Hugging And Cringing

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I’ve confused people. They can’t tell if I’m socially awkward or socially inept.

Which reminds me of that old sports quote from a coach to a player, “Son, are you ignorant or apathetic?”  The reply?  “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Anyway, I’m kinda both – especially when it comes to hugging.  The bro hug is that thing that starts as a classic handshake and morphs into a kind of shoulder bump, half hug.  I don’t really get who you’re supposed to go bro with.  A really good friend might be someone who hates freaking hugging and that’s one of the reasons he’s a really good friend.  Or he’s such a good friend you don’t want to do a bro hug because it seems phony or too common.  You see guys meeting for the first time and they go in for the bro and I’m like, whoa.  Jeez, ya just met, really?

It’s become a social norm and I remain abnormal.

A hug suggests affection.  When I say hello I want to be polite, not affectionate.

It’s not a macho thing.  I just don’t want a hug.  I chalk it up to being Irish.  The closest thing to a hug is saying something nice behind someone’s back.

I can be envious of others who fully embrace the embrace.  My brother-in-law is a full-fledged hugmeister.  He zooms right past bro to bear hug.  He’s all in, practically promiscuous.

It took me a decade or three but I’ve gotten used to his arms surrounding me. By now, if I just shook his hand it would be awkward, and that’s all I’m trying to avoid—being awkward—which sometimes makes me awkward. Ya follow?

Bro hugs, bear hugs…whatever happened to nodding your chin at someone?  And every now and then a guy gives me a kiss like I’m one of the Sopranos.  That’s just wrong. 

I’m ok with fist bumps.  Casual, quick.  No worrying about how hard to grip like with a handshake.  And you don’t have to worry about someone bringing you to your knees with a vice grip or being skeeved out by somebody giving you a dead fish handshake.

The guy greeting is tricky but I can get over it.  But with ladies, I’m the worst. Do I shake hands, do I air kiss, kiss on the cheek?  Or maybe a light hug?  I don’t know.  I’m cringing right now, as I type, at all the times I’ve cringed wondering if I took the right approach.  I’ve done a cheek peck upon hello and then switched to a handshake on the goodbye because the greeting kiss seemed off.  The handshake doesn’t make things right.  The cringe lingers.  It’s brutal. 

Ladies, can we just stick to a high five?

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