Hugs and That Sort of Stuff

I like hugs:many people do. Having said that the number of people I hug as a matter of course is somewhere between five and ten . These are people I love without question,and there is reason to believe they feel the same way about me. When I see them warmth and sunshine fill my heart and hay-presto hugs a gogo before you can say “Bacon Sandwich”. All very nice

With others I tend instinctively to follow the path of politeness without any unnecessary displays of intimacy: that had always been my approach. In the last few years I have met women who I don’t know who lean forward and give me a sort of kiss on or somewhere near the cheek. It’s not my thing but there is no need to get stuffy about it. Sometimes I find myself smiling and sort of nodding my head in a bewildered acknowledgement of the new custom when their head swoops forward and attacks my other cheek with the same brisk approach. On one occasion the head swooped forward again to attack the original cheek. “When is this going to stop” I thought to myself

This always throws me a bit and when I  look into their eyes they are somewhere between blank and non-committal. Their gaze  makes it clear that it is custom and implies no unnecessary levels of intimacy. Thats fine with me, but in the circumstances a nice handshake would have sufficed. I dislike pretending to be more fond of or intimate with people than I really am. It does not mean I am not affectionate or that I don’t wish them well, or even like them. It just means I don’t know them and I tend to hug people naturally when I both know them and like them. . It’s when I meet people for the first time and hardly know their surname and they swoop on me that |I feel baffled.

Recently my partner bought a lady home who works for the same firm as she does,but in their Dubai office. I met her at the front door and she extended her hand. I shook it with pleasure and thought to myself.” Thank goodness.She’s got her head screwed on correctly”.

Anyway. Chat chat chat:munch munch and the evening moves on with wide-ranging talks about shopping and holidays in Dubai and what you can do there. I mainly leave the ladies to it and make myself useful by preparing snacks and brewing tea. Always happy to do that. In between the normal chatter she makes the odd remark which indicates, to me at least,that she has good values and is socially aware. Nice to meet someone like her.

Finally the evening draws to a close and she gets ready to leave. I escort her to  her car because it is a bit away from our front door and the street is not too well-lit. On reaching her car she turns and extends her hand again. I am so pleased by her decorum and generally nice manners that I could almost give her a hug,but then where would I be.

She is coming again this evening but with her sister and I look forward to some more wide ranging shopping chatter and a brace of well delivered handshakes.What could be better.


About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, community, creative writing, Life, life2, Relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Hugs and That Sort of Stuff

  1. Abby says:

    Another reason that we would be fast friends, as I’m not a prude or averse to polite interaction, but my hugging is usually limited to people who I have met on a previous occasion and are my mom. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but I’m not a voluntary hugger unless the situation requires such an action. My mom is an overbearing hugger and “loves” everyone, so I think I grew up feeling the need to compensate for that and earned the “Ice Queen” moniker early on.

    Like you said, I will do it and tolerate it, but it’s not something I openly initiate. With that said, virtual hugs to you.


  2. barbara says:

    This gave me a chuckle. You are British through and through! Trust me, when we meet I’m giving you a hug.


  3. As a sociologist, I find the phenomenon of “social distance” and how it varied by culture and people quite interesting. That’s really what you’re talking about here (in much more elegant and witty terms than my academic blathering).

    I, too, gauge who I’m feeling close enough to to hug or to offer my hand in a gesture of polite friendliness. But some people don’t have that internal sensor and just are repeat-hug-offenders! The worst is when no amount of tapping their backs gets them to let go. 😉


  4. Caroline says:

    The ‘air-cheek’ kissing business can get totally ‘out of hand’ in France as the number of kisses varies region to region from 2 to 5…… A minefield!!

    I seem to remember my cake and coffee friend I met recently gave me a hug on meeting which I rather liked!


    • This is how things can go so wrong in Blogland. I amtalking about hugs from virtual strangers. If you Barbara,Shonnie, Pat, Kirrie etc where to meet me it would be hugs a go go and I would be thrilled to see you. I just don’t like pretendingto be thrilled for social forms sake.


      • backonmyown says:

        Awww, Ducks. I can’t speak for the others but I’m teasing you because I think I can. It’s just that I’m unabashedly fond of you based on your Blogland persona and I just know I would like you in person.

        I know what you mean, though, about being misunderstood in cyberworld. I remember when I first started emailing and IM-ing and my daughter said, Gee, Mom, I can’t tell if you’re teasing or serious. It’s a challenge to present ourselves as we intend to online. I mentioned to another blogger recently that I still have trouble making my humor understandable. In person, my tongue is often in my cheek. People recognize it by my tone of voice and the sparkle in my eye. We don’t have those tools, those advantages in blogland. I sometimes I put in a smiley face but it doesn’t even come close to what I’m trying to accomplish. I also think the rapidity with which we read and respond to each other is a factor. Maybe someone should blog about this. They probably already have.

        Hope you’re having a good day on that side of the pond. Temperature was 32 degrees F over here this morning when I got up and won’t go above 50. A taste of winter. Good walking weather. Ciao. Take care.


      • Shonnie says:

        No explanation needed for me … was just givin’ ya a hard time like Mrs. Back there. You have a super kind soul — very obvious. You also have a knack for taking the mundane things of life and making them incredibly interesting.

        for the record — I don’t like pretend anything!! The South is chocked full of that, and I find it tiresome and terribly confusing. 🙂


    • I just read this again and noticed you saif “5”. I can hardly believe that. I mean I do believe it because you said it, but I can’t think what the rational explanation for that would be.


