bearhugIn some situations I suppose one could say that I am awkward. Specifically social situations. That require interaction. I mean, I can carry on a conversation and not look like a total outcast (I think), but it takes me a little time to warm up and be ready for that kind of thing. Which is why my most awkward moment is when I do my hello/goodbyes.

I mean I know enough that if I’ve never met the person before I go in for a handshake (which admittedly is sometimes met with an awkward glance, especially from the ladies). But what about acquaintances? Those people that I kinda know, who are in the same friend group, but whom I haven’t really spent time with outside of the group? A handshake feels a bit too formal for those situations.

Sometimes that situation is complicated further with the peck on the cheek thing. That just completely throws me off. I generally have no clue that it’s coming, and I’m unsure of the mechanics. If I try to go in for a cheek peck too, then my cheek is turned and the person can’t actually make contact. Or what normally happens is that I miss it entirely, and I’m in to close and get this awkward kiss on the neck or like behind the ear.

That’s why I like to stick to the perfect interaction… the hug.

A hug is Goldilocks-level just right. It’s not as formal as a handshake, bro-douchey as a fist bump, or specific as a high-five (NOTE: high-fives are only allowed when something awesome happens. Don’t greet me with a high-five. You’re ruining the magic when you do that). It’s much less intimate than a kiss (in spite of the fact that there’s more body contact), and it’s not nearly as athletic or sexual harassment-y as a slap on the ass.

In fact, a hug is really the Swiss Army knife of social interactions. You can use it in that aforementioned weird gray area of acquaintanceship. Even if a hug isn’t warranted, if you hug it’s just generally assumed that you’re a “hugger.” It’s slightly weird, but accepted. You can use it in times of grief. A hug will let someone know “I’m here for you”. It’s perfect on the opposite end of the spectrum of ecstatic joy, letting that person know “I agree with the reason that you’re so happy!” It’s perfect for the first date that didn’t reach the makeout-sesh/sexy-time level. Speaking of which, it’s a good precursor to snuggling and/or sexy time.

But it goes beyond that. If you’re a boxer and you need a quick break, give ‘em a hug! Are you a bear and want to crush something with your arms? Hug! Show the world you’re a dirty hippie? Tree hug! Don’t know how to use the bathroom? Hug-gies! OK maybe not that last one. But I think you get the point.

It’s because of its versatility that I’ll bust out a hug more often than not. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t pitfalls to hugging. You have to be careful about how you go about hugging. The duration and the strength of the embrace are of paramount importance. I’ve spent years perfecting the squeeze force and duration. I’ve got complex calculations I use to figure out exactly how hard and how long to hug (so if you meet up with me and I bust out a calculator, you’ll know a hug’s on the way). But don’t worry. You don’t need to have any fancy formulas to hug. It’s as simple as opening your arms and closing them around someone. An awkward hug is is still a hug. So hug away. Just don’t grab their ass unless you know it’s totally OK to do so and you’ll be fine.