It seems to me there are two types of people in this world: Huggers and Non-Huggers.
Some might refer to them as Introverts and Extroverts, but in the end it mostly boils down to the hugging.
You know those quiet, peripheral types? The ones who can read a room before they say one single regrettable thing? Those rare, mystical birds who never embarrass themselves in social settings?
Yah, I’m not one of those people.
I talk a lot, I think a lot, I feel a lot, and not surprisingly… I hug a lot.
Like, all the time.
Maybe too much.
Last weekend I flew across the country to attend my very first writers workshop. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I met hundreds of brand new people, I learned a ton of valuable information, and I extroverted all over the place. I was in my glory.
I hugged hello, I hugged goodbye, and I hugged “nice to meet you”. It wasn’t until one particular moment on Thursday evening that I noticed someone standing to my right, a woman who I had never met but “knew” from the Internet (as one does). I turned and officially introduced myself to her AS I was already going in for a hug, when I felt more than saw her frozen smile as she valiantly attempted to not recoil from my embrace.
She was shorter than me so my armpits tragically grazed her shoulders as I scooped her in to myself. She stiffened just enough to signal her discomfort and it wasn’t until that exact moment that I remembered I’d heard somewhere that she didn’t really like to be touched. Not like it was a phobia or anything, she just wasn’t the handsy type.
Real cool, Amber’s Memory! Thanks for showing up late, but “This information would’ve been useful to me YESTERDAY!” (Name that movie).
In these types of moments one really only has two choices: acknowledge the weird air and let it get in your head, or just barrel ahead like the ‘bull in a china shop’ that you are.
I’ll give you one guess which route I chose.
I immediately released her, pretended not to be uncomfortable, and asked her a series of questions that didn’t necessarily relate to each other but sufficiently distracted us both until we could retreat to our separate corners.
Guys, sometimes extroverting is hard! What’s normal? What’s not? Don’t ask me! I obviously don’t know!
I hug friends, I hug acquaintances, and I even hug perfect strangers.
No one is safe.
Not even the workers at Trader Joe’s.
One would think that I’d be a little more gun-shy with my hugging after what can only be referred to as the “incident” that took place just two months ago in September. It was the first week of the kids being back in school, so for the first time in three months I found myself cheerily running errands alone.
Costco, Trader Joes, Target- I was amazed at how much I could fit in one trip without anyone asking me to take them to every public restroom within a 5 mile radius or stopping me every seventeen seconds to see if we were going to buy that package of twisty straws or not.
Maybe it was the high of freedom that made me a little extra gregarious that day, or maybe it would’ve happened anyway; I guess we’ll never know. But one thing is for sure: I’ve never been so mortified over a hug.
Trader Joe’s was my last stop of the day and as the woman behind the register began to scan my groceries, we struck up a friendly conversation. I cannot tell you what we talked about but I do know that it was reciprocal. She asked questions, she smiled, and at one point we both laughed simultaneously over all the different types of humus in my cart.
(Exactly how much humus is too much humus to eat in one sitting, anyway? I’m asking for a friend.)
Nevermind. It doesn’t matter.
THE POINT IS WE BONDED, OKAY?
As we wrapped up our chat she handed me my receipt, looked me square in the eyes, and said in no uncertain terms, “Well let me at least give you a hug before you leave!”
To which I waited all of 1.5 seconds before responding, “Okay!”, and walking around the baggage area with my arms outstretched to signal to her that I was all in for this hug. Could it be? Had I finally found my one socially awkward match in the universe?
It wasn’t until I reached her side of the register that I stopped short because she turned her back on me to hug another Trader Joe’s employee. It was his last day of work there. Her words flooded my brain one more time. “Well let me at least give you a hug before you leave!” Bless it all. She had been talking to him while looking at me.
There was no backpedaling here. There was nothing in the world I could say to make the fact that I was standing a little too close on the wrong side of the register with my arms in the air giving the universal signal for “let’s hug”, any less awkward.
Or if there was, it was beyond me.
So I did what any normal person would do. I halfheartedly pretended to be stretching my arms, did the fastest 180 of my life, and speed-walked out of there, laughing audibly all the way because REALLY? Is this my actual life?
And that is the story of how I very nearly wound up in a three-way embrace with two perfect strangers.
I used to try to change, to be different, or to attain some level of chill, but in the end I’ve decided to just embrace who I am (hug pun intended). (Btw, why is it that when people say, “no pun intended” there most certainly is a pun intended?)
What can I say.
Don’t fight the funk, right?
Just hug it out, boo.