Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sidehugs and Handshakes....

I'm a hugger - always have been. I appreciate a good hug and am always happy to give one. I grew up in a huggy house - a very long line of huggers. My dad's perhaps the biggest hugger of all. Twas always common for me to greet my friends - both male and female - with a hug. Nothing awkward, nothing sensual, just a good solid "you're my friend and I'm happy to see you..." hug. But I fear the hug's losing credence these days. Not certain if it's just not politically correct, perhaps a bit gay if the same sex, maybe sexual harassment if the opposite... not sure. But I like the hug. There are still a few people in my circle that I can count on for a good hug and I always look forward to seeing them coming my way. My wife of course is one. My son - depends. He's mostly a high five guy. Nothing wrong with the high five - but it's no hug. I think he'll come around. Curtis and Kristi... huggers. Brenda.... a great hug. Wes.... definitely a hug - and usually accompanied with the line from Tommy Boy... "brothers don't shake hands.... brothers gotta hug!" Mostly it's important to know who is and who isn't. There's not much more awkward than going in for the hug with a non-hugger. You can try to roll out for the side hug - but it's typically even more awkward by that point. And I kinda don't get the side hug - except where height or size issues prevail. But overall just seems a little impersonal and somewhat demeaning to me. It kinda says "yeah - I acknowledge your acquaintance and should probably show some form of recognition as to your presence - but I'd rather not." I almost feel that the high five beats the side hug - it's at least got enthusiasm and good contact. However - being in ministry and all - I practice the side hug often. But I like that the old folks go right in for the full frontal. They're not the least bit concerned with any new fangled political correctness - they're getting the real deal and leaving a trail of cheap perfume behind. I like that!

Then the handshake... who knows anymore. As a rule of thumb I like the traditional hand in hand handshake. It should be firm as to imply sincerity, but not so hard as to appear inconsiderate. And by all means it should require full engagement. Neither party should stop short of the skin between the thumb and index finger coming in full contact. One party squeezing the others fingers doesn't constitute a handshake. That piece of skin is there primarily for the purpose of shaking hands and should be fully utilized. The best method for insuring this is to move your hand toward the other party at a slow to medium speed - then accelerate to a fast speed as you slip your hand all the way into the clasp of theirs. Especially if you know the other party has a tendency to grab the fingers. (I learned this at church as a youth. Ray Walters, God bless him, was a finger shaker.) Just 3 or 4 moderate shakes is good. Not too vigorous. The second hand is not needed to sandwich the original two - one is sufficient. Then release in an appropriate time frame.

But anymore it's so hard to know what to anticipate. Just the old fashioned handshake now has to be followed by a series of ad ons that are just too hard to keep up with. I remember in Jr. High it was the traditional shake, followed by the thumb wrap, followed by the finger clasp. Now I'm not so sure where we're headed once we begin a shake but I'm pretty certain it'll end with a fist bump. All the in between stuff will usually just kinda die out in a sea of uncertainty - then end with the bump. Honestly, I think I prefer the side hug. Imagine if we actually greeted each other with a "holy kiss"... how politically incorrect is that?


Andi and Michael said...

Yeah, I'm out on the Holy Kiss business, too. I much prefer a full hug from those in my circle and a firm handshake. There is nothing worse than "since she is a girl, she will get the finger shake." Yuk! Give me a strong, full hand coverage handshake anytime.

Michelle Ferguson said...

I now live in a culture where people of different genders don't even touch (especially tricky for a newly married couple). You gave me some excellent tips for when I am home for Christmas and have to re-acclimate to a society of huggers and/or hand shakers. Thank you.

Also, I am newly married and living in Cambodia now! How life can take us where we never expected :) Enjoying yours and Celeste's blogs!

Kristi said...

I have no idea how I missed this blog. One of my friends read it and told me I got a shout out, so of course, being my usual humble self, I had to go see what you were saying about me.

I remember the first time I met you in New Mexico. I loved you instantly, cause not only are you a hugger, but you touch while you talk. The hand on the knee (in a non-pervert way of course) is one of my favorite JD moves.

I will be honest. I love to hug. And I will not let this art form of love die away. I even force it on people. Although, like you can backfire. I got in such an awkward "hug situation" the other day that the guy ended up grabbing my boob. Luckily, he's on OBGYN so it was harmless.

I hate being in the church biz, and quite frankly appreciate my non-pc friends who go in for the full on hug with no regard to what the "rules" are. I just think that is the sign of true friendship. Someone that you can hug without worrying about any awkwardness.

I'm glad you are one of those friends.

FRONT HUGS FOREVER. I sound like a freak.