Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Hugs Allowed - the Holiday Exemptions

When I was a baby, I would cry to be put down. My parents still chuckle about this, but my Uncle Don recalls it the most vividly: "whyyy, whenever anybody tried to pick you up and hold you, your legs'd draw up to your chest like a cat's about to hit the water, and you'd squallll." What happened then? I always ask. "Well we set you back down in a hurry. And then you were allright."

So I don't think I developed an aversion to hugging, I assume I was born with it. It's not a phobia or anything -- it's not like spiders. It's just not my thing. I have a good firm handshake that'll see me through most any social situation (and a well-timed BJ will see you through most any other).

It became kind of a running joke throughout college, where my friends amused themselves with "immersion therapy." My college BFF Helen would not just hug me, she would pick me up and twirl me around too. It was a very Owen Meany kind of thing. I just learned to kind of go limp and submit (don't worry, I don't make a habit of it... see also: the well-timed BJ). The same practice pretty much followed me to every workplace post-college.

Then one time about 10 years ago or so an Intern put his hand on my arm to reinforce a point during a story meeting, and as a joke, I glanced down at his hand and said "don't touch me," and then kept on with the meeting. I really was kidding, and I told him that, but he was spooked. He told everyone after that that not only should they not ever touch me under any circumstances, they also should refrain from looking me in the eye.

This week (holiday spirit and all), everybody's been hugging more than usual, and I've been caught in the crossfire a few times. I suppose maybe the immersion therapy might eventually take.

It better. Because after a casual exchange about the topic on Facebook today, my friend JD wrote, "she's like a daggum basket full of puppies. I say pick her up and smooch her." (I'm bracing myself.)


  1. I'm totally going to hug you the next time I see you.

  2. it's true - and scientifically proven - hugs feel good!

    don't just hug one person today - hug 10 people and ask them to HUG IT FORWARD!

    if each of those 10 people hug 10 people tomorrow, and those 100 people each hug 10 more.... in ten days 10 BILLION people will have been hugged!