Embracing protocol

I am not the most tactile of people.  As I have probably mentioned before, I don’t like to get my hands dirty in a quite literal sense – I’m fine with personal indulgence in moral turpitude, just as long as my actual hands remain clean.  I have never really felt the urge to reach out and touch people: for a start, I don’t know where they’ve been nor to what standards of personal hygiene they subscribe.

For much of my adult life, the social requirement to make physical contact with others has been relatively limited.  The need to shake the odd hand (and some are very odd, and surprisingly often wet) in formal situations and to kiss (or be kissed) by the occasional female relative has been sufficient to lubricate the wheels of social intercourse and avoid me being identified as a “wrong ‘un” (obviously, there may be other clues which are less easily masked and I fear this blog will be used in evidence when I do go on my inevitable rampage).  However, in recent years there has been increasing pressure on a chap to hug other people – and not just those joined to us by links sanguineous.  I don’t think we can blame all of this upswing in clasping on either Guy Garvey or the McNamara brothers: there must be broader social forces at play.

For those carrying a Y-chromosome there may be a generational aspect to this need to embrace.  My father would not thank me were I to attempt to take him in a clinch, whereas with my brother-in-law it is de rigeur (despite the fact that he is much older than me).  However, it is those possessing a Roman score, chromosonally-speaking, that seem most keen to share a hug with the author – and I am not talking about youthful floozies here, these are ladies d’un certain âge and, one might hope, a commensurate maturity.  Why are they drawn into the ambit of my reluctant arms?  I have developed a number of theories which might explain the lure.

  • I, somehow, unconsciously exude the aura of a man uniquely skilled in the art of the embrace.  To be held, in my needlessly elongated arms, is to achieve some sort of nirvana of solace and be offered the very apogee of comfort.  I find this hypothesis unlikely – though have not formally polled even a modest sample of potential embracees.  I’ve tried hugging myself and it does very little for me – mostly it makes me acutely aware of how bony my arms are.  I suppose my arm length could be an attraction for the more generously-fleshed woman who wishes to be completely encircled, but this can only be true for a modest subset of those targetting me.
  • Could it be that the ladies just want to get up close and personal with my firm, gymnastics-sculpted body and that the hug is a social acceptable route to a little low level frottage?  Am I falling prey to a form of relatively innocent sexual harassment?  Has my dream of objectification finally come true?  Again, I have my doubts about this explanation – though entertaining it is doing wonders for my fragile ego.
  • Maybe I just look so bereft of love and affection that people are overcome by an urge to mother me?  I like to imagine that I ooze happy-go-lucky charm into the world, but perhaps some can see through this thin facade to perceive my inner torment.  Are all these hugs an attempt to offer a little consolation to yours truly?  Is this just the start of a more serious intervention?

None of these explanations seems entirely satisfactory, so perhaps the answer is ‘all of the above’?  However, recently many hugs have taken a more sinister turn with the object of my embrace seeking to introduce an osculatory element into the process.  So far, the target of foreign lips has been limited to my upper cheeks – but could this escalate further, if left unchecked?  Am I supposed to reciprocate and endure the rather unpleasant taste of foundation?  I may have to consider wearing a mask and claiming that I have been hideously disfigured (not too much of a stretch) in some sort of freak smooching accident.  Then again, would this just increase the desire to hold me tight?    I am seriously out of my depth here, people.  HELP!

Feel free to continue the lunacy...

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