Al Batt: Hug life and it will surely give you a hug back

Published 8:27 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

The day hadn’t let any light in yet.

I found my way to a cafe for breakfast.

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Breakfast is my favorite meal.

Three tables were hosting groups. There was the coffee klatsch where caffeine helped solve all the world’s problems. There was the coughing corner made up of cigarette smokers who needed to make numerous trips outside for smokes. Then there was the table of the morning impaired. These were folks who looked dazed and confused, wondering why their days had to start so early. They were people who told you “good morning” and then told you why it’s not.

A woman entered the eatery. A morning impaired man rose from his chair and the two hugged. Then she found a seat with the coffee bunch and hugged a mug of coffee. Coffee can be a hug in a cup to some folks.

The hug was a pleasant sight. Heartwarming.

Then another woman entered the scene. The hugging man arose from his chair with arms outspread to hug the new arrival.

The new arrival put her hands in front of her with the palms facing outward. It was an invitation to grab hands.

You might call it a double handshake. I call it hug blocking. I have no doubt that chronic huggers encounter such moves frequently. Fist and elbow bumps are self-defense tactics for those averse to hugging. Some take the coward’s way out by using the hide and whimper method to avoid hugs.

I’ve had that awkward moment where I’ve gone for a handshake and the other party goes for a hug or vice versa. It’s another reason why everyone should wear a safety helmet at all times.

Then there is the difficult determination of the time limit before a hug becomes inappropriate. Slow hugs can be both wonderful and uncomfortable. If people gather around taking videos of you with their cellphones, the hug is too long.

Hugs have become commonplace. I experience them at reunions, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, birthdays and the drop of a hat. I see more hugs than I could shake a stick at. Of course, I’ve never shaken a stick at even a single hug.

Hugs are often accompanied by real kisses, pecks on a cheek, air kisses or a pat on the back.

Some people even hug porcelain when flu symptoms strike.

I hug people, but it can seem like an odd behavior to me. My family didn’t hand out hugs freely.

We were aware that a kind word is a hug from the inside. My mother excelled at that kind of hugging. I knew about tree huggers and bear hugs. I’ve never hugged a polar bear, but I’ve hugged a few trees. I grew up in a time when the only hugging I’d see was at funerals and wakes. To hug at any other time was to be nuttier than a squirrel’s diaper. That’s not completely true. I went to a birthday party once when I was a kid and the birthday girl’s mother made each guest hug her. And we still had to give her gifts!

We knew someone who was a hugger. A serial hugger. We heard such a person often referred to this way, “She’s a caution.”

I had a dog that I tried to teach to shake hands, but he turned out to be more of a hugger.

I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt reading, “Look out! I’m a hugger.”

I watched an uncle, dressed in spiffy clothing including cufflinks, who was new to the hugging game, as he hugged another man at a family reunion. It was as if he were hugging a cactus. Two Viking defensive tackles could have fit easily into the gap between the two. I called it a church hug.

A Minnesota Twins fan held up a sign reading, “Miguel Sano, can I have a hug?”

The Twins star gave her a big hug during the game.

Hugging a large, sweaty guy tests the dedication of both a hugger and a Twins fan.

Snuffles is a TV cartoon dog employed by Quick Draw McGraw to hound bad guys. He needs bribing with a dog biscuit before doing his job. After eating one, he hugs himself ecstatically, levitates into the air and floats contentedly back to the ground.

Hugging is a good thing. Perhaps dinosaurs wouldn’t have gone extinct if they’d done a little more hugging.

A few words of caution about hugging.

My neighbor Crandall said that he was about to hug someone he loves when his face hit the mirror.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.