In the past decade or so, it seems as though hugs have begun to replace the handshake as the most common form of greeting in casual situations, which is surprising considering how complicated hugs can be from a tactical standpoint.
I generally allow others to lead when hugs are concerned, as I'm never entirely sure how much of a hug to give. Even so, I often misjudge and end up giving a barely leaning-in, shoulder-bump type of hug to someone who was moving in for a bear hug.
And then there's the problem of going in for a hug, but you both lean the same direction and your heads whap together. Or when your button snags on their sweater and pulling away causes them to unravel. Or you attempt to return a hug while holding a nearly full cup of coffee.
Even so, I still find hugs preferable to the high five, which I've been glad to see lose popularity as a form of greeting. High fives require more coordination and aiming skills than some people can handle. I once had the misfortune of standing next to a person whose friend had poor aim, along with a good deal of momentum and a really large hand.
The fist bump as a form of greeting seems to have slowed in these parts, although its popularity was boosted for a time after being used by President Obama and his wife. Howie Mandel, the host of "Deal or No Deal," uses the fist bump on his show as a way to avoid shaking hands with contestants, as he is germophobic.
Mandel might be on to something, as the Centers for Disease Control has recommended the fist bump be used in lieu of handshakes or hugs as a means of reducing the spread of disease.
I've gradually become accustomed to hugging, even to the point where I'll occasionally initiate contact. But those hugs are reserved for those I find most difficult to embrace.
Because I know that eventually, I'll have to let go.
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@gmail.com.