I have been trying to devise some sort of behavioral protocol for all the everyday happenings in my life.

I’m talking about waving and hugging and shaking hands, mostly.

I have a tendency, for instance, to wave at people as I am walking down the street, or standing idly in my yard.

But what is proper? Am I inciting some sort of unwanted attention?

For instance, I usually wave at policemen, and that’s a lot of waving, because my street is what I deem a thoroughfare and there are lots of police cars traveling back and forth all the time.

This is very comforting to me, because if I ever get into one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” scenarios, help will arrive almost immediately.

I have never walked a block or so down my street without seeing at lease one police cruiser.

But many days, I hesitate to wave. I don’t want them to think I am presumptuous. Nor do I want them to think I need assistance.

I guess if I needed assistance, I would wave both arms madly, if I were able, and they would surely see that as a sign of distress.

Usually, what happens is I wave, and they wave back. That’s nice.

I also wave at my letter carrier. And he always waves back, even when it turns out, later, that he is not my real letter carrier, but a substitute.

Do both the U.S. Postal Service and the Texas City Police Department advise their employees to return waves of little old ladies walking dogs?

I usually wave to the garbage collectors, especially the ones with the huge truck who pick up all the brush. They always wave back — and are so quick to pick up all the brush.

When I began working for the newspaper, I quickly learned that as a professional person, I needed to shake hands with almost everybody I met, particularly those about whom I was going to be writing, like city officials and school board members. So I became a hand shaker, though sometimes to the detriment of my poor, over wrung hand.

I also found out rather quickly that this community is full of huggers.

In church, everybody hugs everybody all the time.

At meetings of folks like the chamber of commerce, hugs are in order.

When you have not seen someone for at least a week, hugs are expected. And who knows how enthusiastic hugging can get with some long, lost friends.

When your have been hugged by some of these bear hugging gentlemen, you have been hugged.

Which is breathtaking, but fun.

Kissing? I just may be becoming a germaphobe.

I am reserving that for close family.

Cathy Gillentine is a columnist for the Daily News and can be reached at cgillentine1@sbcglobal.net.

(1) comment

Lars Faltskog

I wonder about these kinds of social protocals too. Interesting that it seems that these days there's a lot more hugging going on all around.

Probably because I was shy and didn't like all that huggy kissy stuff, I pretty much was able to stay away from hugs and many handshakes. Exceptions: a great aunt or two who you couldn't refuse, or else they'd carry on and on - maybe start crying because lack of a hug was (to them) a personal affront. But these days... I don't think I could get away with that, even as youngsters. Seems as though one good thing parents are generally doing nowadays is teaching children to shake hands, hug.

Also interesting is us adult men's point of view regarding hugging. Case in point, a family friend of ours had just had an unfortunate episode where the minor daughter had accused an adult male (co-worker of one of her parents) of "propositioning her" - by touching - at a restaurant void of people, about to close. Apparently, her mom and dad also weren't present at the moment to witness the apparent crime. They are in litigation with no witnesses to speak of.

Well, fast forward a month or so, and I had to greet these people at a function. The daughter is an all-around affectionate individual. She came up to me and I automatically treated her as I would any individual that I would customarily shake hands only. She said, "Just a handshake?" When I noticed there were "eyes" on us, I was able to oblige her hug, but I gave the biggest "hands off", turned head, and brief nano-second encounter that could be humanly possible. I think adult guys have this dilemna - do we hug, and who, and is it potentially going to be misinterpreted?

As I say, it seems all genders are hugging more and more these days. I can't stand it.

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