When I was at the MTC, I would anxiously await the arrival of the new missionaries on Wednesday afternoons. In effort to entertain the others in my zone, I would select one missionary that had just dropped his bags off in his dorm. I would then walk over to the boy, welcome him to the MTC and hug the snot out of him. I would then hold the hug for an uncomfortable amount of time. After about 45 excruciating seconds, the missionary would almost always pull away in frustration, thank me for the greeting and fall back in line to travel to his appointed destination. I was never once physically threatened or assaulted. I mean, what where they going to do? They were overwhelmed with being brand new missionaries on their first day.
Now, when someone attempts to hug me, I never quite know how to react. Would a tight squeeze be overkill? Should I stick my butt out to avoid full body contact? How much back patting is appropriate? Do I connect my fingers behind their back? Do I rub the back instead of the usual pat? Which of my acquaintances deserves a rub and which one deserves a pat? Do I avoid facial contact? What if our cheeks rub together on accident? Should I lift them off the ground? Should I lift them off the ground with one arm while patting their back with the other. What if they are extremely tall and I accidentally pat them on the butt?
I have therefore made some ground rules and I have designed the following hugs for the following people:
Wife: Anything goes. (However, back patting your wife is just goofy.)
My Kids: The lift off floor hug is highly effective and should be used daily.
Grandma: A semi-firm hug without patting as I would not want to break her ribs. Cheek kiss is also deemed appropriate.
Male Friend: Butt out, quick release, strong pats to signify brotherhood. Really, just an extended "chest bump".
Female Friend: This is where it gets really tricky. If my wife is not there, please do not hug me. If my wife is there, a hug may be acceptable, depending on the looks of the friend and the closeness of our friendship. For example:
A. You are a decent looking lady and my wife gives the nod of approval, you may have a quick, non full body hug.
B. If you are an ugly monstrosity with facial hair, you may have a longer hug, but definitely no back rubbing. This is what I commonly refer to as the "mercy hug".
C. If you are just an average looking lady - please, no hug.
Boss: Boss dictates everything about the hug. Whatever he or she wants, he or she gets. It is, after all, a very rough economic year.
Father in law: What has worked well for me is the side hug. The side hug consists of standing side by side, interlocking arms while simultaneously back patting each other.
Mother in law: A quick cheek to cheek hug with limited full body contact. Back patting should not be attempted.
Mother: See Grandma
Father: The "male friend" hug but with more contact with the upper body and a longer length of stay.
Business or Work Acquaintance: No body or face contact. Contact should be limited to the shoulder region.
Midget Friend: Provide a stool or chair. Never lift a midget up to hug. Believe me, it will not go well for you.
Friend with no arms: Hug them twice to make up for the missing arms. Do not mention the missing arms.
Monkey: Allow a monkey to swing around on your neck and when it comes to the front of you, grab and hold. It will be an adorable moment you shall cherish forever.
Long lost love: Gain eye contact with the person from a distance and then run in slow motion towards that person. Embrace with everything you've got and hold the embrace while the camera slowly moves around you.
Recently found child that was lost: See above.
Horse: Wrap arms around neck of horse, rest head on horse's side, whisper how much the horse means to you before horse is hauled away to be put to sleep. (Also, this works for dogs.)
** Note, the above 3 posts should only be attempted if you are an actor in a movie.
Porcupine: Place muzzle over mouth, pull out quills one at a time, wipe off excess blood from pulled out quills and tie legs together. Wrap your arms around the entire body of de-quilled porcupine and squeeze.
Paris Hilton: Wrap your arms around her twice, squeeze extra gently as to not break her - use the "Grandma" rule of thumb here.
Dolly Parton: Wear a breastplate for protection.