So it pains me to admit this about myself. I have never been geeky or awkward or in over my head when it comes to social experiences. I like to consider myself to be closer to the James Bond than Steve Urkel. But there are indeed certain aspects of my life where I can come off as slightly…..awkward. Even to say this about myself gives me a weird chill, as I sip my Dos Equis, loosen my perfectly tied Bow Tie, unbutton my Tuxedo jacket and turn down my John Coltrane to a low shallow hum……. But as a gentleman who believes in challenging yourself to be better I want to admit to all of you that I have some things that bring out the most awkward moments of tension for me. Of course as I have said many times before, the idea of telling a woman that I do not like her creates more tension for me than meeting the Gooch in the parking lot after school. For a guy with a pretty slick mouth piece I suddenly turn into a tongue-tied Charles Barkley when faced with the thought. Then of course there is the totally uncool reaction that I have to seeing blood. I get slightly weak-kneed and even more light-headed when I see a lot of blood. Needless to say I am not looking forward to one day having to be in the delivery room with a wife. But the most common example of my awkwardness is the one that has been most recently been brought to my attention. And despite my best attempts to duck the accusations, the reality of the situation stares me right in my face. ****Deep Exhale***** My name is Jackson Bracey, and I am an awkward hugger.

I never really saw myself as being and awkward hugger until I had two women call me out about it in the span of a week. I literally didn’t understand how you could even be an awkward hugger until I stopped to think about what sorts of emotions or intentions we convey with our hugs. Clearly I do not hug the woman I am dating the same way that I hug my mother. I hug my mother with love and affection, but very little passion or intensity. As is to be expected in most non-incestuous dynamics. But when I am dating a woman seriously I hug her closely and tightly so that she not only can hear my affection through the words that I say but also feel my affection through the body contact that a warm embrace can bring. Trust me when I tell you that people a well placed hug can tell a woman Everything that she needs to know about how passionately you feel about her. But while I can cover the bases on hugs for a girlfriend or my mother, what do I do with all the women in between? The Friends, the Co-Workers, Elders at church, the lady who I randomly stop to change her tire, UNDERAGED GIRLS…..what do I do with these women? This is where the awkwardness comes in.

So there are a couple of things that I have learned about the awkwardness of my hugs. I have become very cognizant about what sort of message my hugs give off to women who I am just friend with. Since we know how intense an emotion can be conveyed when you hold someone close, you never want to hold a women TOO close. I try not to give off the sexy man vibes to women who I am friends with. But sometimes it can be so difficult to avoid. As illustrated in the above video, black women hug with a ferocious love and affection. And it can be seen as a diss if you don’t properly reciprocate. I can’t give a grandmother hug to a woman who is in my age group. And I have definitely been chastised on more than one occasion for giving a woman the hand pat on the back when I hug. Somehow this is received much differently than the all important circular back rub. But probably the most important key in giving the proper hug is the power of the embrace. Women like to be embraced forcefully but not to the degree that causes them to lose their breath. But understandably they mean mug you if you give the sort of light embrace that makes them think you are not welcoming of said hug. So ultimately for me I have tried to establish a few guidelines around my hugs to make me a bit less awkward but at the same time keep me from grinding a woman or feeling like she is grinding me.

Rule #1
If at all possible, initiate the hug from a side position that puts her under your arm first. This usually allows a woman to wrap both her arms around your mid section without any personal body parts rubbing up against each other.  Always effective!

Rule #2
When faced with a full frontal hug avoid any bodily contact below the rib cage. It is wildly inappropriate to rub pelvis’s together with women you are not involved with. It screams of the do me vibe and you have to be careful about giving that off to women in today’s climate when they suspect all me are trying to do them anyway.

Rule #3
Always place arms around the upper chest or shoulders. This is important. It allows people to be brought in closely to embrace without feeling we have to be right in front of each other. I have given a many hugs from across a church pew, table corner, or from a seated position because I was pulling them near from the upper half of their body. The alternative that you want to stay away from is grabbing people at the waist! Pulling someone close at the waist screams sexual advance. It forces private regions together. You see this all the time with young kids around the hormonal high school age. They LOVE to grab each other at the waist to make sure that their entire body is mashed against someone. And this is not necessarily a bad thing if you are hugging someone you have some serious interest in. Because we have all seen people who are getting it in and observed how they mash against each other when they hug. Full body press… Starting from the legs to the knees, slightly pausing as their mid sections meet. And because they are holding each other at the waist the get to stare into each others eyes right before she presses her breast against him and their faces meet! Sound dramatic I know. But just today I had a friend confirm for me that she does like to press her boobs against a man she is flirting with for a hug! And I certainly can’t knock her because guys are typically itching for that sort of cheap feel from women anyway.

**** As a side note I once was leaving a job to take another position and my team took me to lunch. So as is customary people say how much they appreciate you and give you a small cake and then you go back to work to finish out the rest of your last day. Well upon my departure my team lead was the last to say good bye and she, like the rest of the team, extended to give me a hug. But as I leaned over at the waist to embrace her at the shoulders….SHE GRABBED MY WAIST and totally thrust her waist next to mine! This old lady blatantly tried to accost me by grinding me in her office. And for a super awkward 2.7 seconds she sort of stared at me as she slowly leaned in with the rest of her body and squeezed me tight. My body got super tense and I gave her the short alligator arms pat on the back because at that point as she was forcing the action I tried to cool her heels by not totally reciprocating the intensity. So I walked out of there totally grossed out with a parting memory that has scarred me as an awkward hugger****

Now as I have explained my awkward hugging I think it necessary to sort of explain where the whole thing stems from. I was not unloved as a child or touched in the showers at camp or anything salacious that would explain my apprehension with hugs. But I was at one point in my life a high school English teacher. And that can be an environment where the wrong impression given through a hug can lead to accusations that could change a man’s life! We all remember high school and the excessive hugging that goes on every time you pass someone in the hall way. Well that can be extended to teachers as well. At least to Cool Ones! (totally describes me! the cool teacher) But being one of the younger teachers I understood early on that these hormonal young girls who are prone to crushing on a younger teacher are getting their cheap feels off by pressing their newly formed boobs on me! So I put a stop to that real quick! And it just made me more aware of what sort of messages are being sent with that type of physical contact.

So they say the first step of rehabilitation is admitting that you have a problem which I did in the opening paragraph. Then you have to seek out the root of your problem which I just explained with my former teaching experience. And now…in the final phase I must diligently work to correcting my behavior. So I guess that means that Jackson Bracey is accepting all hugs of a friendly to borderline sexual nature! Please be patient with me as I am a recovering Awkward Hugger.  Someone find this girl below and tell her I need some practice.