I just don't find it pleasant. I don't want to get close enough to you so I could guess your brand of deodorant or discover you like breath mints. Or need breath mints. It's not homophobia. All right, it is, a little. Ironically, though, I always hug gay men, if it's obvious they want a hug. It's too awkward if you don't.
I don't like hugging people unless they happen to be women to whom I feel attracted and I can at least fantasize that the hug is a prelude to sex. There, I've said it. In the interest of fairness, I should say there are plenty of women I don't want to hug, even though I could hug them without any possible same-sex erotic hint being attached. Generally speaking, I don't want to hug anybody customarily addressed as Auntie. Or Oprah, although I would hug her if she had me on one of her specials, and insisted on it. Or Sinead O'Conner.
And ladies, no air kisses! The driest, most perfunctory peck on either or both of my cheeks is acceptable, but going mwahh! mwahh! in the general direction of my ears reeks of insincerity. I have probably already guessed you are insincere about your embrace of me. Don't rub it in.
But I digress. Back to you, old buddy whose name I can't quite remember, standing there with your elbows wide in the hug-threat position. Fortunately, I have positioned my beverage between us. It's full, frothy and cold. It would look lousy and smell worse if we spilled it all over our clothes. You hesitate. That's the way I planned it.
You can shake my hand. Even if we haven't seen each other in twenty years, it's fine. Go ahead. There's probably a reason I haven't looked you up in twenty years. No sense both of us figuring out what it is, or was, by attempting to get closer.
No handshake? Too mid-last-century white male for you? All right, we can fist bump. Just warn me you are coming at me with a fist bump. Don't proffer your hand and then close it into a fist, leaving me holding my fingers gaping open like the loser in a game of rock, paper, scissors. I don't like that.
And we are not high-fiving! We haven't won anything. But in the event we need to high five in the future, like if the team we like in the game we are watching in this bar where we have run into each other does something good, keep in mind to hold your hand upright and still so I can hit it with a clean smack. Just flailing at the air and hoping we connect seldom works for me. And the one where you do a little half-turn and jump before you high-five is for basketball players, not us. They practice. We don't.
Ahh, you settle for the handshake. Very good. So how you been? Still married? No? Too bad. Oh, not so bad, you say? I know how you feel…