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)
Man #2 (moves briskly toward Man #1)
(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)
Man #1 (moves quickly toward officer with hand extended, prepared to engage in man-hug):
Officer (takes quick evasive action, breaks hand and forearm before wrestling Man #1 to the ground, eventually handcuffing him)
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.