To Hug or Not to Hug!

You know what I think? I think we’ve to do something about this hugging thing. There is a lot of it. Maybe even too much of it around these days! Of course it is one of the nicer gestures one could make. But sometimes you just feel things simply go over the cliff. You’re more offended than delighted at being hugged.

You know, those hugs which make you feel you’re in contact with a lifeless, very dry piece of something! Especially when you come across strangers you never knew even existed and you two hug, take it from me and that’s memory you wouldn’t want to keep. Neither of you had done anything wrong; It’s only that but hugging a complete stranger about you have no reason have any feelings for could feel like hugging some electric pole. Now could anything be more uneventful!

Even with those you know things aren’t always rosy, rosy! Some have no difference with the complete strangers. Their hugs are so lifeless you know they’re sort of enforced by unwritten social norms. Others hug you so tight you wonder if there was any message behind all the drama, because with many of us hugging is nothing but an unscripted part of the whole drama.

Ok you hug with those you now. I mean a complete stranger you never knew even excited giving you a bear hug is too much to digest. You can’t the minutest spec of honesty in such displays. Still these days hugging is so common you wonder if there was some heavenly directive making the rounds.

It’s not that I’ve anything against hugging. How could I! Of course, it depends who’s actually doing the hugging. We’re on the same wave lengths about that, so I hope; at least most of us. After all in almost everything there are the exceptions to the rule!

Talking of hugging here is a nice little joke; the guy was studying management. One day he approaches a girl he doesn’t know and gives her a big hug. Surprised as she was, the girl demands, “What was that all about?” The management student smiles and says, “That was direct marketing.” So the girl gives him on hell of a jaw-splitting slap. Caught off guard he shouts, “What was that about?!” And the smart girl answers, “That was customer feedback.” Well hugging doesn’t always pay does it? Especially, if you’re a fresh management student! Unless one thinks the slap is the price to be paid.

I think maybe we should go back to that simple everyday headshake for greetings. Of course, there too could be some discomfort. You know nature or real physical work has made the palms of some people really wide and thick and that is not always good to third parties. The palms of the guys like me are completely lost in the grips of the fleshy wide palms that you might need the help of technology.

By the way speaking of technology some of us are somewhat befuddled about these strange flying objects spotted in over the North American skies. Of course after the balloon standoff which went on for days they seem to be taking no chances this time around and the missiles are busy shooting them down. It must be real serious when they tell you no one really knows the origins of these objects, at least not yet, though the usual war of words between the bigger powers continue.

The flying objects coming after the balloon story which remained ‘breaking news’ for days on many Western channels they surely must have given the Hollywood guys some clue or two for a future blockbusters. You can’t help asking what really is going on over there! Some top officials haven’t completely ruled out the possibility of alien intervention though they stayed clear off using so many words. For a long time these stories of aliens which possess technology being somewhere out there having been making the rounds we could be pardoned for suspecting maybe in these so called end times they might have come to settle some unsettled issues.

Anyways coming back to issues closer to home, in this part of the world greetings especially in places farther than cities carry that human element and when people greet others they really meant it. That’s the kind of society we really crave for in these times of selfishness and greed.

In the countryside it has always been the case for people to greet complete strangers they come across the road by bowing or tipping their hands and gestures like that. They are not obliged to say anything because the person is a complete stranger and there are no strings attached! But then the social norms are so much so that the urge to wish their fellow human being all the nicer things in life makes them take it as their duty to greet others whoever they might be.

You must have heard stories that in the old days in the countryside you might have lost your way or evening may have suddenly fallen on you in places you have never been to and where you have no one to throw you any life jacket. You’d be left in the darkness and who knows what would happen? Bu then all you have to do was knock on some door and tell the owners of the house that you were travelling to some place but evening caught up with you and you have no place to spend the night at.

Well, believe it or not you’re treated not even like a common drifter but like a VIP guest where your dusty feet are washed, you are served the best meal the hosts could offer and they even leave their warm bed for you and sleep in the floor. Now wouldn’t anyone want to see more of such humane acts! By the way such stories are real stuff of ages torn out of a would-be novel which was never completed.

Of course in these days when Lucifer and co. are all over the place and it’s hard to tell who is who and you can’t just open your doors for everyone who knocks and offer them the best treatment you can offer. Not plausible at all! The sad fact a lot of things we can and can’t control chipping away at our sense of humanity.

And it’s amidst all this the hug seems to have replaced all other forms of greetings. I mean look at it like this; a stranger is a stranger is a stranger! So I think the handshake should replace the hug that has become too theatrical where most of the time you achieve nothing other than crumbling the front of your well-pressed shirt. And you’ve spent three quarters of an hour last night making it look smart! Indeed nothing could be more frustrating than dressing a perfectly ironed shirt only to see it spoiled by an uncalled for hug to straighten out every fold.

And this thumbs-up gesture used as some sort of greeting. Yes thumbs-up has its own uses; but as for me greetings shouldn’t be a part of them. Thumbs up is most of the time a replacement for OK, minus all the passion of the verbal equivalent. Say your poor writer is making his way in one part of the world and this fellow he knows shows him the thumbs-up from across the road. What the hell is he trying to tell me! The conventional wisdom would have been a simple wave on the hand where the simplest form of greeting is relayed and maybe to add color to it all, the “Call me!” gesture.

Of course, all handshakes aren’t born equal; I can tell you the handshake they call “dead fish handshake,” which is the worst of them all. I mean the person might be offering his hand but isn’t actually making his tigers do what they should have done. They are as straight and pointed as a row of some sticks. How the hell can you shake anyone with all the five fingers in 1800 straight line!

Then there is the bone-crusher handshake. It feels as if the other person was trying to extract water or some other form of liquid from them. A thousand times offensive and, of course, painful! You want to smile during handshake not whimper! In fact all greetings hugs, handshakes or otherwise should be all about smiles! To hug or not to hug, the choice is on home turf.

I rest my case.

To Hug or Not to Hug!

The Ethiopian  Herald February 19/2023

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