Aside from all of the pain and suffering, social isolation, and even divisions among family members and broken friendships that COVID-19 has forced upon us, one of the worst things for me has been the lack of physical contact. You see, I’m a hugger.
I’ve always beena tactile person, and as I get older, I never hesitate to hug my children and the people I love. Or even the people I like, for that matter. For the most part, I think people like hugs. Maybe it’s because I’m big and fluffy like a marshmallow, I don’t know. Although occasionally I think some people are taken aback by it, as was an old Army friend of mine we stopped to visit in Montana one time. As we were getting ready to leave and saying our goodbyes, I spontaneously hugged him, and I’m not sure how the old career soldier took that. It’s okay, Robbie. I wasn’t after your body. I just wanted you to know how much I love you.
A while back, I bought a couple of shirts offering free hugs to people from the LBGTQ community, but I’m an equal opportunity hugger. Whether you’re gay or straight, young or old, male or female, if I like you, there’s a good chance I’m going to hug you. Of course, if you don’t want me to, just stick your hand in my face and I’ll back right off. There’s no need for those tasers and the pepper spray.
Years ago, we were visiting the Old Sturbridge Village living history museum in Massachusetts, and as we were walking out to the parking lot to get in our truck, we encountered a group of people gathered together at the curb. It was a family reunion, and a van had pulled up and an elderly gentleman got out of the passenger side. Different people were hugging him and saying, “I’m your great-grandson, Billy,” or “I’m your granddaughter Mary’s daughter,” and things like that. Since we had to negotiate our way through this small crowd of people, I went ahead and hugged grandpa, too. He asked who I was, and I said, “I’m nobody, just a guy passing through who wanted a hug.” Everybody got a big laugh out of that, and grandpa hugged me a second time.
The Escapees RV Club is famous for being huggers. If you’re not familiar with the Escapees, they are probably the biggest and definitely the best RV club in the world. Even though we have hung up the keys, we’re still proud to be lifetime members of the Escapees. When you join, you don’t just join a club, you become part of a gigantic extended family, and it is commonplace for Escapees to hug when they meet up, even if they’ve never met before.
Years ago, we were talking to some people at a campground who were new RVers and new Escapees members, and heard a funny story about that. The woman said that when they were talking about going on the road, somebody asked where they would get fuel for a big motorhome like that, and the husband replied that they could always go to truck stops, and some even have dedicated RV islands. A friend said that they needed to be careful going to truck stops because they have lot lizards who will try to pick guys up there. Being quite naive, this woman didn’t know what a lot lizard was, and the friend had to explain to her that they are prostitutes who make their living working the truck stops.
Fast forward a couple of months later, and they are in their motorhome enjoying their brand new lifestyle, and they pulled into the RV fuel island at a Flying J truck stop someplace. While the husband was pumping diesel into the rig, the wife was washing the windshield. Another motorhome pulled in opposite them, and seeing the Escapees club decal on their window, the woman from the second RV introduced herself to the husband and said they were Escapees, too. The husband from the first couple said that they were brand new and had just joined a couple of weeks before, had had never met any other Escapees up until that point. That’s when the woman from the other motor home said, “Let me give you a big Escapees hug.” While this was going on, the woman telling the story said she came around the side of the RV, windshield squeegee in hand, and saw this woman hugging her husband and yelled, “Get away from my husband, you lot lizard!” I guess it took a while to sort that out, but they all ended up having a good laugh about it.
You just never know what’s going to happen when you start hugging strangers.
Thought For The Day – Sometimes a hug from a friend or loved one is all you need to make your day.