Saturday, August 30, 2008


One Sunday not too long ago my daughter and I decided to go over to the senior center for a pancake breakfast. It seemed like a good way to start the day.

We had a nice breakfast. The pancakes and coffee were hot and the orange juice cold. Best of all, the line was short and the price right. We were waited on hand and foot by a nice little lady (why do they all seem so much older than me?) who made sure we had refills. When it was time to go, as we passed her I thanked her and told her the food was very good. I started to walk on out the door when she grabbed my arm, whirled me around and said, “Let me give you a hug!”


But of course it happened before I could stop it, and I tried not to huff under my breath as I hustled out the door.

I do not like to be hugged by people I don’t know. I hug my kids and they hug me. I hug all my family members. I have no problem being hugged by someone in my genealogy group that I’ve helped. I hug my friends when I haven't seen them in a long time. But being hugged by a stranger just for the sake of hugging makes me think these huggers are very emotionally-needy people.

I am totally against indiscriminate hugging. I find it offensive and a real intrusion into my space, not to mention my body. I know there is a large group of people who think that hugging is a wonderful cure-all. There is usually a booth of them at every street fair, and with arms outstretched they fly into the crowd yelling, "You look like you could use a hug." I always avert my eyes as I walk past their location. I don’t want to give them the least bit of encouragement. But the catch is that if I signal in any way that I am not interested, they will hone in on me like a bee after nectar, thinking in their heart of hearts that their magic hug will make me feel so much better.


Passive-aggressive that I am, I would never say to them, “I prefer not being hugged.” Instead I try my hardest to avoid placing myself in their line of vision. Perhaps I should practice standing in front of the mirror and saying over and over, “Please, I don’t want to be hugged.” Maybe I could say it so many times that eventually it would feel natural coming out of my mouth. But I doubt it.

So I now forego street fairs AND senior breakfasts. Instead, if I want pancakes I go to IHOP, where my pancakes come with a smile instead of a hug.

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