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.

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


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As much of a history buff as I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know March was Women’s History Month. But now that I do, I’m amazed by all the inspirational stories of women’s remarkable achievements.


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Too bad Natasha and Sawyer do not still live at home; it would be fun to start a conversation by asking them what women they find inspiring.


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I already know who they would pick. The first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I’d have to agree with them. Your Ferrari racing has made an impact on so many people. But especially girls.


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Until you mentioned it several years ago, I never thought about that. In the 1970s, I was one of the few women in business school. I then made a career in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. I am used to being a “token” female.


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Trust me. I watch people whenever we’ve done speaking engagements. It’s predictable ... we put up the family tree, and Natasha and Sawyer get awws, but your two racecars get everyone’s attention.
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Image by filipefrazao on iStock

Were you like Red and shocked when the actor Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43 after battling colon cancer for years? Cancer isn’t only for older people, and recent studies show more people under 50 are getting cancer. (Doctors aren’t sure why but suspect it may be due to less physical activity, more highly processed foods, and new toxins.) That’s why cancer screenings are more important than ever!

February may be Cancer Prevention Month – but we need to do it all year! Every year. And is why we’re rerunning last year’s post …



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I know that cancer isn’t the “death sentence” it used to be when we were growing up, but it’s still a very scary word. Especially if it’s heard “close to home”.


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When we were young, the word was rarely said. And if it was, it was whispered or referred to as the “ c-word.”


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Kind of like when I had my two miscarriages. No one wanted even to acknowledge, let alone talk about, them. Which made it all the more difficult to get through it, although intellectually, I knew it was not uncommon.


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Unfortunately, neither is cancer. It is the second-leading cause of death in the world, surpassed only by heart disease. But, at least, it is no longer a taboo subject.


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Please don’t make this about numbers. It’s about people. Which you should know. I’m sure you remember when Daddy was diagnosed with parotid gland cancer , which luckily was treatable. And I’ve had skin cancer, although I was very fortunate, it was caught early and easily treated.
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Even though Red’sthe warm and fuzzy one and Black’s extremely pragmatic, we both think of hearts on Valentine’s Day. Just not in quite the same way …



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Happy Valentine’s Day. And before you say anything, yes, I know you don’t celebrate holidays, so just humor me.


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But, I do “celebrate” February being American Heart Month since heart disease is the leading cause of death – for both men and women.


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Gee, that’s one way to turn a “fun” holiday into a real downer. Today’s supposed to be about letting people you love and care about know that you’re thinking of them. Think Hallmark cards, squishy teddy bears, chocolate hearts.
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