The Awkward Greeting
Have you ever experienced an awkward greeting with someone you know? It typically happens when you’re not sure if you should go in for the one-cheek kiss, double-cheek kiss, the air kiss, the no-kiss-but-casual hug, or the casual kiss followed by a hug. Whatever you decide to do, my advice: don’t hesitate. Go right in for the kiss or the hug. Otherwise, you may experience the embarrassing side-to-side head bob, ensuring that you and the recipient make complete fools of yourselves.
I remember this happening years ago with me and one of my husband’s relatives. He and I were doing the head-shake dance, but rather than the kiss landing on his cheek, I inadvertently smacked one on his lips. My face lit on fire afterward, as did his. In hindsight, we probably should’ve laughed about it, but instead, we walked away from each other pretending our embarrassing greeting never occurred.
Thanks to the pandemic, greeting our friends and family members with a kiss and hug has been strictly forbidden. Yet that feels weird too, especially when you haven’t seen someone in a long time, and you want to touch them. So you find yourself standing there, feeling out of sorts as your body pulls you toward the person, desperate to reach out, while fighting the urge to remain at an appropriate distance.
What about the person who has been living under a rock for the past year, ignoring the COVID-19 safety measures? That would be the man or woman who wraps their arms around you in an embrace––without your consent––or reaches out and shakes your hand. Afterward, you stand there, frozen and eager to dive head-first into a pool of antibacterial soap.
I would have thought that since these casual, social greetings have been discouraged throughout the pandemic, I would be grateful that I was off the hook for a while and not have to experience the side-to-side head bobbing again. But I’ve come to realize that having been deprived from physical contact with other people (outside of my immediate family) has only made me yearn for it even more.
One day soon, when this pandemic is over, I’m going to take my affection toward others to a whole new level (appropriately, of course). I plan to hug everyone, sometimes with a cheek kiss, sometimes without. Heck, I might even consider standing on a street corner and hugging random strangers.
Human touch is so important. It’s how we show a person that we care about them. It’s a sign of empathy. It’s healthy. It’s good for our hearts. It’s love. When our children are babies and toddlers, we’re always holding them in our arms, in our hands, on our laps, and smothering them with affection.
I remember when I was a teenager, my mother would say to me every once in a while, “Can I have a hug?” I would always give in and let her wrap her arms around me, even though, as a stereotypical teenager, I was usually a bit irritated that I had to stop what I was doing to let her hug me. Now that I’m a parent of teenagers, I get it. Back then, I didn’t realize how important that was to my well-being. It was one of the ways in which my mom showed me how much she loved me.
Maintaining this type of affection with my daughter is easy. At nineteen years old, she still loves to snuggle with me in bed or on the couch to watch a movie. As for my sixteen-year-old son, I have to remind myself to periodically ask for those hugs—even when he thinks I’m being annoying.
Along with putting nutritious foods into our bodies, getting a daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D from the sun, exercising, and laughter, we also need to remember the importance of mental and physical connection. And for those of you who, like me, have experienced a few awkward greetings in your lifetime and are still a bit self-conscious about it, let it go––because as soon we’re all feeling safe from catching COVID-19, follow my lead and jump right in for that social hug or kiss—and just be grateful that you finally can.