I’ve been thinking a lot about the awkward hug lately. My most recent was Monday night, at a volunteer appreciation event, and it contained all the key elements:
1) I was significantly taller than her. There are two options when this happens: I can either crouch down with bow-legs so that our shoulders are about at the right height, or I can stay my normal size and her face will end up in my boobs. I generally opt for the bow-legs, because then I’m the one feeling most awkward. (Although it hasn’t happened to me, I imagine the boob-face is pretty bad for people.)
2) I don’t really know this person all too well. I see her every week, sure, but my job is outside and hers is inside. While she’s the staffer I interact with most (and she used to be a volunteer with my gig herself), I don’t know much about her besides the fact she is in school. I don’t even know where she lives in the Cities. While I don’t mind giving near-strangers hugs, I didn’t realize we were at that point where a hug was appropriate.
3) Having settled on the bow-legged option above, I ran into the third worst part of an awkward hug: When you don’t know it’s coming and you end up at an angle. She was fully committed to the hug, and was facing me with squared shoulders. I was in the middle of turning away, so I was crooked, putting my shoulder to her clavicle. Like some sort of 45 degree part of a triangle.
I’m usually the victim of an awkward hug; I tend not to initiate them. But I still like them. At the end I think, “Wow! This person really made the effort to give me a hug, even though it was probably going to be awkward!” So I like them, even if they end up going wrong for one, or all three, reasons.