Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Awkward Hugs

I use to work at a pretty popular nightclub in the 90's. I managed the place with my brother (the one who always comments here as Anonymous). He was the big Mahoff and I was the little Mahoff. Besides the day to day operations we both worked the front door on most nights as, for lack of a better description, glorified greeters.

We greeted everyone. Frome Hollywood movie stars to hookers, from Atletes to the bus boys who worked at the local restaurants. We treated everyone the same. The club had a very large Italian clientele as well and we soon both learned the European greeting of kissing both cheeks of the guest. Including the male customers.

It usually went something like this. The guest would walk to the front door and upon seeing me or my bother would raise his arms as if waiting for a hug and would say "YO, How you doin? This place bumpin tonight? Or what?" The guest would then lower his hand to shake my hand and then hug me with the other arm and then kiss both of my cheeks. I would kind of make the kissing noise to both of his cheeks and then the person would enter the club.

At first, it was uncomfortable, since we were Irish boys from the suburbs and somewhat out of our element, but after a while we got used to it.

My brother and I must have done this European gretting at least 150 to 200 times a night. 4 to 5 nights a week.

After doing this for about a year my brother took a night off to go out with his wife and another couple they had not seen in a few years. My brother, out of habbit, greeted the husband of the other couple by hugging him and kissing both of his cheeks.

Apparently the guy was little freaked out by my brother's affection.

I keep thinking of this story because my 20 year reunion is next week.

I see my group of friends about every two months. When I see some of my guy friends I still give them a handshake and a "Bro Hug".

When I see my female friends, sometimes it is a kiss on the cheek, and sometimes it is a hug. But most times we do that awkward dance of where they lean in for what appears to be a kiss on the cheek. And so I lean in to return the kiss to their cheek but then realize they were just leaning in for a hug and it becomes an awkward moment of suspended animation. I have a split second to figure out if I should stay committed to the kiss on their cheek and end up kissing their ear. Or change direction and give them the half hearted hug. It freaks me out all the time. And part of me knows that it freaks them out too. I think Ali and L Mac know what I am talking about.

Recently, I made the decision that I would just give my female friends a kiss on the cheek. It is easier. They do not have to stand to greet me, if the are already seated and I can just lean in and give them a peck. But some of them are still huggers and awkwardness continues. But now I am committed to the kiss and can stay on target.

But now with the Reunion around the corner I know that I will be seeing people I have not seen in 10 years. Some of them were people I was very close to both men and women. Are they huggers? Kissers? Or are they just firm handshakers? I can see many awkward moments happening. I need to come up with an official greeting.

What are you? A hugger? Kisser?

49 comments:

eclectic said...

Definitely a hugger. My whole family is big on hugs. (Except my husband, who was raised in New England and can barely stand contact. The wedding was fun for him as you can imagine...!)

beeeeeeeee said...

I'm a hugger, hubby is a kisser so we compromise with a huss (or is it a kig?)

Denise said...

Im a hugger. My family is very affectionate and I have continued the tradition. The story of your brother kissing that friend was so funny. Im sure he hates that you tell that story.

Tiff said...

I am both. I learned of the European greeting from a friend of mine from Peru. I got used to it like you. It's a tad nerve wracking trying to figure out the other persons preference.

Amy Genn said...

I'm a hugger...because I also am a "germaphobe"...I HATE shaking hands...and kissing isn't in the cards for me either! LOL!

Sharkey said...

I'm definitely in the hug camp, and it seems like kissers are more common here than they are in Minnesota. You never see those stoic Scandinavians kissing casual acquaintances. It was quite a culture shock when I moved here, so I know what you mean.

tricki_nicki said...

I think you should totally change it up on everyone and give the guys kisses and the girls "bro hugs". That's some serious blog fodder right there.

Tismee2 said...

Can I say first that it isn't totally a 'European thing'. Here in the UK you'd get thumped if you tried to do that to someone you didn't know.

Personally I have my own little space and feel uncomfortable when anyone strange gets into it. I prefer a handshake if on business or a nice friendly smile on other occasions.

But If you're comfortable hugging, then I'd say 'hug away'.

gigglepotamus said...

when in doubt offer the cheek & a hug-- there's nothing worse when you both go in for the kiss and end up smacking each other on the lips.

