My Neighbour Errol- Awkward Hugs
I am not known as a…huggy person. It’s not that I don’t like them. Don’t get me wrong, I love hugs. When someone offers one, I will fully accept it. When I’ve known someone for ten years I am completely comfortable. But I’m not usually one to pass out hugs like cookies…then again, I’m not one to pass out cookies either.
Part of this is that physical contact of any sort usually holds a bit more weight for me. I have a large bubble of personal space, and letting people into that bubble usually takes time. When I make a friend, getting to the “it’s okay to hug now” stage actually cements the friendship somewhat. It’s a sign of trust and affection.
But not everyone operates under this belief, and I fully understand that. I also understand how I might come off as a hater of hugs. And so I try, to the best of my ability, to accommodate those hug lovers out there by sharing in their huggy ways. When it comes to simply accepting an offered hug, there’s usually not much of a problem.
When it comes to initiating hugs however, well…that’s when things get awkward.
There is just something about initiating a hug that is absolutely terrifying to me. There comes that moment in every meet-up where you have to decide whether there will be a hug or not. And in that moment, all the possible outcomes cross my mind: are good enough friends yet? do they want a hug? are they not hug people? would they think it’s weird? am i weird? should I wait for them to start? Is the moon full, because that’s important. And so on…
Errol knows this about me. It was one of the first things he discovered about me. Contrary to popular belief, Errol is actually quite adept at reading social cues. Normally, an extrovert who is fully aware of how introverts operate and what might make them uncomfortable is a good thing. But we’re not talking about any extrovert here. We’re talking about Errol, and he only uses this power for evil. See this vid as proof.
The other night we were walking into the subway. We weren’t talking about much: Creative projects, geek shows, shawarma. Then came the moment to part. Normally this involved a wave goodbye followed by a “chat with you later”. I was about to say this when something unexpected happened. Errol’s arms began to go up in an undeniably hug-like motion.
My first reaction was panic. What game was this? Why a hug now? We hadn’t been talking about anything important. But, at the same time, I thought “Hey, I’ve known Errol a while now. He is my friend. Of course I’m going to return the hug, stop being ridiculous”.
But as I stepped forward boldly, suddenly a look of terror passed over his face, and he stepped back. His arms withdrew and he folded them in extreme discomfort, quietly mumbling “Oh…sorry” as he avoided my gaze.
At that moment I panicked. Why did he stop? What did I do? Was that not a hug at all? Was he upset? Did I assume? Why did I have to pick that moment to be comfortable? Were we not friends anymore? Did I just ruin a friendship or an ill timed hug?
Another fact about me is that I have no poker face whatsoever. Within a second of looking at my panicked and confused expression Errol burst into uncontrollable laughter, proclaiming out loud “I can play you like a fiddle!” . He then practically hopped with unabashed glee, reveling in his victory and my embarrassment.
All of this happened within the span of ten seconds. In the next five seconds, my face went red, I punched him in the arm, and he laughed even harder. Then I was left to board my train, shaking my head and muttering all the way home. On the plus side, it guaranteed I got a seat to myself.
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
The worst part of it? Right before he left, laughing all the way, he gave a quick one-armed hug and without thinking I returned it like an idiot. So much for sweet, sweet revenge.