do you want to hug it out?

August 5, 2008

umm no, thanks.

during this final summer of shirking major responsibility, i’ve been witness to young, nubile, and unaware…let’s call them children…graduate from their hallowed high school halls. they’re excited. college is approaching, in a mere two weeks for some. so they get to walk across a stage, shake hands, and get a piece of paper that they will misplace (cough cough). they also get to receive money for smoking in the bathroom and cutting class. that part comes at the graduation party!

i attended three graduation parties this summer, which says a lot since i did not actually know two of the honorees prior to the celebration. who would pass up free booze? the last one was an old neighbor (which sounds like she’s 90 and dead. neither are true).

attending these gatherings brings up this question that often plagues me, as i am princess awkward: who deserves a hug and who gets treated to the awkward smile/make my hands look busy?

All of said parties were also attended by people i know, either from infancy or age 19. I suppose this should be solved on a case by case basis.

Party #1: Dad’s frat brother’s son

there are too many apostrophes in that title, making it seem obvious: no one gets a hug. however, i have known the adult crowd since i was born and while i hadn’t seen most of them since age 8 or 9, that passing time in itself sometimes warrants a hug. I was kind of thrown into this party, but i went on the premise of free booze and probably dinner. that technically makes me a cheap date, so dad, you’re welcome. Anyway, i went into the backyard of this unknown house with high hopes of not having to talk to people about my own impending doom (college graduation) and i could just skate by, drinking my G&T and occasionally grabbing a cookie from the dessert tray. What i didn’t expect was for half of the guests to be well on their way to fall down drunk by the time we arrived. Let’s just say I hugged um, everyone that knew who i was, and them some. you know, friends of friends.

Verdict: hugs. after re-introduction (oh my god is that really Amanda! i haven’t seen her since she was up to my knees!)

i am not a good hugger. that probably means i have a weak handshake too, which i should get corrected. but i just don’t like squeezing people. it’s weird, and most of the time, especially outdoors, people are sweaty. i never know how long to hold the hug for, if we’re going to bro-hug, if i’m going to be lifted from the ground without warning, or hell, what if the person doesn’t want to hug either, then it’s two limp fish touching arms in a strange embrace.

Party #2: Neighbor’s daughter (never met her beforehand)

This party was on the same day as the one above, meaning i already had enough gin in my system to keep the party going asleep on my couch. i did not need another party, and frankly didn’t really want one. I would be surrounded by neighbors that i enjoy, but by 18 year olds that i did not know and that would glare at me in confusion: who the hell is that 15 year old and why is she sitting there in silence?

Verdict: hugs. too drunk to care anymore hugs.

In this case, alcohol consumption plays a key role: the more you’ve had, the friendlier you get. I have no problem hugging the neighbors i know, they’re cuddly and fuzzy. It’s the ones i’ve met once or twice and can barely remember their names that do not deserve physical contact in my book. However, i was merely a pawn on the chess board in this case, i just had to suck it up and hug everyone that again, knew who i was. thank god i wasn’t completely sober or i would have been visibly weirded out and may have started a tirade about hugging then and there.

Party #3: Dear, dear neighbor’s daughter

if these party titles tell me anything it’s that i need friends my own age. This soiree was last weekend and I was pretty excited for it since I thought I would know most of the guests, leaving the awkward “sooo where do you go to school?” convos behind me. The problem with living an hour away is this: you leave so you can be on time, but the people that live across the street don’t feel the need to arrive until 4 hours after the party starts. This leaves those of us with long ways to go patiently waiting for neighbors so they can stop talking to relatives. in addition to relative banter, i also got the chance to see neighbors that i don’t keep up with on a semi-yearly basis. Now this was a crucial moment in the “do i hug these people?” decision. I hadn’t seen them since i moved in 3rd grade. we went to Phillies games together, but not much else. clearly we didn’t keep in touch post-move, so how important are they?

This is where you use parents as a weapon. I highly recommend bringing your creators to parties like this for this reason only: hiding spots. So you see people going in for the “how nice to see you!” and you step back and if possible, leave to grab a drink. if you’re stuck without an exit, just hide behind your mom or dad until the other person is done greeting them, and then simply follow suit. If your mom hugs them, it’s ok for you to do so too so you don’t seem ultra bitchy. Once the first round of hugging is over, you can creep out from behind your parents and exclaim “oh my goodness the ____! it’s been a long time!” then go in for the hug. makes you look like you thought of it yourself.

Verdict: hugs. with a side of hiding.

The only other potential problem you may run into at these graduation parties is wiping the look of confusion, shock, and/or horror off your face when someone goes in for a hug and you’re clearly not expecting it. This has happened to me more than it should have, but i’ve become the expert at this: just have a blank stare on your face at all times. Sure, you look mildly retarded, but it saves you from having to explain any confusion, and the people hugging you will be so scared that they won’t want to ask what happened since the last time they saw your once shining face.

It’s completely ok to hug those you know and love, and it’s even ok to hug those you really don’t remember, just ere on the side of caution when choosing who gets what. You’re not the executor to a will or anything, but how you greet these people will affect your next interaction. If you want it to be a positive one, suck it up and hug until you can’t hug anymore. That’s what i did this summer, as much as i dislike awkward touching, and i think things will turn out well because of it. Hell, most of the people you hug at these parties don’t really want to hug you either, they just feel its the only socially acceptable greeting these days. let’s bring back the curtsey and bow. honor your partner!


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