Steve said...

I always find a lot of tongue really makes everyone feel like a soulmate.

Seriously, I usually hug & kiss women and hug guys.

kcinnova said...

It has only been in the last 5 years that I met any male kissers, and they only kiss females on the cheek. It still shocks me to get a kiss from an adult male who is not my husband.
In a reunion situation, I'd say go for the hugs - those are probably the safest option. Fewer germs, too! (It's cold & flu season, remember?)

Bogart in P Towne said...

Handshake if I don't know you.

Double hand-handshake if I know you, but would not go to the movies alone with you.

Bro hug if we would go to the movies, but I would not hang out with you alone at home.

Hug if we go to the movies alone, hang out at home alone and you are male.

I kiss all the ladies...that is just how I do.

Fulton Quads said...

Definitely a hug from a friend. I really don't like getting kisses from anyone other than my hubby. I once had this guy, a former co worker, try to give me a kiss so I turned my face & made him kiss my cheek. It was a wet gooey mess! I also steer clear of hand shakes after getting what was probably the strongest one from this pub owner, a woman, that practically broke my hand. I guess she is a great business woman!! ha! Ever since I go in for a hug & steer clear of kisses & hand shakes.

teri said...

I'm a hugger but only to my close friends.

Everyone else gets a handshake.

Anonymous said...

I think you should consider copping a few cheap feels at the re-union. I think after 20 years they might even be well received.

geeksinrome said...

I started out as a hugger and then I moved to Italy and was forced to become a kisser.

So now when I go home I am so used to "the faux Euro kiss" that I freak out every new acquaintance or person I meet. (My real friends go with it. Of course, why not; they lovah me tu.)

BUT, a real danger I have encountered with the fake kiss over here in Italy is I often mess up the cheek you're supposed to aim at (is it the right cheek? the left?)

So what happens is I head toward their left, they're brandishing their right, I realize I made a mistake so I start to head right, but they have already started to compensate by turning back to give their left and we hit each other on the lips. NASTY!!

It happens so often I think people believe it's some nefarious ploy of mine to suck face with everyone. not.

joanna said...

Why don't you try an Intercourse Hello?

Do you watch Seinfeld? If not, maybe that wasn't funny at all. That might have been completely inappropriate. I apologize.

CM said...

Hugger.
I only kiss my immediate family, and really do not like being kissed by anybody else.

Cole said...

Two favors when you see me:

1. No kiss
2. Avoid any impulse for a hipgrind, too

I like you . . . love you like a brother even . . . but a handshake and clap on the back is good.

Ern said...

I have always been a big hugger, but my years in diverse California have made me quite accustomed to the cheek kiss. The question is: one, two, or three kisses? Depends on where the person is from. Can be very awkward.

Anonymous said...

I would go with the "cheek lick". That tends to break the ice :)

Mainline Mom said...

I'm a hugger. Actually I'm not that physically affectionate at all, but every year when I go to my annual convention I get more and more hugs, and I like it! The person who I CONSISTANTLY have the awkward hug/kiss with is my boss. I work remotely so I only see him once or twice a year, and I've known him a long time and consider him a friend. So that would be a hug, but he is a kisser. He always ends up kissing my ear/hair. Seriously, it's weird.

Lowa said...

I am just a hugger in general.

However, they have the custom you mentioned down in Costa Rica. I went there to visit my brother's kids a few times and it took me by surprise as well. We would run into their friends at the mall and these kids I didn't know were kissing both my cheeks all the time:) I got to where I didn't mind it and it was just fine. I of course did it back as well, as is custom.

My brother (the father of said kids I went to visit) came with me on one visit. His wife had divorced him when the kids were very very young, so he had to go visit them all the time instead of being able to raise them. Which is another story.

Anyway, we are also Irish. I will never forget when we first ran into some of the kids' friends at the mall and they greeted my brother! He had been to Costa Rica a few times prior to this (as had I, just never at the same time) and he must have forgotten about the custom. Or wanted to make it clear he didn't like it. Or SOMETHING!! These guys were leaning in and kissing my brother's cheeks and he yelped "WHOA WHOA! What is THIS!??!" and jumped back:)

Awwww...maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny:)

Anonymous said...

I think that should be the name of your screen play or the name of your sitcom.

Melanie said...

