Tag Archives: on life

I Don’t Want to Hug You

I never meant for this to happen.

This past New Year’s Eve I made a mistake. I established myself as “a hugger” – the person who gives complete strangers hugs in greeting.

The way I see it, there are 5 Levels of Stranger-ness (at Parties):

1.   Randy:  This Stranger is a total stranger.  He probably wants to make out with you and/or your friends…and/or the lampost.  Who is he?  It doesn’t matter!  You won’t learn his name because you’ll be calling him by his Code Name for the rest of the night.  Code Names are often derived from identifiable features, including, but not limited to:  “Lady Hair,”  “Captain Blackbeard,” “Facial Tat” and “Chlamydia.”

2.  L’Etranger:  The Foreign Stranger.  No one knows this person.  You can’t even figure out how he got invited to the party.  Frequently, he is a random French dude (always french) who your friend’s friend met six years ago on their two-week life-changing “study abroad” adventure.  He doesn’t speak – presumably because he doesn’t understand Slur (drunk English) – which makes him seem mysterious.  You can safely assume that he spends more time contemplating the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life than you do.  This party is probably just another vapid gathering of nothings in his existential existence.  He looks like maybe he killed someone.  You just don’t know.  But, does it even matter?

3. Future Ex-Boyfriend:  They say when you know, you know…that he’s going to be your ex-boyfriend one day!

Me: He’s cute!  He looks like he’s going to make me MISERABLE.

Melanie:  Yes.  He seems “nice.”  You might, maybe, want to consider avoiding?

Me:  And steer clear of my type?  Never.  Not while there are RED FLAGS EVERYWHERE!  Silly.

4. Your New Best Friend: When you look into this Stranger’s eyes for the first time, a wave of acceptance that you will be friends one day washes over you.  It’s Friendlove at first sight, and it is real.   Often, you can just outright tell these people that you want to be friends with them, like you did in Kindergarten:

A snippet of an actual conversation I had last Saturday:


Girl: Okay! Me too!

5. Actual Ex-Boyfriend:  This is awkward.  This Stranger is technically not a stranger.  You actually knew them pretty well one time, but hey, the past is the past.  Now, they’re relegated to a subcategory of Stranger.  And you’d like to keep it that way!

Him: Hey.  How are you?  You look really pretty.

Me:  I know.  I would literally rather be in that booby-trapped room in the Temple of Doom with walls that move in to slowly crush me to death than be in this situation right now.  Soooooooooo nice to see you!  Hope you’re good.

6. Ozzy Osmosis:  You basically know this stranger because everyone you know knows them.  Sometimes, Ozzy is your friend’s sibling.  Sometimes, Oz is the friend-of-friends who is living somewhere abroad (NOT to be confused with L’Etranger over there in the corner.)  And sometimes, but only sometimes, is Ozzy The Unicorn Friend: that friend from college whose whereabouts are generally unknown; you’ve been told before that s/he only emerges a few times a year, if s/he even has cell phone coverage again.  The point is:  you know who they are and they know who you  are.  You know they know who you are, and they know that you know that they know that you know… who they are.

And so it was, that in the hours before 2014, a rather delicate situation arose:  I was faced with meeting and greeting an Ozzy and a Randy at the same time.

Greetings are the worst part of meeting Strangers.  They are a hotbed for awkwardness because they require you to read the comfort level and appropriateness of the situation.  Usually, I am quite good at this, but occasionally, I slip up.

ASIDE: It is for this reason that my dream of being on a talk show is also my greatest fear.  I know that when that day inevitably comes and David Letterman greets me on stage, I will go in for a hug while he goes in for a handshake.  I will probably go to kiss the same cheek he kisses, too, causing both of us to do the awkward chicken-bob head dodge to avoid kissing each other on the lips.  I’ve thought about this moment a lot.

On this night, the part of Ozzy was played by the brother of two of my friends.  I had been hearing about him for two years and he had never surfaced.  I was beginning to doubt his existence.  Naturally, upon greeting him, I gave him a hug and said “So nice to finally meet you!” (or some shit like that.)  I don’t think he knew who I was.  Boys don’t pay attention to anything, though, so whatever!

Unfortunately, I chose to hug him almost immediately before I stuck my hand out to greet Randy, who stood waiting next to him.  I watched, with awkward horror, as Randy’s look of expectancy turned to Kind-Of-Sad-Confusion.

Randy looked down at my hand.

I smiled.

He opened his arms and stared at me.

