ideal.  You take one step towards me and I take two back.  It’s a whole new type of two-step dance.

It’s not to say I don’t like hugging.  Hugs are an important part of our interpersonal connection with each other.  There are some people I hug every time I see them.   Others I would hug all day if I could.  Still, there are some people I would prefer remain on the outside of the hugging arena.  Beyond arm’s reach.  Thank you.

It turns out I’m a picky hugger.  My hugs aren’t flung around like breath mints in a dance club, I’m selective in who I share them with in life.  Some people realize this about me and will actually ask me if it’s okay to hug me first.  Love that!  It especially throws them for a loop if I initiate the hug.   If you get one, hang on to it, it could be sold on eBay in later years as vintage collectible interpretive artwork.

Occasionally, I let the force field down without warning and it shocks the hell out of my friends.  Especially those who have never received a hug from me themselves.  Imagine going up and down the Costco aisles with me when all of a sudden I yell out this guy’s name and run up and give him a hug.  My friend’s lower jaw actually hit the shopping cart as I ran off to hug this stranger.  He was speechless.

When I returned to the cart he could only utter short sentences in disbelief:

Really?

You’re hugging strangers.

And they’re old.

But you won’t hug me?

Did you even know that guy?

Really?

With my big cognac colored eyes blinking innocently, what can I say?  It was a long-lost friend.  Honest.  I still haven’t lived this moment down with him.

Those who know me know I’m generally not going to initiate a hug, which leads to a bit of enjoyment when they see a known hugger coming at me.  The moment of their enjoyment is preceeded by my exclamation of, “oh here comes a hug” which leads to a snort from the group.

There are people who are champion huggers and would hug anyone, anything at any time.  That’s great and I’ll accept your hug, as that’s the polite thing to do.  It’s people I don’t know very well – neighbors, second cousins, friend of friends… who hug me upon greeting.  Makes me sweat when they start heading my way.

Speaking of dispensing hugs.  I have mastered a way to avoid a hug entirely.  Simply follow these steps:

1.  Place target in sites and mentally prepare to accept hug.

2.  As target approaches, open up your arms as if to embrace target with loud exclamation of how good it is to see them.

3.  Quickly put forward your right hand for a handshake and with your left hand place it on their should or elbow, depending on your height, to stop advance.  Press firmly with left hand to apply hug brake.

4.  Engage handshake.  Avoid hug.

It works, I’ve done it.  Trust me.

Once you’ve figured out a hug is coming, and you’ve decided to accept the hug, the next hurdle is what kind of hug to dispense.  A full frontal hug or a sideways hug?  Yes, these are things non-huggers contemplate within the 5 seconds of a hug being launched.

It’s too much.

Personally, my size is an issue.  I’m short.  Barely 5’2 on a good day.  Tall people (nearly everyone else)  have to fold up like a Praying Mantis to hug me.  Others have an inexplicable urge to pick me up.  Please don’t.  My size also lines up perfectly with boobs.  Talk about uncomfortable, unless you’re into woman’s boobs…it’s awkward.  I’ll just stick with being familiar with my own boobs, thanks.  What’s even worse is if you get a long-term hugger and you try to release but they’re still hugging you and you’re squished into their boobs.  Where’s the release lever?  Don’t make me tap you on the shoulder and say, “excuse me but your time is up.”

Note:  Exception to the long-term hugger issue above:  If it’s a sexy, fit and handsome guy whose is doing an extended hug…well then that’s okay I’ll hug back for however long.

Don’t even get me started on the sideways hug issues.  With my height, I tuck in very nicely under the arm pit.  I mean really.  Three words:

Arm.

Pit.

Heat.

Which reminds me, I need to tell you about my recent experience on Alaska Airlines….speaking of pit heat.  That’s for another time.

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