6. Hugs, The Handshake of the South

17 Nov

Try a European-style cheek kiss on a Southerner, and you’re liable to get yourself slapped. Much like the word “aloha,” hugs have dual meanings. Hug hello. Hug goodbye. And if you do something nice for a Southerner, they will jump up and “hug your neck.” Don’t worry, they don’t actually hug your neck (which could be confused with, uh, strangling). It’s just an expression.

Now in a business setting, the handshake is standard. Please don’t go hugging clients or potential employers. But if you’re meeting a relative or even a friend-of-a-friend, you may quickly find yourself in a spontaneous embrace. This does not mean they like-like you. Heck, they might not even like you at all. But they will hug you all the same.

If you’re of the frostier, non touchy-feely persuasion, don’t call attention to yourself by trying to avoid the hug. Just close your eyes and think of England. It will be over soon. Of course, you’ll want to slip away from the gathering unnoticed to avoid further friendly fondling. Then again, you might learn to like it.

Are you a hugger? How long do you have to know somebody before a hug seems appropriate?

One Response to “6. Hugs, The Handshake of the South”


  1. 89. Dinner on the Ground « stuff southern people like - March 24, 2011

    […] them lavishly, and ask for the recipe. Don’t be surprised if you’re swept up in a spontaneous hug. Many Southerners equate food with love, so if you love what they cook, they’re sure to love you […]

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