The Luv Doc: A Surreptitious Grope

Not exactly the Kama Sutra of hugs

The Luv Doc: A Surreptitious Grope

Dear Luv Doc,

I moved here two years ago from the Northeast and I am very happy with my new adopted state/city. I love the weather (yes, even the heat), I love the food, I love the parks, the rivers, the lakes, and yes, I love the people – for the most part. There is, however, one thing that I just can't seem to get used to: the hugging. Why does everyone in Austin feel the need to hug me after even the most insignificant interaction? Work colleagues, people at parties (oh my God, people at parties), my hairdresser – even the trainer at my gym. The sweaty trainer at my gym. Why? What happened to the concept of personal space? What happened to a good old-fashioned handshake? I have been hugged more times in the last two years than I have in the rest of my entire life. It's like everyone in Austin is trying to cop a feel. What gives?Feeling Squeezed


I blame Roy Spence. Roy is one of the owners of GSD&M who apparently squeezed a multimillion dollar ad agency out of his penchant for pressing flesh. Roy wrote a whole book about hugging: The 10 Essential Hugs of Life. It's not exactly the Kama Sutra of hugs, but it's fairly exhaustive. There were some notable omissions. For instance, he didn't include the "Priest-with-a-noticeable-boner" hug (who wants to relive that, right?), or the "Motorboat-my-old-lady-cleavage" hug (bane of all 10-year-olds), or the "Creepy-sallow-faced-funeral-director-with-the-clammy-hands-awkwardly-long-fake-sympathy-hug" (I think we'd all rather French-kiss a Death Eater, wouldn't we?). But all in all, Spence covered as many first bases as the loose decorum of self-help literature should ever allow.

I have scanned the chapter titles, and I am still not sold. Admittedly, I am a child of a mixed marriage. My mom was a hugger and my dad was not. He was always good for a handshake or a sharp whack on the head with one of his knuckles when I got out of line, but I can count the hugs I got from him on two fingers: One was when my wedding photographer asked us to hug each other – as if that were perfectly normal. I have actual photographic evidence that it was clearly not. The other was when my mom died. I won't get into that other than to say it was partially the result of being traumatized by the frostbite the funeral director's hands left on my back.

In other words, I am not a fully committed hugger, but I have a confession: I would like to be. There are several reasons for this. First, I don't know where your hands have been. You could have just finished treating your foot fungus or massaging your perineum. I don't know, but I would rather you touch my back than my hands. I am not going to be eating a cheeseburger with my shoulder blades anytime soon. Second, hugging feels intimate, and your arguments against intimacy are mostly bullshit. No ... really ... they are. If you disagree with me, some introspection might be in order. And lastly, I want to be a hugger because hugging makes certain people feel really awkward and uncomfortable – and those are exactly the type of people who could really use a hug.

That said, I still haven't gotten very good at it. I have a friend who always says, "Bring it in bro, I'm a hugger." I think he means that sincerely and without conscience, but for me that is a true act of bravery. So, to answer your question: Maybe people in Austin (and arguably in the South in general) are either emotionally brave or hopelessly naive? Who cares, really, as long as they're lovable? They deserve a surreptitious grope just for that, don't they? Welcome to Austin!

Need some advice from the Luv Doc? Send your questions to the Luv Doc, or check out the Luv Doc Archive.

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