Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Drugs Not Hugs

I was at Barnes & Noble leafing through a book when it happened. It was so quick, I barely had time to react. As he was coming for me, barrelling down like a heat-seeking missile, I glanced up and noted a couple details: he was handsome, he was in good shape, and . . . he looked exactly like that famous gay advice columnist who's published in all those newspapers. His arms wrapped around me as sheer bliss over took his face, mere inches from mine, and he squeezed and beamed and . . . left. Without a word. He just casually walked off, like nothing had happened, straight out the front door.

Naturally, I was left a nervous wreck.

You'd think somebody who deals in gay psychology would know better. When one is hugged by somebody who is very nearly a health-care professional, questions are raised in one's mind. Did I look like I needed affection? Worse, did he think I needed serious help, but since he was in a hurry he'd just slap a band-aid onto the wound? Or did he want a quick feel but was too polite to head straight downstairs?

I don't get the attraction. I'm not one of those people you look at and think, Gosh, I'd sure love to hug him. I'm tall and skinny, not one of those people you fall into like an overstuffed couch. I'm so angular and bony that if you rubbed up against me you'd stand a strong chance of suffering a paper cut.

Frankly, I've never had the urge to hug anyone. Most New Yorkers, in fact, would benefit from increased distance, rather than closing in until contact is made. I made the mistake of returning my friend Steven's hug when leaving his house last week when, placing my hands around his waist, I discovered more gooey rolls than you'd find at Cinnabon. Now I won't be able to look him in the eye again, though on the plus side I've confirmed that black t-shirts really do work wonders.

I blame my mom for my anxiety here. Every time I saw her after I moved away from home she'd greet me with a stomach-churning squeeze. "Hugs not drugs!" was her motto, but I remained skeptical. I'd lived in San Francisco, so I knew it for a fact: the withered arms of an old lady couldn't compete with the discoveries of modern pharmacology. Besides, it was pretty clear she was the one in need of affection, not me, since being reasonably attractive I spent 80% of my life pressed up against another man.

And so, when somebody says I need a hug, I feel insulted. If they were truly interested in my well-being, they'd offer me a plasma-screen TV, or a spacious apartment. They wouldn't say I needed a minuscule amount of physical affection, or a hobby, or an attractive haircut. Frankly, I'd rather Famous Advice Columnist had grabbed my genitals, because I'd rather hear "I want to have sex with you, you hunky bastard!" than "It looks you haven't had any human contact recently."

Anyway, while standing there, I made up my mind. Next time he's in town for a lecture or booksigning or something, I'm going. And the minute he stops talking, I'm going to race right up and squeeze him. Beam like I'm in heaven and squeeze him, wrapping my arm tight around him and maybe even lifting him off the ground. That'll teach the son of a bitch!

You know, sometimes I think I need a hug.


Steven said...

I should state I was not the gooey, Cinnabon roll-like Steven you were talking about.

Yet Another Steve said...

Yeah, and I'm 3000 miles away, hey.

I'll bet the huggy writer was just so overcome at running into another gay writer whose work he has always secretly admired, that he was struck speechless and could only express his tremulous joy with a big warm hug, after which, being a New Yorker 'n all, he was quite properly so embarrassed that he scuttled away without a word.

Either that or he was stealing your wallet (being a New Yorker 'n all).

RomanHans said...

I'll confirm it was neither of these Stevens. This Steven is the M to his boyfriend Pete's S. Which makes me question Pete's abilities: I mean, how hard is it to tell your slave, "Lay off the donuts"?