I've realized recently how much you can tell about people in your life by the way they hug. My husband Lloyd and I are very affectionate with each other partly because we like to hug and kiss and partly because it skeeves our children. My one daughter in particular, Carly, always attempts to wedge her entire 62 pound self between us to pry us apart. She was probably the only child ever to secretly wish for a crowbar for their twelfth birthday who is not on the FBI's radar. It's her fault that our G-rated hugs sometimes go further down the alphabet in front of our kids. In an attempt to not have her succeed in pulling us apart, Lloyd will grab onto whatever part of me he can. (You're right. Now that I'm typing it, it does seem like an obvious ploy on his part.) Sometimes he will even fuel Carly's fire. She'll be in her room minding her own business doing her homework and Lloyd will yell up the stairs: "Carly, I'm home! And I'm about to kiss Mommy!" The interesting thing is that neither my husband nor I grew up in a home where our parents ever hugged, kissed, or even held hands. So of course back then I always thought that parents showing affection to each other was normal only on sitcoms. I once was at my friend's house in high school and saw her parents kissing and flirting. I said to my friend: "What is this like a second marriage thing?"
But I'm not comfortable hugging everybody. Let's face it, nobody is comfortable hugging people whom you know are not "huggers"... like my sister and my father-in-law. They both hug from three feet away like I'm still eight months pregnant. They don't squeeze. They sort of just tap your back with their hands. It's about as warm and fuzzy as hugging a cinder block.
And what about friends? Anyone else still stumped on what the protocol is when you run into a friend on the street or meet up with someone you haven't seen in a while? I always get it wrong. I over think. In that three seconds it takes to visually identify the person and make my way over there, I've already weighed the eighty possible scenarios: "Oh geez, is this the one who kisses one cheek? Or is she the one who kisses both cheeks like we're in France? No, wait, I think she's a double hand grabber. Or is this the one who hugs? I guess she'll hug over and I'll go under because I'm shorter. And remember the number one unwritten rule: If we have an accidental boob bump, neither party will ever ever mention it. And then what do I do with her boyfriend? What's currently acceptable for a woman hugging a straight male friend? Do I shake his right hand and put my left arm around his back like another guy would? Or do I hug him like when I G-rate hug Lloyd and then forever wonder if he was trying to cop a feel like Lloyd does? When you see someone you know approaching and know it's going to end in an embrace, I say: Yell out instructions: "Grab both hands! Kiss right cheek!" For me, it might clear up all of my indecisiveness which typically results in something closer to a mugging than a greeting.
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"Laughing IS Conceivable: No Matter How Many You're Carrying". Insanity in its Infancy
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