One thing that you should know about me is that I’m a hugger. I may have only met you once and had a fleeting conversation about Batwoman. You could be a friend of a friend tagging along on a night on the turps. You might even have been with me when some kind of First Aid disaster struck (more common than you may think – I’ll post about that sometime, too). Either way, if I know you even vaguely and I don’t think you’ll pepper spray me (or unless it would be weird for whatever reason – hey, some people aren’t huggers and I’m down with that) I’ll probably give you an enthusiastic squeeze next time we meet. In my book, hugs are the best way I know to demonstrate camaraderie, or celebration, or affection, or comfort. It’s the best way to say ‘I am here for you, and everything is going to be OK’ to someone in a crisis. It’s the easiest way to say ‘I love you, you’re safe’ to someone who needs to hear it. Or, hey, you might have just won the footy. Have at it!
To me, a bad hug is like a bad handshake. If you’re going to hug someone, HUG THEM LIKE YOU MEAN IT. None of that bullshit ‘I’m going to lean in while patting you on the shoulder’ huggery. You can only get away with that if you’re British. Likewise the ‘I’m barely going to come into contact with you’ hug. A way-too-gentle hug is like the wet-fish handshake. Sort of pointless and even slightly creepy. Just hug! It’s OK!
If you’re a good friend of mine, or one of my family members, you’ll usually get a Rah Hug. This is basically a garden-variety bear hug, usually accompanied with a ‘Raaaah’ from one or both of us. It’s a happy little rah. An affectionate noise meaning ‘You’re amazing! C’mere!’ It’s the sound you’d make if you were playing monster and chasing around a little brother or sister.
The Rah Hug has only ever led to (near) disaster once. After recently arriving at my friend’s house, I went in for the hug. Now, the recipient of said hug is a very good friend of mine and gives a Rah Hug as good as she gets. We, as usual, embraced enthusiastically, probably making ridiculous noises as we did so. There was a bit of that sway-thing you do whilst hugging, which then threw off my center of gravity. I stepped backward to prevent us from falling over, but my foot hit the corner of a couch. We kept hugging as we both very slowly fell over together, neither of us able to compensate for the pendulous weight of our affections. We very nearly knocked over a flatscreen TV on the way down and ended up striking a collapsible coffee table.
Nobody was hurt. Ahem. These days, I check for obstacles. But I still hug properly, damn it.