I hesitated.  My extended hand involuntarily retracting.

“What? No hug for me?” Randy said.

So, I gave in.  I did. I hugged him and I thought:

I am the most awkward person on the planet! I am so mean for not going to hug you right away!

But not really, because hugging you is so awkward because I REALLY DO NOT KNOW YOU!

Who are you?

Why do you have the same haircut as Jennifer Lawrence?

Did you just say your name?  I wasn’t listening.  I’m going to call you Lady Hair for the rest of the night.

And I did.

That’s the story of how I became a hugger.




Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Twenty Four is a great number. I like it not only because it is a nice even number, but because two times two is four. If you don’t understand that statement immediately I can’t explain it for you. When I turned twenty-four, I was pretty excited because, as I say, it’s a nice number. Way nicer than twenty-three.

Twenty Three was lame. My first “real” boyfriend broke up with me about six months into my twenty-third year. I say “real” as opposed to “fake” because he actually wanted to waste my time AND refer to me as his girlfriend to other humans, so this was really a step up for me. I assure you that every “fake” boyfriend I have ever had has been a real person who was aware of the fact that they were “dating” me. “Fake” boyfriends freak out when the words girl and friend are mashed together in a sentence in order convey that he “likes” you.

My twenty-third year for other people went well, so it was, at least, exciting. We had some big family changes. My brother got married a month after turning twenty-five, which obviously sent me into a tailspin of inner panic. When the people you grew up with from the womb start getting married and you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up or why boys are stupid, several questions tend to incessantly plague your mind. So, your mind starts sounding like this:

Me: But really, is there ACTUALLY something wrong with me?
Also Me: Probably, you are really weird.

Me: What am I doing with my life? Should I go to grad school? Should I run away to Europe…again?
Still Me: Euagggghhhhh. Too. much. deep. question… Let’s watch Dr. Who.

Me: Hey, this new guy seems to genuinely like me as a person.
Me: Nononono. There must be something wrong with him. What about that guy?
Me: Oh, that guy who texted me “How are you?”? My response was well-crafted. A short, but sweet “Hey 🙂 Good. How are you?” He ignored me.
Me: Yessss. Good. Him.

Me: More wine?
Me: No………………………..Yes.

Welcome to my brain. It’s a weird place. But it’s also kind of funny sometimes. I kind of like my little brain. I like that it decides to like things on fairly random criteria: the number Twenty Four, for example. I’m not sure, but I think I’ll keep it. And here-in lies the problem. What do you do when you like yourself, but the world around you tells you that you don’t have your life right yet? As if you didn’t know.

Well, if you’re me, you freak out, which looks a lot like not doing anything. And a lot like pushing people away. And a lot like bone-crushing anxiety.

So at Twenty Four, I moved back in with my parents. I realize how lucky I was that I could do this. After almost seven years of living in New York City, I moved home, I got a full-time job I actually like, and I still have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on.

On moving back home, some of the pressure I felt to be a “real” grown-up dissipated. Some new pressures arose, however, from not being on my own anymore. Like this:

Parent: Where are you going? What are you doing? Who with?
Me: Out. Not sure. Melanie. She is my only friend here, remember?
Parent: True. What time will you be home?
Me: Stop.
Parent: Don’t drink and drive.
Me: I am getting picked up.
Parent: Don’t drink and drive.
Me: What? I just said I’m not driv-
Parent: Don’t dr-
(I walk away)

Parent: Clean your room.
Me: This is organized clutter.
Parent: It’s being too lazy to put things in drawers.
Me: Yes, yes it is.

Living with your parents automatically makes you a grumpy teenager again. Even when you get along with your family like I do. When I was little and played house in the same room I sit in writing this, I thought I’d have had five boyfriends by the time I was sixteen. When I was eighteen and left for college I thought I’d have my career figured out by twenty-one. When I was twenty-one, I thought I’d be in a long-term relationship by now and be engaged by twenty-six. Because that’s what everyone else’s life looked like.

At some point over the past four months I finally decided to stop comparing myself to everyone else and once I did, I realized like 95% of the people my age have no idea what the fuck they’re doing either.

I’ve begun to wonder whether I’ll ever know what I’m doing and I’m kind of okay with that. I don’t need to have a ring on my finger. In fact, the thought gives me a feeling of claustrophobic panic… similar to being buried alive but, like, nicer. And I don’t need to know what I want to be when I grow up yet. Actively working on it is enough. Because I’m ONLY Twenty Four.