News and Tribune


October 7, 2013

CUMMINS: Have you hugged your congressperson today?


When I was growing up, my mother, grandmothers and my dog were the only people who could hug me. Girls and nasty old men couldn’t. When I entered school, it was also the time to learn to shake hands. Shake his hand like this, Terry. Reluctant Terry thought old people were weird back then. You get germs from hands, but not from hugs if you keep your nose and mouth turned aside. Kissing is OK up to a point. You can kiss an old girlfriend on her cheekbone, and you can kiss the hand of a fair maiden. If you go to France, it’s OK to kiss men on both cheeks, but do it quickly.

There’s a proper  way to shake hands, hug and kiss. Do not shake hands limply. Be strong and firm in all that you do. Who wants to associate with a wimp? But do not break a bone in another wimp’s hand. When you hug, know when to release the person from your tight grip. Do not slide your arms below a woman’s shoulder blades, nor prolong a hug, which could raise legal questions. Caution, expect a slap from an ultra-conservative, don’t-touch-me-person. Caution, avoid hugging ultra-liberals, which can lead to affairs. Kissing anything is risky. It spreads disease and leads to children. Avoid it unless you are a politician, then you should kiss every baby you see, and the backside of lousy-rich, corporate giants.

Various cultures greet people differently, everything from rubbing noses to bowing and tipping a hat. A pat on the back used to indicate, “good job,” but avoid it, because others might consider patting a violation of personal space. Use email to say, “I pat you.” We are a full-fledged hugging society now. Look at the affection expressed in a smash-mouth football game. After a big game where brute players tried to knock brains out, they go down the bloody line hugging each monstrous opponent. It brings tears to your eyes.

A weakness in our society is not what we do with our hands, but the hateful words that come from our mouths. Hugging is an act expressing, I like you. Perhaps the next time Congress considers shutting down the government, they should line up and hug, not choke the evil people across the aisle.

— Contact Terry Cummins at

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