Summer is often portrayed as a time of family, friends, joy, weddings, barbecues, picnics, sunshine,  liquid spirits plus great food. But no one ever mentions that social gatherings can still include those pesky hugger-muggers. How can I explain my problem with hugger-muggers except to say, “I’m a hugger-mugger magnet?”

Don’t get me wrong. I like hugs and depending on who the “hugger” is, I give back good ones too. But, I only like to exchange hugs with people I know—Hubby, close friends and close relatives. My friend Rachel’s cousin, three times removed, doesn’t count as a close friend even though he is tall, tan and hunky. Marsh is a California life-guard half the time and a night-club bouncer the rest of the time. AND, he is definitely a hugger-mugger.

Hugger-muggers should be labeled as weapons of mass destruction. Seriously, these people should come with a warning tag as they can destroy a social gathering with their exuberant hugs. Marsh’s best friend, Tack—yep, that’s the name he responds to—is Marsh’s physical opposite. Tack is short, slightly rounded and cuddly; a lethal sort of cuddly. As the “hugger,” Tack gives a politically correct and inoffensive hug. Tack, the hugger, then passes along the “huggee” to Marsh, who stands beside him and gives hugs as only hugger-muggers do.

Not all hugger-muggers are alike. Some are grabbers who call it the seasonal salutation. Others are sneaky huggers who come up behind you, profess to know you, then hug and run behind another potential huggee.  At Christmas, these sneak-and-run huggers usually have a sprig of mistletoe handy to use as their excuse.

I don’t attend too many social gatherings but this occasion was the 60th wedding anniversary for former neighbors and good friends. I had Hubby and my visiting cousin, Rick, a certified accountant who looked like a 7-ft. linebacker. Tack and Marsh were there too.

“Hey, there’s a familiar face!” Marsh’s voice came from behind me.

“Hi Marsh,” I replied ducking behind my cousin just as Marsh reached to give me a hug and inadvertently grabbing Rick’s arm.

“Sorry,” Rick growled, “I don’t hug guys.”  Marsh looked up at Rick’s stern face and backed up, stepping on Tack. Tack was about to say something, took one look at “mountain-man” Rick and hastily backed away as well.

Needless to say, Rick was a popular man. The party was a huge success, enjoyable and fun. It was even better when two hugger-muggers left early.  On the way home, Rick commented, “That was a fun party despite the fact that I didn’t know anyone there except for you two. What’s with those two guys we met at the beginning? They didn’t stay long. I thought Marsh and I might have something in common.”

“Rick, you have nothing in common with Marsh except maybe to do his taxes,”  I replied, smiling at the memory of Marsh’s face when he encountered my gentle giant of a cousin.


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