Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … Is It Hug Or Ugh?

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


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Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


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But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


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No, it is merely a fact.


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I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


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Maybe a fist bump?

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The good news is that I don’t take it personally, although I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wish they were huggers. Regardless, it reminds me of how we used to greet people at business meetings in the “good ole days” when we actually had in-person meetings. If it was people we’d worked with before, I’d be giving everyone hello hugs while you’d be standing there, with your body language “screaming” … “Can we just get straight to business?”

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Body language can be so efficient. But, it is a business meeting.

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But you’re the same way even at family dinners and social events. And on the rare occasion that you do give someone a hug, I always think the recipient should remember it because it’s a really big deal. And sometimes, I even point that out.

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Which usually makes me roll my eyes.

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Hey, I’m just trying to warn them not to get used to it, or even expect it again, so they appreciate it.

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My eye-rolling is not about you; it is about the person wanting to hug me. Especially when they know me, because they must know that hugging is not something I would ever initiate.

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To be honest, I don’t think people think about it. It’s just a warm and welcoming gesture.

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You are right about the thinking part. After all, if someone knows I do not like to hug, but still wants to hug me, that seems rather selfish.

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I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. If you said to them, “Please do not hug me,” and they chose to ignore you, that might be considered selfish. Not to mention, risky.

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Sounds like a personal problem. If they are that insistent on hugging me, then it seems to me that they need the hug.


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Well, if you ask me, the whole topic of hugging has gotten way too complicated. Especially since the pandemic. But I can still remember watching one of Sawyer’s volleyball coaches starting to give her a hug and then stopping.


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Did he suddenly remember that she is not much of a hugger?


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No, it was because it was the beginning of the #MeToo era, and he was being mindful (my word, not his) that his players were teenage girls. And although he knew Sawyer, and me, very well, I guess he thought it was better to err on the safe side.


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The world has changed. But, it does make things more complicated for huggers.


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Sawyer may not be a hugger, but she does make concessions to hugging much easier than you or Natasha, who obviously hate it and would probably outlaw it if possible.


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Now you are the one making the overstatement. I do not hate the concept of hugs. And, there is science behind the importance of hugs, including how they can relieve stress.


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I was just waiting for your non-emotional perspective on hugs.


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And, I respect what they should represent – affection, concern, love, appreciation, or just the joy of seeing someone. For some people, it is easier than words.


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That’s an interesting perspective. And makes me think about how you sometimes will end an email by writing, “With an electronic hug.” It surprised me the first time I saw it, although I immediately liked it. So much so that I now often use it myself.


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I know. I should charge you a royalty fee.


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Cute. But how did you come up with that phrase anyway?


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I know that emails can be very impersonal, and as much as I love bullet points and keeping things very factual, sometimes the recipient needs something more. An “electronic hug” seemed to be a good compromise.



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Well, I love it. As ironic as it is coming from someone who hates to give an actual, in-person, up close and personal, hug.


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Actually, I sometimes do give hugs to people I think genuinely need it. I just hate getting them.

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You didn’t seem to mind the night before Sawyer left for college, and she got out of the car when we were dropping you off to give you a goodbye hug.


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I think I was in shock.


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Well, I know I was …

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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