  5. Kirri White says:

    Awww, I like to hug and kiss and double kiss because even though Im Aussie, I have European family who insist on the double kissing. I’m not over the top and if I can sense someone is a bit tetchy about being hugged then I won’t…but, please hug me!


  6. See.. you said the word bacon and I completely lost my train of thought. I couldn’t even focus on the rest of this post lol. But i enjoyed reading this


    • I know what you mean. I could write a whole post on Bacon Sandwiches. Mmmmmm, the lovely contrast of salty slightly crispy bacon with the soft bread. The warm bacon against the slightly cooler bread. The tang of my favourite sauce. Oh heavans. Now what have you made me do. What were we talking about. Ah yes . Hugs


  7. Judith says:

    We could be friends IRL. I do hug some people but don’t appreciate anybody crowding in on me, into my space. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. And does anyone ever say Hi to your partner through your blog. Well Hi Partner.


  8. nelle says:

    So, just to make sure I have this, Kate Middleton had best extend a hand when she calls? 😉

    Seriously, in this part of the world hugs tend to exchange if more than a casual acquaintance. If I’ve never met someone before in any way, shape, or form, it probably won’t be a hug.


    • In the case of Kate Middleton there would be no question of a hug as you probably realised. I love a hug with emotion behind it as much as the next man, but having the meaning of that nice custom diluted to a social cliche is not useful. Genuine warmth is lovely.The manner without the content is less appealing


  9. the ones who confuse me the most are random huggers ~ i prefer to hug girlfriends and having moved twice in the last few years i’ve had a new hugging issue to dance with… i like to hug hello and goodbye, it just feels good with people i care about and once i feel close to somebody new, i usually initiate a hug goodbye and bring up how weird it is to shift into a hugging relationship vs not, it’s so awkward but worth the wierdness, it usually shifts the relationship into a more intimate space which i thrive on. but… i’m dumbfounded with a group of women i feel close to ( bookclub ) the group is filled with random huggers and it is so strange that they are inconsistent with this practice with me and each other??

    countingducks ~ you pick such unique topics to write about and i love all that you share 🙂


  10. Shonnie says:

    We are a family of Autistic folks over here when it comes to hugs. I like them too, and have noticed on occassion that I had missed my quota of good hugs to feel healthy–because of said autistic tendancies. So I am with ya buddy about the Hugging … sometimes I am unsure if I should or shouldn’t … so with family I just go ahead and jump in … in the south it is common for folks to hug a lot. 🙂

    I will remember this when I jump the pond and knock on your door that I need to at least wait until after we have talke for 30 mins before I hug ya! hehehe 😉


  11. —I never turn down a hug….
    “` I think several Americans are like that. But I definitely would not welcome somebody kissing me! I do draw my line someplace. Xx


  12. says:

    It seem that this post really got people sharing. I LOVE that. Social customs and all. I think that’s just great. Hugs? Hands. I say a nice firm handshake and look in the eye will do. I get a LOT of hugs from my kids and husband. More than my fair share. For that I am TRULY grateful.


  13. *hugs* 😉

    Can’t remember when’s the last time I was hugged! Oh. poor me 😦


  14. enermazing says:

    You can’t have too many honest (((hugs))) 🙂


  15. eof737 says:

    And then you might surprise her with a hug, no? That would be wonderful. 🙂
    I’m working on catching up again after a hectic workshop week again. 🙂


  16. Beth says:

    Oh Ducky, how I laughed and nodded my head! I’m introverted which means I’m naturally very reserved. I don’t like hugging people I don’t know! And forget smooching my cheek. Excuse me?! Personal space! I’m perfectly content to shake hands with someone I’ve just met (I, too, have that slight moment of panic, eyes widened in fear, when someone starts the inevitable lean that sends the message of, “Incoming!” to my brain). But with the folks I know? Oh yes, hugs it is. I don’t have a problem with displays of affection… just fake ones with people I neither know nor like. Snuggling with the nieces and nephew, hugging family and friends, a kiss on the cheek here and there (a smooch on the lips here and there–shhh!), and “I love you” exchanged verbally… all good when it’s sincere!

    P.S. Shonnie and I exchanged hugs when we got to meet! And it wasn’t insincere or uncomfortable because we’ve become friends. So there’s proof that blogging can lead to the development of good friends!


  17. Texasjune says:

    Well, I suppose I’m a stand-by hugger! I wait until someone else determines their hug quota for the day! Being tall and a rather fluffy old woman, my girl friends tell me I’m comfortable to “hug on!” Maybe it’s like the relationship between a poodle and a tree, the tree is always there if needed! (Yep, I’m the tree!)


  18. I think you read my mind – a handshake is sweet relief!


  19. Debbie says:

    Oh my gosh – my internet picked tonight to work and look where I’ve landed!
    To hug or not to hug… Who knew that was the question? Great post as usual.
    I don’t believe I’ve ever been ‘air-kissed’. Possibly they don’t do that much in Iowa or Oregon – or at least not in my income bracket?
    I’m great on hugging when the heart precedes it for both parties.
    So, when you and I meet, I will let you see the warmth in my eyes and if there is equal warmth in yours, a hug will likely follow (even though our friendship is quite virtual). If however, I see reservation in your eyes, I’ll be more than happy with a hearty handshake. 😉


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