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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Hug it out, or not

Today I rise in defense of the uneasy hugger.

The Slice has, on more than one occasion, considered whether Spokane is a hugging town. (It depends.) But today I offer a full-throated defense of those who are reluctant to embrace everyone who walks into the room.

First though, we need to dispense with the usual allegations hurled against those who are not promiscuous about entering into a full-bodied clench with practically anyone they meet.

You know the list of charges. The nonhugger is said to be emotionally stunted, cold and withholding or chronically uptight.

In some cases, all that might be true.

But what if the individual in question simply does not regard hugging as appropriate for every occasion? Does that automatically imply that the person needs therapy to get in touch with his or her tragically repressed feelings?

It’s a question worth asking at this time of year because we are now in hugging season.

We all know the drill. “I won’t see you again until after the holidays, so…”

Grapple, grapple, grapple.

Of course, there are different kinds of nonhuggers.

Some are quite capable of initiating an embrace in certain, select situations. And when on the receiving end of a social wrestling hold, they have no problem returning the hug with warmth and feeling.

Others hear “C’mere, you big lug” and then awkwardly endure another’s enveloping with stiffness and a grimace.

It’s almost as if militant huggers believe it is their right, no, their obligation to seek out nonhuggers and squeeze the reticence out of them.

Well, what about the nonhugger’s rights?

Where is it written that he or she has no say in how affection is expressed?

OK, we need to understand that there is a broad spectrum of hugger/nonhugger encounters. They range from totally sincere and emotionally fraught to suspiciously lingering breast smushing.

All hugs are not the same. Just as all nonhuggers are not identical.

Some nonhuggers fully realize that in situations where emotional support needs to be demonstrated, a physical embrace can be the way to go.

But what about when two people are simply saying hello? Is pressing your bodies together derigueur?

All I’m saying here is nonhuggers have feelings, too. They’re just a bit more subtle in how they express them.

Today’s Slice question: What was the most unexpected circumstance in which the holiday spirit seized you?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. If residents of Whoville were known as Whos, what would those in your community be called?

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