The greeting ritual among Americans must be one of those things that emerged from so many different cultures that any common sense is completely lost. This ritual consists of two parts: there’s a high pitch in which participants declare each other’s name, while slowly commencing the second step of the ritual: a hug. Also known as the best disguised way of suffocating someone in an aroma of a day-old, sweaty shirt. Don’t get me wrong. I like some hugs. I like the ones that are comforting and bonding (fun fact: the Dutch word ‘knuffel’ means both stuffed animal and hug) and therefore, I love hugging the people I care about. The people whose sweat and body odors I’d gladly trade for the experience of a real hug.
It’s hugging the people I don’t care about that gives me the creeps. In fact, stranger who insisted on hugging me, you’re making me uncomfortable and are thus using the power of hugs for evil. I know it’s also just me. I’m still applying Dutch hugging rules to Americans who simply don’t know any better. I have tried to impose my own ways on others by introducing three kisses on the cheeks (left, right, left), but this gave way to new problems. When you’re both in the kissing cheeks routine, you both make weird noises around someone’s ears. When it’s just me, things suddenly sound really weird and make me feel very self-conscious. I have given up on changing this, so I’m slowly sinking into the hugging madness. I’ll just have to get over my fear of moistening myself in the armpits of the stranger. I’ll sniff your culture, don’t worry.
What’s the appropriate amount of time before I can try to release myself?