To Hug or Not to Hug

HugAs a burgeoning actor, I took any part I could get. That’s why I once accepted the role of a character whose only action in the entire play was to hug a female character. No lines, no emotions, just a hug. Unfortunately, before long it became apparent that I wasn’t fit for this role. I never imagined that this would happen to me, but I lost a part in a play because of the awkward style of my hug. Since then I have practiced like my life depended on it, however much to my chagrin my hug has remained awkward (as noted repeatedly by Anna Farnsworth). This had been a severe topic of concern, but after stumbling upon a particular New York Times article, I know that I am not alone.

After reading this groundbreaking article, I learned that there is an official name for my embarrassing embrace- “the bear claw.” As Sarah Kershaw writes, the bear claw occurs when “a boy embraces a girl awkwardly with his elbows poking out.” Bingo. That’s my love life in a nutshell.

Still, I am not sure what to do with this new diagnosis. I was thinking of reverting to the hi-five, but after reading what eight-grader Katie Dea had to say about it, I’m not so sure. “The high-five is, like, boring.” However the bro five is certainly still an option.

Should I give up hugging forever? According to Gabrielle Brown, a freshman at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, I probably shouldn’t. Brown said, “If somebody were to not hug someone, to never hug anybody, people might be just a little wary of them and think they are weird or peculiar.” Weird or peculiar? Definitely not my style.

Maybe I should just wait until Noreen Hajinlian becomes president of Northwestern. Hajinlian, the principal of a New Jersey junior high, banned hugging in school. “It was needless hugging — they are in the hallways before they go to class,” she said. “It wasn’t a greeting. It was happening all day.” A ban on hugging at Northwestern might be the best thing to happen to me since I discovered The Office.

After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that I absolutely cannot renounce hugging forever. It’s just nonsensical. While I may be wrong about this, I would imagine that not giving someone a hug when they are clearly expecting one might be worse than giving them an awkward hug. I learned that the hard way. Also, if I was to give up hugging, I am afraid that I might turn into Beth Harpaz. Harpaz, who is a parenting columnist- a parenting columnist!- wrote this about hugs. “Witnessing this interaction always makes me feel like I am a tourist in a country where I do not know the customs and cannot speak the language.” Gotta love parents.

While my hugging abilities have progressed, if I was to drive the Back to the Future car back to my high school days, I’m not sure whether I would have gotten that part in the play. But on second thought, if I had to go back to high school again I probably wouldn’t go back to Glenbrook South. Instead I would go to a different high school, one more suitable for me… Hug High.


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June 2009
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