essays

Unnatural Acts?

huggerI am not a natural hugger. Maybe I missed out on the touchy-feely gene. In fact, no one in my immediate family is big on hugging, so the genetic explanation for my lack of hugging instincts may be more than a feeble theory.

For some reason, I have become a late-in-life hugger. Either Iím trying to figure out what I have been missing out on all these years or aliens have taken control of my brain. Whatever the case, you can tell that I really lack experience. I keep going in the wrong direction when someone is zeroing in with a hug. I think they will go to left and instead they go to the right. This results in awkward head bumping while everyone readjusts their final trajectory to move in for the squeeze.

It appears that a lot of young men do a shoulder bump-handshake hug (apparently called an A-frame hug), but that involves logistics that would only further complicate my ability to pull off the greeting. And letís just pretend that chest bumping never happened, okay?

So whatís up with the hug anyway? From a noviceís perspective I can say that it is a great way to pick up on someoneís personal scent. You get a pretty good idea of what soap theyíre using (if any) or what perfume they have on while your nose hovers over the back of their neck. And speaking of necks, you get a great view of it when youíre locked in a longer than usual clinch. I find that Pamela AndersonI like to get in and get out pretty quickly, but then Iím not a natural hugger.

Some people seem to hug with only the top 10 percent of their chest. You have to bend your upper torso quite far so that only your collar bones are touching and maybe a cheek brush on the way in, but not too much action with the arms (how can it be a hug without arms?). It seems half-hearted to me. If you really want to minimize the contact, why hug at all?

Deciding who gets a hug and who gets a really, really warm handshake is another point of friction. Do we hug only family and friends? What about a client with whom you have a very warm relationship? If you hug them once, do you hug them every time thereafter? Maybe all these questions are just symptomatic of my hugaphobia.

All I can tell you for sure is that if I ever meet Pamela Anderson, you can bet that Iím going to give her a very, very big hug.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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