I have a confession. I am not a person who hugs easily.
It’s not that I am against it. I prefer to remain a respectful distance from most people, with children and grandchildren being the exception. Oh, yes, and my mother-in-law.
When company arrives or leaves our home, I stand my ground, smile, wave, nod, and am actually exuding warmth as I see them coming or going. Yes, really, I am.
Rather than giving them a perfunctory or obligatory hug, my preferred form of affection is a one-armed squeeze around the shoulders. That is when I am cutting loose.
I don’t know if this is a guy thing or possibly generational. Growing up, my family, including relatives and friends, were among the nicest, kindest, most loving people I knew. And they did it without touching each other.
Holding back on physical expressions of affection does not mean I don’t care. Quite the contrary, I care about practically everyone I meet, including people I disagree with.
I can disagree with someone without wishing them any ill or considering them less of a person. We just disagree, it’s not personal.
In reality, there is a great chance we agree on most things except for a few items where we do not see eye to eye.
My main form of showing affection is in teasing. The more I like someone, the more teasing they receive.
That was another trait I was exposed to while growing up. My uncles, in particular, teased my sisters, cousins, and me continually about anything and everything.
It always ended with chuckle or a laugh.
The teasing was a verbal poke in the ribs or a wink of the eye. I enjoyed it then and I enjoy it now. Back then, I was on the receiving end and now I both give and receive.
I can think of many groups of men who are talking among themselves about whatever their favorite subjects are from farming to sports and even politics, and I can hear the teasing as they egg each other on about the subject at hand.
That is a show of affection, male-style.
Sometimes my teasing has not been received as affection and the person on the receiving end feels put off by my comments.
That is when I explain that my teasing is a sign of affection and the amount of teasing is proportional to the amount of affection I have for this person.
Actually, they should be more worried about when I quit teasing them.
That would indicate a problem.
So, on those days when my wife and I meet anyone, my wife, who is a hugger, will reach for that person both coming and going, while I will stand a slight distance away, smiling and nodding.
And if you receive a one-armed squeeze around the shoulders from me, rest assured you are getting the equivalent of a whole hearted bear hug from me.
I meet even nod my head towards yours.
That is when I am really cutting loose.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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