“Oh, I’m a hugger,” she says in her cutesy, affected voice, spreading her arms and tilting her head, while closing the gap created by our personal space.
I raise my outstretched right hand, palm out, and have just enough time to bring up my left hand up as well, halting her advance with a firm block to her shoulders. Shock and affront paint her face, followed by a display of more hurt than could actually have been physically suffered by my denial.
“What the hell, man?”
“I’m sorry, but we’ve only just met and I’m not much of a hugger.”
“Well, you didn’t have to be such a dick about it. I’m just being friendly, you jerk.”
She steps back, setting her stance to convey disapproval.
“Once again, I apologize for your shock, but I don’t much enjoy hugging someone I’ve only just met.”
“Whatever, I’m just trying to be nice and you push me. What are you, some kind of germophobe?”
“No, I just think that hugging is a bit intimate for a first encounter.”
“Yeah right, so you’re, like, autistic or something? You know, you can’t just treat people like that.”
A disdainful sneer disfigured her face and with it, my composure.
“You don’t really know what autism entails, do you? But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m not a hugger and I don’t like hugging someone whose name I’ve only just heard seconds earlier. I don’t appreciate you forcing your habits on me, just because you are a hugger.”
“Look, asshole, I was being nice and you’re being a piece of shit, shoving me back, when all I wanted to do was give you a hug. I mean, seriously, what kind of social reject doesn’t like hugs? And you implying I don’t know what autism is, is totally offensive. I have a nephew with autism and you know nothing about what he has to go through every day.”
“Besides your demonstration that you need to go have a good chat with your nephew’s doctor, you’re failing to understand what is ‘nice’ here. You intended to be nice by doing something I don’t like. You were disregarding me entirely. You think it’s nice to hug upon meeting someone, I do not. I had my hand out to shake yours and you chose to step forward and wrap yourself around me without my consent. If I had the time, I would have told you not to hug me beforehand, but I didn’t. I acted on impulse and stopped you; I did not shove. –“
“Oh, whatever! I –“
“No, no. You have shown you can’t be trusted with words, so you will shut up and let me finish. You tried to engage in physical contact of which I do not approve. And I can see by the look on your face that you still disagree, so let’s consider this: you like to hug. You think it’s nice to be hugged, thus you think it is nice to hug. You know people you like to hug and all think it’s nice, so you label yourself ‘hugger’ and try to bring everyone into your warm embrace. I like to fondle and kiss. I think it’s nice to be fondled and kissed. I know people who like to fondle and kiss and all think it’s nice. Should I then introduce myself saying “Oh, I’m a fondling kisser” and proceed to massage your breasts and lightly bite your lower lip?”
“What the fuck, dude, are you fucking seri-“
“That’s right, the answer is no. I don’t know whether you would enjoy intimate physical contact right off the bat. Maybe you do, but I don’t know. So I keep it safe and extend my hand for a friendly shaking. Do I reach out and grab your hand? No. I wait, hoping you will extend your hand, so our hands can meet in the mutually agreed upon middle. You decide whether you reach out or not, I do not make that decision for you. You need to think about more than what you think is nice when meeting someone.”
A perfect picture of disgust looks me up and down from behind a crossed-arms barrier.
“You can just fuck off, because I’ve got pepperspray and I’m not afraid to use it. You’re not going to touch my breasts no matter how much you want to and I’ve got half a mind to press charges for sexual harassment.”
“Fine. Well you and your half a mind can go hug themselves. Just quit hugging people that don’t want to be hugged.”