When saying hello or goodbye, one has at his disposal a few options.
1. The Bow. Unless you’re Japanese – and in Japan – or you’re making the acquaintance of Queen Elizabeth, I would suggest foregoing the bow route.
2. The Wave. Comes in handy for the germophobic segment of the population. Also, a very passive-aggressive gesture. Akin to saying, “I like you, but not enough to touch you. In fact, you’re kind of gross. Don’t get too close.”
3. The Handshake. This type of exchange is just that… Ahem, do you know where that hand has been? Very likely somewhere you don’t want to know about. And now it’s touching your hand. And whatever is on that hand is now on your hand. Don’t be surprised if you have pinkeye in the morning.
4. The Kiss. Unless you’re smooching your significant other or young offspring, I would highly discourage lip-to-lip contact; it might get you arrested. Not quite as alarming is the cheek kiss. Most Europeans do it. Most Europeans also shower twice a week. Proceed with caution.
5. The Nose Rub. Cute if you’re five-years-old and an Eskimo, but otherwise a bit weird. If you don’t believe me, try nose rubbing your boss at your next review.
Which leaves us with The Hug. Hugs are multifunctional. They can be used in times of happiness or sadness, triumph or defeat. Moreover, hugs have no restrictions. Use them anywhere. One can hug at home or school, the hospital or airport without worry of repercussion. Not to mention, a hug can get you out of a bind when that creeper blind date goes in for a kiss. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.
Most importantly, a hug can brighten someone’s day… and I’m not referring to the lucky recipient. Think about it. How many times have you regretted giving someone a hug? It’s the best pick-me-up around. Quicker than a vacation. Easier than losing that muffin top. Cheaper than drugs.
However, a word to the wise… Commit to the hug. Worse than a limp handshake, no one likes a bad hug. It makes both you and the hugee feel terrible. You know you gave a bad hug. They know you gave a bad hug. They don’t say anything about it. You want to apologize, or at least explain what happened – perhaps you realized as you were hugging that you had forgotten the deodorant that day – but you also don’t say anything. The only thing more awkward than a bad hug is saying, “Sorry about that hug.”
Otherwise, the hug is the hands down winner. Still don’t believe me? Then I present to you a hug challenge. Pick a target. I can be anyone. Your spouse of ten years that you hug everyday anyway (I hope!) or your coworker who totally covered for you the day after that crazy holiday party when you were too hungover to show your ragged face at work. Once you have selected your target, just do it. Hug them. Hug them good. Hug them hard. Let ‘em know you mean it. Then see what their reaction is. Sure, you might initially get a confused “what was that for?” look, but I guarantee within moments it will transform into a goofy smile and giddy laugh. Why? Because someone just showed them love. Who doesn’t love love? And once you see that goofy smile and hear that giddy laugh, you’ll have your answer. It’ll be a wonderfully weird but totally rewarding moment.
Good luck. May the Hug be with you.