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I am a hugger.

Not a mugger, not a lugger, not a slugger…but a hugger.

I generally keep my emotional and/or physical distance from strangers, but when I really like somebody, and when it’s safe to do so, I tend to greet them with a hug—or at least a handshake.

Over the decades, I’ve evolved. One of the few advantages of aging is that I now see patterns in things, cause-and-effect phenomena in things…so that my behavior has subtly shifted.

Some things I’ve learned about hugging:

1. Some people respond readily to a quick hug and seem flushed with pleasure at this nice surprise.

2. Some people respond but quickly back away, as if they don’t know what to do after a hug.

3. Some people stiffen and don’t respond to the hug. These are folks I won’t hug again, unless they initiate.

4. Some people back away and will do anything to avoid a hug in the first place.

5. Some people hug a little too long and make me want to back away.

6. Some people, at first reluctant at each hug, now approach me as if they will actually miss the hug if I don’t provide it.

7. Some guys are huggable, but others try to avoid it because, well, they don’t think it’s guyish. These are often older or elderly guys, whose generation doesn’t cater to this kind of behavior.

8. Some people exude a kind of sensuousness when I hug them, so I tend not to try to hug them again, lest something be misinterpreted. This used to occur a lot more when I was young…with sometimes pleasant results. No more—I’ve been happily monogamous for more than four decades.

Even after studying hugging for sixty years, I still don’t know why most huggers pat each other on the back. Maybe it’s a kind of sign language that says, “Just hugging! Nothing more is meant!”

Anyhow, there’s lots of horror and sorrow and grief in the world that’s beyond my control. Maybe hugging is something I can do that reminds me that people can be pleasant to one another, even when they can’t think of anything comforting to say aloud

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

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