Thursday, June 02, 2011

On Hugs

There is no word that fully communicates the fabulousness of a hug.

Hug. Embrace. Clasp. Enfold. 

Yeah, the word itself is kind of awkward. And perhaps this is because hugs can be awkward. Very often are.

I am opinionated about hugs. I like hugs a little bit.

Okay, maybe a lot a bit.

Hugs are places where one doesn't need to be or do anything. It is a physical gesture of complete acceptance and approval. It is a gesture of mutual safety and comfort. It says that the day is good because that person is there. It

I approve of hugs across genders, amongst genders, between the generations, between friends, between family, between enemies, etc.

One of the things I miss about India is the constant hugging from the little girls and the kisses they gave so freely.

There are some who are blessed with the most wonderful hugging abilities.

I disapprove of lackluster huggers. These fall into several categories:
1) The draper. This is the one who just places the arms around the other person as if their arms were laundry to drape over a laundry line in the back yard. It says, "I acknowledge your existence but only because you were awkward enough to initiate your enthusiasm for life in hugging me first." Ouch.

2) The wet sheet. This is oddly likened to the draper. Close cousins. Maybe even fraternal twins. But still not the same beast. This is the one who hugs but just uses the forearm to lightly touch the other person. Don't want to make things awkward so we'll go with hardly touching. But it says: "You are a gross human being and I don't want to touch you because I'll get germs." Then all I can think about is whether I am getting germs from the other person and then I feel dirty because that person didn't want to touch me. Oh no... did I not shower well enough? I brushed my teeth, right? Ew. Not welcoming at all.

3) The side huger. Completely baffling because if you want to hug a person you might as well do the thing right. Someone goes in for a real hug and then gets half of the person's body? Totally confusing. Then the pressure application gets thrown off, no equilibrium, and everyone wishes they had just gone for a hand shake with that person they've known for years (so it would have been inappropriate and awkward anyway). Handshakes are another rant for another time. This is sometimes (inexplicably to me) encouraged as a way to avoid awkardness and not miscommunicate. How is that even achieved when everyone is left with lackluster hellos?

Some notes on quality hugs:
1) They will come consistently and spontaneously, expected and unexpected. Often as possible. Hugs are humanity glue. So maybe this is just for those of us who have touch as our #1 love language. But even you who hate hugs: please accept us for who we are. We'll not hug you if you don't like it. Everyone else, deal with it.

2) Will involve both arms of both people (surprise hugs are exceptions). If there is a great height difference, I recommend shorter person hugging waist, and tall person hugging shoulders. All others can alternate which arm goes up and which arm goes down.

3) Use some laws of physics: all force has an equal and opposite reaction. Or something like that. Matching the hug in pressure will make it work. If the person is a bear-hugger... well, I have nothing. Just hold your breath so your ribs aren't pushed in and crack.

And hugs can be varied. One of my favorite hug variations: being picked up and spun while being hugged.  Other favorites include the "tackle hug" which was perfected by Chrissy Nettekoven and Jen Davidson during their highschool years. I have since perfected it on Jamie Zachavitch. 

Now go hug someone!


Mooney said...

For number 2, I enjoy hugging the head instead of shoulders

Elizabeth Estell said...

Along with not having to be or do anything, one of my favorite parts of a hug is that you don't have to SAY anything - the hug says it all. It says hello, goodbye, I love you, I'm sorry, congratulations, I'm happy to see infinite number of things can be communicated with just a hug. *sigh* I love hugs...especially yours.

Megan said...


Touch is very high up there on my love languages list. I LOVE hugs. And this made me miss yours :)

Though I was once reprimanded by my friend Ryan, who gives fabulous hugs: "My sister said that Christians always give awkward side hugs. You just did." Please note that I had a music binder in one hand and would have smacked him in the back with it if I'd given him a proper hug. But after that comment, of course I put down said binder and we did it properly.

Another of my favorite hug variations: the surprise hug from behind.

And a Julia-ism, just to make you smile: "My hug tank is empty! I need a hug."

Love you :)