Ultraq's Final MooCow

Bits and pieces by Emanuel Rabina

Emanuel sandwich

1 day with my new BEDA buddies and I've already embarrassed myself: here's me saying I buy girly deodorant. What will tomorrow bring? I don't even want to know.

Speaking of looking forward to tomorrow, today's post is going to be about hugs... that, and I need to work on my segues.

Over the years I've developed a reputation for not being the most hug-giving person; I didn't hug my friends for regular things like meeting up for the day, parting ways after a party or other event, or saying thank you. I'd often save it for things like birthdays (even then, only hugging the birthday boy/girl), or, as we grew up and some started doing overseas travel, for seeing friends off / welcoming them back. But one friend in particular, I didn't hug AT ALL.

This friend was a hug Nazi and would hug somebody for any reason: hellos, goodbyes, saying one of her magic words like 'amazing', wearing something that she liked the look of, sending said friend more than 2 text messages, etc etc. When she'd try to get a hug out of me I would either walk the other way, or if there weren't any readily-available exits, just stand there and not hug back. It made for a good laugh amongst our group, but it was this behaviour that got me that reputation.

I remember the reasoning I used back then to tell myself why I was doing this: by reducing the frequency of my hugs, it would increase their value. It's a bit similar in the way that commodity prices are set (rare = higher price), but I think it has worked-out exactly like that.

Fast-forward to the hug nazi's 21st birthday. Having withheld hugs from her for about 5 years, it became a part of my speech when it was my turn to say a few words about her. Something was brought up which had her try to hug me while I was talking - I probably said the word 'amazing' - but of course I didn't hug back, to which she said out loud to everyone listening to my speech "And Em never hugs back!". She started recounting a time at university when she ended-up chasing me for a hug where I kept on walking away. It was funny, and it made for the perfect lead-up to what I was about to do: give her a hug for her 21st birthday.

It got an "awwwww" from her parents, aunties, uncles, and the older crowd. It also got an "awwwww" from our friends, accompanied however with gasps of surprise (OMG Em's giving her a hug WTF!?).

Several years on and while I've loosened-up the hugging criteria, it still gets the occasional comment from the recipient. Sometimes they're even called "Em hugs", used in sentences such as "Yay it's an Em hug!", or in the case of man hugs, "Holy shit it's an Em hug!" as if they were something special.

While still free, my hugs are probably on the opposite end of the giving scale

I was thinking about all of this because last night at a friend's 25th birthday party there were a lot of hugs going on:

  • when I arrived I gave the birthday boy a hug
  • shortly afterwards I hugged my friend the bride-to-be after learning that she and her boyfriend had (finally) set a wedding date
  • later on another couple (this one already married) arrived and, with no more room for them on the couch, the wife sat on the arm rest to my side, gave me a great big hug which pushed me into another hug with the aforementioned bride-to-be (hug sandwich #1)
  • and as we parted ways (I and some others were headed home, the rest were going into the city to continue the party), I got caught in another hug sandwich that started with one of the guys surprise hugging me from the front, followed by a girl I had only known for a week hugging me from behind, and then hug nazi came and finished us off with an epic hug from the side (hug sandwich #2)

With that last one, I think another of the guys jumped in on that hug bringing it to a 5-person group hug. I do know that we were cheered-on by those driving by. And I also remember girl-I-have-only-known-for-1-week licked the back of my neck... or that could've been the mystery 5th guy...

So now I wonder: did withholding my hugs when I was younger really pay off? Was I really trying to increase their value, or was I just trying to be different? And have I sold-out with my own hugging criteria, or are my friends just becoming more persistent when it comes to stealing an Em hug?