Apparently this past Monday, September 10th, was A Very Special Holiday known as Free Hug Day.
And if ever there was a time that I was grateful to be The Biggest Hermit On The Face Of The Earth, it was then. Because along with my myriad other fears (See: Snakes, Real and Imaginary, Calling People On The Phone, Going Anywhere Near The Bathroom During A Thunderstorm), I get really nervous whenever people try to hug me. And that’s kind of a problem, because I live in the South. And down here, people hug. A Lot.
I really can’t explain why, but I get really anxious whenever anyone invades my personal space, which has apparently expanded over time until it is now approximately the size of a seven figure, luxury home complete with its own gated community.
Back in my church-going days I used to get so anxious every Sunday. Because in addition to all of the religious issues, such as “Why Everything You Like About Life Is The Gateway To Hell”, I also had to endure The Greeting. In theory I can understand that it seems like a really good idea to make friends with all the people sitting next to you in your pew. But to my way of thinking there is really no need for even a handshake, much less an embrace, when clearly a brief meeting of the eyes and an acknowledging head shake will do. If you have never seen me before that day, and will probably never see me again, then why do you feel it necessary to clutch me to your breast as if I were the Prodigal Son finally returning home?
And while we’re on the subject of breasts, can we just talk for a minute about how awkward it is to be, say, a well-endowed, double D-sized babe, and have to endure a full, frontal encounter with some other woman’s “girls” in a moment that can only be described as, The Big Squish?
I imagine that if you are a guy reading this then you might be thinking, “Hey, having to get up close and personal with breasts? I really don’t see what the problem is.” But I think that if you had to regularly participate in some kind of obligatory social ritual which required you to press your family jewels up against some other guy’s cash and prizes, you would quickly be singing another tune.
So needless to say I did not participate in Free Hug Day, which for me would have translated into Free Have A Nervous Breakdown Every Single Time Anyone Even Looked At You Until You Ended Up As A Quivering, Whimpering Mass On The Floor Locked In The Fetal Position Day.
But if anyone ever designs a holiday along the lines of Free Quietly Sending Nice Thoughts To Other People While Safely Locked Away In Your Hermit Cave Day, I’m totally there.
I’m somewhere in the middle… i will hug people I know but I am very uncomfortable with hugging strangers. If you get a Big Squish from me, you’ve probably earned your stripes. Other wise, paws off, pls thx. 😉
Priscilla Palmer says
You have been tagged for The Personal Development List. I would love for you to participate.
Well, I’m not particularly a hugger, but I run with a group of folks who are. So I’m kinda used to it. Unless, of course, I am the one doing the hugging and the other person just stands there.
Speaking of things that creep my out… flies in the bedroom. I hate them buzzing me when I’m just barely falling asleep. Or yucky smells in the refrigerator, and no one will clean it out except me, and then the whole freaking house stinks. Yeah, it was the broccoli. Who knew?
Lynne Morrell says
I am not a big hugger either. I used to be a Catholic (whole other story) and they did the same thing in church. I was just a kid so, once we were in our spot, I would spend the time from the beginning of mass until “huggy feely time” checkin out who I would have to hug. I didn’t like that I was being forced to do it. Didn’t like that at all!
Once you are a friend though….watch out! I will totally give ya a hug and be all warm and fuzzy:)
Don’t you hate it when people think you NEED a hug? “Oh, you look like you need a hug…” Okay, if I LOOK like I need a hug, that means that if you come within 6 inches of my face, I could bite your ear off Tyson style. Back up.
Unwanted hugging is right up there with guys that talk in the stall next to you when you’re doing the doo.
But seriously, back to you…please go about the boob squashing between two well endowed women…
I found your website through Jeannette Maw (GoodVibe Coach) who found you through Priscilla Palmer. Jeannette’s got a great sense of humor, so I had to check out some of the links she had in her newsletter.
I find it absolutely refreshing that you are able to blog about people invading your personal space! Makes me feel normal about being a bit uncomfortable with the same thing! Good grief, if I had a dollar for every time someone tried to insist that something was wrong with me for not wanting to hug and touch everybody, I’d be RICH!!!
I once nannied (is that a word?) for some very outgoing friends who finally decided to have a child while in their late 30’s. This little girl was perfectly content to NOT kiss everyone and loved eating vegetables. Her parents objected and tried to get her to kiss everyone and to eat other stuff. I kept telling them to leave her alone. They should be happy that she doesn’t kiss everyone and that she loves vegetables!
Anyhoo…just wanted to say that I was very happy to read your post!
Your Sister in Personal Space and Art,
Liara Covert says
This post caused me to think back to when I was a live in nanny (au pair) for a French Canadian family during the last two years of the my undergrad. To that point, I had a private view of personal space. Then, I was suddenly introduced to a concept whereby strangers come up, hug you and kiss you on both cheeks as a way to express hello. This evolved to be an up-close and personal thing involving men and women. Initially, to be quite honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I was shocked, but outwardly polite. That experience caused me to rethink my personal space thing completely. I realized it could symbolize respect. I relaxed.
I am a hugger (which is NOT done here in the NW) but I can’t stand the greeting at church. And at my church it’s just a handshake! I think it is closely linked to my aversion to Small Talk. I never see these people again so it’s meaningless. Sigh.
Also, I hear you on the big squish.
I’ve never really liked touching people, but being a Christian most of my life, And a pretty laid back guy, I’ve dealt with it.
One problem, this aversion has gotten much stronger as I hit my mid 40s. AND I go to a holy roller church where hugs are the new handshake.
I especially hate that man, handshake becomes a handshake/hug thing.
One of the great things about being a big man is that for so long, everybody, even women would just shake my hand.
Where did that go so horribly off-track?
That’s where xanax comes in.