Hugs Galore

I was walking home yesterday, lost in my own thoughts. (Mom: In a safe area in daylight with other women walking alone there.) I had just passed by an elderly woman, and I was approaching a group of teens: approximately 6 of them, somewhere around 15 years old.

Suddenly, one of them makes a beeline for me. He is tall and very lanky, with reddish hair, and he’s wearing a white striped t-shirt and shorts. As he hurries toward me, he has his arms open wide, and he says, ‘Can I have a hug?’ Before I can evade him or think to pretend I don’t speak English, he envelops me in a hug and holds on.

Now, I’ve seen teens holding up ‘Free Hug’ signs before and even watched videos like this one: However, a few things differentiated this particular episode. First, there wasn’t a way to escape his hold short of notable violence. Maybe I’m too soft-hearted, but I couldn’t bring myself to knee him where the sun doesn’t shine just because his hug didn’t leave room for the Holy Ghost between us. Second, we had an audience. While they didn’t say anything (at first), it made it more awkward to be outnumbered and watched.

Because the duration of the hug was continuing, and because I am nothing if not suspicious by nature, I tried diffusing the situation by asking, ‘Are you in a cult or something?’ Perhaps not the finest possible response, but the moment was moving at a much faster clip than this particular blog post.

The situation got even weirder when a second boy, of similar age and body type, approached from behind the boy, saying, ‘Group hug!’ before surrounding us both with his arms. Now, this was too weird for me, and I actively pushed backwards, until they both let me go. I hastened away, but not before the first boy asserted something in what I assumed to be Gaelic. Not speaking that language and assuming it was an obscene comment, I inanely responded, ‘I don’t know what that means’ as I hurried off, their laughter ringing behind me.

Of course, I immediately checked that none of my pockets or purse had been touched. And, ascribing bad motives to most people, I thought through what they could have intended. There was no groping of any sort, so this was out as a motive. I contemplated whether they could have attached a note or put something with an insidious smell on my back, but found nothing. Today, I asked our host, and she thought the kids were weird, so it doesn’t appear to be a local trend or type of hooliganism. She was actually quite concerned that I would be put off Irish people because of the incident, so I hastened to reassure her on that score. Just an ordinary teenager with too much access to YouTube, after all.

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One thought on “Hugs Galore

  1. Jesus. I would have clocked them in their faces. This is what living in Russia does to you. DO NOT TOUCH!
    And thank God Mother does not read English. I wouldnt be able to write half of my posts.

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