Silver Lining

If anything good has come out of the Chinkvirus pandemic, it’s this:

A comprehensive study of behaviours and attitudes since the outbreak began found that three in five people will stop greeting friends with a hug and a kiss, and will also avoid crowded places in the future.

Include me in that number, although I hardly ever did it anyway.  This modern thing of men hugging other men who are not family has always given me the heebies.  I hug my son — and not even that often — and occasionally my friend Trevor (who insists on doing it because he knows it bugs me, and I don’t kill him because he’s my friend).  Other than that, ugh.

I don’t mind shaking hands, however, because I was brought up to do that with men, further affection being communicated by a punch or slap on the shoulder.

But not with women.  Unless it’s a business thing, I’m always tempted to turn a handshake with a woman into kissing her hand;  mostly, it’s greeted with giggles and sighs.  If I add, “Sorry, but I was brought up to love and respect women,” the response is universally positive.  Hugging is too intimate;  kissing a hand denotes respect.

As for hugging and kissing women I know… well, I’m never going to stop doing that.  (At the doctor’s the other day, I complained to his nurse practitioner — whom I’ve known for over fifteen years — that I wasn’t going to molest her as I usually do when I visit.  She shook her head sadly and said, “And I always look so forward to it, too.”  Aaah, Texas.)

Ultimately, though, I think that for the next few years we as a society are going to be more comfortable about keeping other people — and certainly strangers — at arm’s length, so to speak.  And that’s a Good Thing.  But as time passes, we’ll forget all about pandemic behavior and relapse into over-familiarity, which isn’t.


  1. There is a perfectly good greeting for social distancing and that is the Middle-Eastern one where you touch your heart.
    Personally, I like Rees=Mogg’s suggestion of returning to bows and curtsies, but because it is he who suggested it, it will never happen.

    But I’m partial to a hug. Especially from a pretty lady.

  2. Different cultures are, well, different about how affectionate greetings are, and of course America being a conglomeration of different cultures we run into “ick” mode with some frequency (especially if, like me, you’re not from an overly demonstrative culture). My parents were of Norwegian extraction (sort-of, long story), so I can probably count the number of times I hugged and or kissed (in the cheek) my father from the time I was 12 until he died when I was 25 on the fingers of one hand. I grew up in a neighborhood which was mostly southern-Italian extraction, where grown men kiss their fathers on the mouth.

    The biggest cringe I ever had was at an old watering hole where a guy I knew a little (from that place) came in with his girlfriend (who I knew less well, and only thru him). Shake hands with Johnny, and Christie comes at me with arms open (OK, she wants a hug), as she comes in she turns her face toward me (OK, kiss on the cheek, I adjust), then she turns her face full toward me, kisses me full on the mouth, and sticks her tongue in my mouth. In front of her boyfriend.

  3. Never been a big fan of all that stylish touchy-feeling stuff and avoided it as much as possible. Cept with my wife. Even after 36 years together I never miss an opportunity to grab a handful. Having been an architect and engineer for a majority of my life I have shaken a lot of hands and learned things about people’s personalities (mostly men as womens handshake are non-deciphering for the most part). A man with a firm, strong handshake that is timed just right indicates a trustworthy person, a man of his word.

    My (grown) son and I almost hugged a few years ago as a Seinfeld joke thing, and backed away from each other laughing. Other men? I don’t think so. The couple times a man presented himself to hug me I forthrightly and jokingly rejected it outright, moving to the side and saying, “I’m not into all that hugging shit, thanks just the same, ha ha ha.” Seriously, it makes you wonder when a dood wants to hug another dood.

  4. Some years ago, I hugged a man I didn’t like very much, when he told me that his eldest son had been stabbed to death the night before.

    1. There are always exceptions to the “no hugging” rule.

      That’s one of them.

  5. Unless I ever get back into martial arts (not likely with my back, knees and neuropathy) I will not be bowing to anyone, except sarcastically or humorously. Too many connotations of social dominance and submission. As an American, the days of bowing ended in 1776.

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