Hugs, like huggers, come in different shapes and sizes.
The A-Frame Hug is for shy people. They stand well apart and lean forward so that they touch only at shoulder height before reaching gingerly around to put their hands lightly on the other’s scapulas—that’s what shy people call shoulder blades—before quickly stepping back. I’ve met a few A-Framers in my time and they’re no fun at all.
Then you have your full body hug which pays scant attention to decorum and enjoys sharing a little warmth with another person. Body huggers are usually outgoing, fun people.
But the best hug of all is the bare hug—sometimes spelt bear hug. While the other hugs are done with the clothes on, bare hugs dispense with such inconveniences. Bare huggers are my very favourite people.
Some years ago, when Daizy and I attended a weekend with a group who were about eighty per cent female, the organiser asked if I would look after the snack bar, which was located just inside the doorway. No problem! The result was that I got to know most of the people. On Sunday afternoon when the last workshop had finished, I stood behind my counter watching everyone leave. Realising that I was missing an opportunity I said to one woman, “Did you know that the last eight people to go through that door all gave me a hug?” She thought about it and said, “All right.” It was a great opportunity and I got fifteen hugs in a row before somebody called my bluff. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy hugging with a counter in between but it’s very chaste.
Then of course there’s the travelling hug. Some people call it dancing.
There were two French women at that function and, because they were flying to New Caledonia the next day, had asked to keep their room for an additional night. I was detailed to collect their money and found them, as well as several other people, on the dance floor. It was one of those odd situations where they were all just moving to the music rather than dancing as couples and, as I approached, one of them drew me into her arms and we spent ten magical minutes floating around the floor. And float I did! She was slender and lovely, and was so light on her feet that she made me feel like Fred Astaire. She knew what I wanted and, although I wasn’t about to break the spell, she finally asked, “How much is the room?” I said, “Well, it was $40 when we started dancing, but it’s getting less all the time.” Her eyes sparkled, and she said, “Ahh! You sound just like a Frenchman.”
There’s one thing to remember about hugging—one rule of etiquette that you must never break. No matter what the style, it’s considered very bad manners to be the first person to let go.