I had lunch with a couple of girlfriends yesterday, and one of them mentioned that her sister-in-law was visiting. Women love, love, LOVE, to dissect the differences between their in-laws' and their blood relatives' modus operandi, and my friend was no exception. Bursting with confidence, she said of her husband and his sister, "They didn't hug each other when they said goodnight. Isn't that weird? In my family, we always hugged each other good night."
I expected the other ladies at the table testify in unison with me, "Uh, no. It's weird to hug people good night EVERY night. Especially adults."
Yeah, that's what I expected. Turns out I'm in the minority here. Ooh, the supercilious stares I got as I shared that I am, in fact, fatigued with the amount of hugging I am expected to do. Listen, I hug my children all the time. And my husband and I lean on each other after all the evening chores have been completed. Sometimes it's the only way we can stay standing after a long workday.
I hug family and friends that I haven't seen for a long time. But I see my immediate family all the freakin' time. Do I have to hug them on each occasion? There's like, twenty-three of us. I'd spend the whole visit embracing people. And my husband's college roomates...they are nice guys, and their wives are lovely women, but do I have to hug all of them hello and goodbye when we go to see a movie and spend all of two minutes chatting? I don't cringe when they're about to lay one on me or anything. I reciprocate. But I don't initiate.
Where do you draw the hug line? How do you discern when and where and whom to hug? Is it everyone? Or just everyone to whom you'd, say, send a Christmas card? Hugs are tender, reserved for those whom you'd like to comfort or boost for a moment. Should you lay one on your college roomate's new brother-in-law in her receiving line? I mean, are handshakes so crazy formal that they've become obsolete?
While lingering on the hug topic, one of my other girlfriends shared that her stepmother once said something like, "We don't hug each other often in my family, but that doesn't mean that we love each other any less." And, God love my friend, there was some snide riding on her voice when she said this. Meanwhile, I'm mentally high-fiving my friend's stepmother, thinking, "Yeah! Exactly! I love my siblings to pieces, but yeesh, there's a lot of us. I don't need to press the flesh to show them that I love them."
Ultimately, I sounded like a total cold fish when I declared that I am not a hug whore. Don't get me wrong. Hugs are nice. They really are. But people who dole them out like smiles just don't get non-huggy types like me. I've even heard an accusation or two about being an unfeeling robot. So after my initial, "Hey, I don't hug a lot," I kept a lid on it.
Man, it was like that time at the office when I hinted that we celebrated too many things in the office with cake. THAT did not go over well either.