To Hug Or Not To Hug ~ That Is The New Question

Assistant professor of psychology Peggy Drexler recently re-stated Shakespeare’s classic question. It’s come an increasingly pertinent one considering how many people will be trying to hug you and me over the next week at bars, parties and work. What are we to do…?

In Japan, a bow is sufficient; in Latin countries, big bear bugs and cheek kisses are the norm; in the US we’re somewhere in between. During most of out history, hugging was limited to women who knew one another. Lately, Hollywood would have us believe that men like Buffalo Bill and Jesse James were huggers all along. The facts, however, beg to differ. Most frontier gunslingers and cowpokes wouldn’t be found dead hugging another gunslinger and cowpoke. Literally. So whence all this feely-touchy-huggy stuff?

Hollywood script writers may be the culprits, having already given us such imagined practices like the hero always finding a parking space right where he or she wants one…doors conveniently left unlocked …and violins in the mists of every kiss. With the sad exception of teachers who are no longer permitted to hug a child, the screen has become crammed with huggers of every gender, size, and persuasion. As a consequence, most of us now hug too.

I’m here to say I’ve had and offered my share of hugs over the years. I rather like it. However, for some of my more testosterone-gifted peers, the public hug creates some complications. Like when, where, and who? Plus such corresponding questions like how tight to hug, how long to hug, and at what precise point to stop hugging?

Oh, and you thought hugging was not a big issue. Please, don’t get me started. This new American hugging habit has complicated my relations with more than one husband. But only one wife. Mine!!

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