Don’t hug me, bro!

21Jan11

Friday, January 21, 2011 is National Hugging Day. Participation is not mandatory, despite the dawning of our nation’s new Era of Civility.
Free Hugs on the Mall
I will not be observing National Hugging Day. Partly by design and partly by default, I am not a hugger – not of people and most certainly not of trees. In this I appear to be in the minority. We live in a hugging society. People hug at the drop of a hat. It’s why I stopped wearing hats.

I’m speaking primarily of social hugging. It has become epidemic. The “hello hug” has become almost de rigueur in some settings. I avoid those settings.

I’m not anti-hugging. Some of my best friends are huggers. What consenting adults do is none of my business.

National Hugging Day is the brainchild of Kevin C. Zaborney of Caro, Michigan. The “holiday” has a web site, as does every passing thought of anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. The web site says that on Friday the “Most Huggable People” of the year will be announced. If you were thinking of nominating me, I regret to inform you that nominations were closed on January 10. But there’s always next year.

The web site advises us to “consider hugging as non-sexual, like a handshake or a high five.” Well, if they’re going to take the sex out of it, they’ve really lost me.
Hugs
In recent years, hugging has become a huge fad among teens. High school and especially middle school students could be seen in school hallways between classes hugging everyone they knew as if they hadn’t seen them in years. The kids claim it’s not sexual. Maybe it’s overcompensation for the lack of face to face contact in the era of online communication.

National Hugging Day comes just in time to usher in our new Era of Civility. As a symbolic gesture, Republicans and Democrats will sit together instead of separately (as is traditional) when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Jan. 25 before a joint session of Congress. Look for plenty of hugs.

Here in Wakefield, MA, Tuesday evening’s meeting to discuss the controversial oversized utility poles at the head of Lake Quannapowitt was reportedly cordial and productive – a virtual hug fest compared to some of the rather heated public comments over the past few weeks. If only we could muster the same positive energy to enforce an existing town bylaw and move the growing number of hot dog stands before the head of the Lake turns into Revere Beach.
Utility Pole
Those who opposed the poles claimed to be concerned about the first thing people see as they enter this “gateway” to Wakefield. Well, first it was one hot dog vendor five days a week for a few months of the year. Now that we’re up to two vendors just a few feet from Col. Connelly Park and we’re looking at a three-season operation with both stands there as late as December last year, does anyone really think this will be the end?

If we can move two monolithic utility poles that are planted firmly in the ground, surely we can move two hot dog stands that come conveniently equipped with wheels.

Now, group hug everybody?

[This column originally appeared in the January 20, 2011 Wakefield Daily Item.]

(Photo credits: top photo, George Brett; middle photo, Kenneth B. Moore; bottom photo, Mark Sardella.)

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One Response to “Don’t hug me, bro!”

  1. 1 Richard Honan

    Mark, I’m with you, too many hugs. And what’s with guys hugging each other? A firm handshake and a hello is fine for me. Well, be good and give your brother a hug for me!


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