Welcome to my soapbox. Here you can typically expect to find my various and sundry diatribes, vituperations and general jawing on whatever it is that's on my mind at the time that I decide to post - you know, typical, self-indulgent blogging for the sake of externalizing what was previously a perfectly content internal monologue and putting it on the page for all the world to see. Again, welcome. Thanks, The Management

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lono's Eye On America: The Man-Hug

With love spreading like wildfire in and around America, the resurgence of the "man-hug" should come as no surprise. Perhaps you've seen, perpetrated or pondered this physical salutation. Or perhaps not. For the latter, let's take a closer look.

There are so many derivatives of this popular shake-twist-pull-pat that it's become difficult, at times, to differentiate between the "man-hug" and good, old fashioned socially awkward man-to-man heavy petting. In the interest of simplicity, let's first examine what I believe to be the locus: start with a handshake, lead into a 90-degree hand twist into thumb-lock, mutual pull to align forearms and chest, and finish off with left fist to right shoulder-blade. Simple and versatile enough to use in a greeting or departure. It should be noted that the finishing "pat" can be varied by opening the hand, or even adding a second tap for good measure. It should further be noted that more corpulent users of the man-hug may add an unavoidable belly bump.

Previously seen only amongst athletes and hip-hop stars (oh, and Justin Timberlake), the man-hug has become firmly entrenched in the culture of everyday Americans. As it grows in popularity, however, we must examine how and when this ultimate mano-a-mano salutation is utilized most effectively.

Greetings between old friends are a no-brainer man-hug situation. In recent months, however, I've noticed a much wider sphere: seldom-seen neighbors, friends-of-friends, bartenders, bouncers, even the occasional homeless-to-homeless shake>twist>pull>pat (necessarily in that order).

Let's take a look at a classic example of when one should employ the man-hug:

Man #1 (spots Man #2, an old acquaintance he hasn't seen in a couple of years, no more than a block away): "Walter? Holy shit, Dog, I haven't seen you in moons. What's up?"

Man #2 (moves briskly toward Man #1): "You said it, Holmes! How you been?"

(Men #s 1 & 2 extend hands, a la prototype handshake, but quickly execute quarter-turn/thumb-lock and left-hand reach-around for the back-pat finisher. Man #1 goes with the open-hand pat. Man #2 offers a fist and two taps. Both are equally appropriate with neither upstaging the other.)

Of course, every situation has an antithesis: when the man-hug is inappropriate:

Man #1 (stopped, sitting in his car)

Police Officer (on his loudspeaker with gun drawn, parked directly behind Man #1): "Slowly step out of the vehicle with your hands on your head."

Man #1 (moves quickly toward officer with hand extended, prepared to engage in man-hug): "No problem, Officer. I's cool."

Officer (takes quick evasive action, breaks hand and forearm before wrestling Man #1 to the ground, eventually handcuffing him): "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

At this point, the man-hug neophyte may be asking himself what exactly went wrong here. In times such as these, when something like the man-hug reaches such prevalence in social interaction, a large segment of Americans are unable to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate operation of a powerful move or comment. This example brings up an important issue that is often lost on the average American Joe: never approach a gun-wielding man with the intention of issuing a man-hug (*Note: knives, blunt objects, crow-bars and whips are also considered "don'ts"). There are, of course, a few other man-hug no-no's, but for the average American, those situations are obvious and present few, if any, tricky signals to derail the successful use of a strong bond.

So, now, go on, man-hug yourself silly and see the new friends you make, old friendships rekindled, free drinks you receive, and who knows, maybe you'll even find a way to man-hug a solution to the homeless problem.

You can't see it, but I'm throwing out a great big virtual man-hug right now to all of you...and I'm slightly aroused.


Anonymous Reed said...

unavoidable belly bump back at you bro...great entry!

11:15 AM


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