I have a really vivid memory of being in the dollar store at a local mall when I was about 5. My mom was looking at something on a spinning rack and I was looking at all the cheap plastic toys that I was sure I needed. I turned around and saw my mom, still standing in the same spot, and walked over to her.
I had a plan.
A masterful plan in which I would hug her. And then she would buy me the small package of fake dollar bills and plastic coins.
So I wrapped my arms around her, told her I loved her, and let the glory of my plan unfold.
Only it wasn’t my mom.
It was a stranger.
And I cannot explain what happened in my five-year-old brain…but, before I knew what was happening, I was in full melt down mode. Crying.
I had just hugged a stranger. Have you ever accidentally hugged a stranger? I don’t mean – gave a polite hug goodbye to someone you were just introduced to. I mean – compassionately hugged – with intent to express love – a stranger.
My mom wasn’t far away, just standing near by at another spinning rack. I think looking at nail polish. She saw me, and came and comforted me. The woman who I hugged didn’t hit me or yell at me. But I immediately hated her. She had impersonated my mother. How dare her.
And it was that totally rational fear that shaped me into the woman I am today.
I don’t hug.
You can ask anyone who knows me well – and they will tell you that I am not a hugger. I will hug you. If forced. But I absolutely will not regularly instigate a hug. With my kids, yes. With my husband, sometimes.
But hugging is unnatural.
Putting all of your front side against someone else’s front side with only centimeters of thread separating you. It’s disgusting. And EVERYONE does it.
Does no one else see the problem with this custom?
How do I know whom else you’ve hugged? You mean to tell me you want to rub your t shirt all over my sweater even though you just hugged that guy who never washes his hands and whose booger mysteriously disappeared from his nostril where it had been dangling so obviously for the last few minutes? I don’t think so.
And now I know everything about you. I know if you wear a padded bra, what kind of soap you use, and if you like fabric softener.
That’s too much to know.
And, quite frankly, I’d prefer you just tell me those things.
I have grown slightly in this area over the years. I will give a polite side hug to friends. But they always seem to comment on how strange it is. And, since she has a blatant disregard for my emotional well being in this department anyway, I now hug my best friend (you know who you are, and that I love you).
My husband and I hug every time he comes home from work. And a day doesn’t go by that I don’t squeeze my kids until they are choking ever so slightly.
I mean – that’s what love is all about, right?