I am a hugger. My husbands family does that kissing thing and it freaks me out. I really don't like it when people I only see once or twice a year kiss me on the cheek. But I'm sort of weird about germs so maybe that's where it comes from.

Effie said...

I was part of a German dance group for a while and one of the families in the group treated every one like family--they kissed all the women hello on the lips--freaked me out! I think a kiss on the cheek to women and a hearty handshake to bro hug is good for the guys--not too close, not too distant...

Anonymous said...

Why not just wear your Donny socks and no one will care whether you hug or kiss. They'll see your socks and chalk it up to "Willamism".

Anonymous said...

Question.
Do you cheat on your wife...?
Answer.
No. But I will lie real still while you do.

crazylovescompany said...

I'm a hugger by trade, but if it's a European friend I'm greeting, or someone I know is a kisser, I anticipate the kiss and return it.

Laura Leigh said...

We always hug. I still hug my boyfriend of 14 years each time I see him.

H said...

I say a hug and a slap on the ass. But I am pretty friendly gal so ya know take it for what it's worth.
;-)

karen said...

I'm not a "touchy-feely" person so I'll give people I don't know that well a handshake. Friends I see often (several times a month) don't get a special greeting but friends I only see a few times a year (or people I knew way back when) get a hug (as well as family, even if I don't know them that well and there a lot of those since hubby has a big extended family).

I don't do the cheek kiss unless I know they come from a region that has that as a custom.

Dawn B said...

I have to admit..as soon as I read your post I though to a clip from Tim and Eric's Awesome Show (if you've never seen it it's insane..and probably created by potheads). Here ya go:

http://snackfeed.com/videos/detail/e3abdc7a-dd60-102b-a525-00304897c9c6/The-Give-And-Take-?_s=s

JP said...

Hugger. Definitely hugger. Japanese are not very touchy feely. We would rather bow from a distance. =)

James Austin said...

Hug the ladies, pat the guys on the back, point a gun finger at them and and give them a nod.

Sheri said...

Dude-that SOOO just happened to me. I went in to greet a client who also happens to be a friend. My bosses were with me. We started with the whole hand shake thing then I realized he was leaning in for the hug and went straight for the cheek kissing.

I'm a hugger - the cheek kissing thing freaks me out a bit.

Circus Kelli said...

Write it on your "Hi My Name Is..." sticker. "Hi, my name is Bill. I'm gonna hug and/or kiss you, deal with it."

Circus Kelli said...

I'm a hugger.

mominmentalmotion said...

I'm a hugger and only kiss family members. I hope you work it out soon and don't face too many awkward moments at your reunion.

12ontheinside said...

I hug and kiss. I suppose I just crave attention.

Anonymous said...

I overheard Lauren last Thansgiving saying something about your little Mahoff.

Anonymous said...

just dont be an ass kisser

10th streeter lover said...

I remember your man hugs and I loved them, the kisses too!

April said...

I go both ways. Um, I mean I am a hugger and kisser. I don't go both ways like you are thinking I go both ways. In that way I only go one way. Oh jeez. This is awkward.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing better than a big, strong hold for a couple of seconds HUG! That's telling someone you're glad to see them! Kiss on the cheek is a duty kinda thing. No real meaning. duty. but a HUG is from the heart! Heart to heart! At my reunion (50 years) from eighth grade, the HUGS were the best from girls and guys. We were so glad to see each other, and know we were all still alive. No one complained of the hugs. I love getting them from the grandkids. Some love to hug, some don't. I'll take what I can get. HUG me! momo9

kalki said...

I'm a hugger. And I've never understood how guys can be so awkward about hugging other guys, but then in sports they pat each others' butts all the time.

I think your new official greeting should be the fist bump. It allows for distance between your bodies but still conveys affection. Plus it's cool. :)

(My word verification is "sheesh.")

Anonymous said...

The festive season is here, so what have you planned for you and your better half this season? While we are on the subject, what is the perfect Xmas gift that one can give his/her lover? Very interesting blog by the way!

madcelebs.blogspot.com

Melanie said...

I wish I had read this before the reunion. Where exactly would rubbing someone's belly, which I was forced to do to Timmy A., fall in this 'pecking' order?

TBG said...

definitely a hugger. Only kiss people I am really close to.