Non-Sexual, Non-Threatening Hugs

Note: This is a reflection by Mrs. HijabMan on part 1 of “How I Met My Wife (And Daughter)”

Ask me a couple of years ago for a hug and if you were a guy I’d have said sorry, I don’t hug guys. I’m Muslim. I don’t touch persons of the opposite gender (heck, I really shouldn’t even be looking at you). It breaks your wudu (ablutions). And hugging… HUGGING?!! That would be one step down the slippery slidey slope to zina (fornication). I mean, how can I hug a guy without feelings of lust arising in me (and him), driving us to distraction (and more). (!!!!!)

Oh, the awkward situations that have played out when I tried to get out of a hug-in-progress… There was the time when my big professor heard I was getting married (the 1st time) and promptly came at me with arms wide open. I didn’t want to offend him so stayed rigid as a tree while he gave me a congratulatory squeeze. I have no idea if he realized how uncomfortable I was about that hug. Once I came out of the elevator in my graduate dorm and was greeted by a good friend who I hadn’t seen in a loooong time. As his arms opened wide and he came towards me, I did a kind of un-graceful pirouette under and around his outstretched arms, stumbling over myself to get out of his way. It was so awkward – he didn’t know what was going on, and I apologized profusely, explaining that while I was very happy, really very happy, really I was, to see him, it’s inappropriate for me to hug guys. Then there was my long-time labmate who helped me through Matlab coding issues and presentations and experiments; marriage and baby and divorce and graduation. When I graduated, we just gave each other shrugs and shook hands, though I’d just gone round hugging everyone else in the lab (it just so happened that only the girls were there that day).

Then one day, Hijabman offered me a hug just before he left Singapore for a 24hr trip back to Philly.
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