NYTimes: “For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’”

NYT May 27 Story:

There is so much hugging at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, N.J., that students have broken down the hugs by type:
— There is the basic friend hug, probably the most popular, and the bear hug, of course. But now there is also the bear claw, when a boy embraces a girl awkwardly with his elbows poking out.
—There is the hug that starts with a high-five, then moves into a fist bump, followed by a slap on the back and an embrace.

One can guess that youths’ nervous systems are picking up the pitter-patter of day-to-day life effected by the bleakness threatening their dreams, and they want a reassurance that is difficult to describe. However, this kind of NYT anecdotal lifestyle piece overlooks the reality of the hugbug, so to speak: It cuts across generations. Asking for a hug is becoming as common place as people bumming for cigarettes or asking strangers for a light.

In Michael Bay’s 1998 Armageddon – a Bruce Willis flick about him and several others facing down a gigantic mass of galactic death threatening the world – one of the heroes infused with as much testosterone as Willis, Jayotis ‘Bear’ Kurleenbear, played by the muscular Michael Clarke Duncan, asks during a medical exam, “Can I get a hug?” The whiney request occurred as the Bear, confronted with medical questions about his health, was being reminded of his mortality.

And not long ago, in the fall, one of my former students, who has been trying to craft his journalism career and was juggling his latest options before he embarked on a transatlantic flight for business and pleasure, asked, as we were about to head off in different directions from a lunch, “Can I get a hug?”

The hug is here. Or, rather, has been here before the bug bugged Pascack Hills, catching the interest of a NYT reporter.

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