I’ve often thought of my cat, Pearl, during my vacation this week. As I’ve traveled with my family, the Pearl-cat has valiantly guarded my apartment, Mole End, protecting it from burglars.
…Nah, whom am I kidding? Pearl has probably spent the week napping, with brief breaks to freak out over nothing and run around the apartment like a cheetah on fire. This is what she does. It is her way.
When I get home, I’ll sweep up Pearl into my arms for Mandatory Cuddles. The Pearl-cat doesn’t like Mandatory Cuddles. As I snuggle her to my chest, she generally glances away with an expression of pained dignity, and occasionally claws and scratches until I put her down.
That’s more or less my reaction when people hug me, except with less clawing and scratching. A little less.
I don’t like hugs. Who invented hugging anyway? At some point in human history, someone must have said, “Here, let me show my affection by smooshing my upper body against your upper body and wrapping my arms around you.” Am I the only one who thinks that’s weird and a little bit uncomfortable?
While I’m a bit of a curmudgeon, I accept hugs from acquaintances without complaint. My friends know me better… and they hug me anyway. I respond to these hugs with pained expressions and mild grumbling. My friends take these in stride, God bless them.
I don’t mind hugs from close family members; in fact, my younger brother and I share awkward sibling hugs all the time. (The pats are essential.) Since I know my family so well, I feel less uncomfortable when they awkwardly press their bodies against mine.
Someone once proposed a theory that human beings demonstrate affection according to five basic methods, known as the Five Love Languages: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Thoughtful Gifts, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch. (My parents and I practice a sixth Love Language: Cups of Coffee.) For many people, hugs and other forms of physical touch are simply expressions of love.
For me, hugs are just kinda awkward.
I have no right to be upset when people hug me, of course. I give my cat Mandatory Cuddles even though she doesn’t like them, so it’s only fair that I endure a little discomfort, too. That won’t stop me from grumbling about it. Grumbling is what I do. It is my way.
In conclusion, if you ever see me, maybe give me a fist bump? A fist bump will be great.