The Rules of the Game

In a hug, there are two places you can be. You can be on the outside of a hug, or you can be on the inside of a hug. Being on the outside sounds sort of cold and remote, but it's really not. All it means is that you started it. On the inside of a hug it is warmer, but if you are claustrophobic, this is not the place for you.

I've been on both sides of a hug, and I know that I'm not good at either of them.

For example, when my friend Lizzie comes up the other day during passing period and practically tackles me in the hallway. This is awkward for two reasons. Firstly, because I slid to the side due to her force and nearly ran into this Hispanic kid, who definitely said something offensive in Spanish (not that I understand Spanish, I barely passed Spanish one, but some things you can just tell, you know?). And secondly because she then proceeded to walk all the way down the hallway with her arms draped all over me and—euegh! By the time I got to History, I could tell that everybody in the entire school was going to be spreading rumours about how we were dating.

"Antonio," Mrs. Gonzalez said sternly as I walked into the classroom just before the bell rang. "You know we do not hold with public displays of affection inside the school building. Don't let it happen again."

Now, notice that it was me that got yelled at, not Lizzie. Girls can always get away with that sort of thing, but the minute I get involved, no matter how unwillingly, a teacher gives me a look, or makes a pointed comment about PDA. Even if I became a monk and tattooed a 'no, we are NOT dating' sign across my forehead in fluorescent green and pink, I bet I would still get the same looks. I kid you not.

And of course, it's pointless to argue because then you get lectured or sent to the principal's office for talking back to the teacher. So I apologized and headed to my seat.

Now, how is it fair that someone who was the innocent victim of a drive-by hugging gets yelled at while the kids who participate in much more…involved…things in the corners of the hallways don't even get a sideways look? I mean, I can see how it might make a teacher uncomfortable to interrupt a full make-out session, but they could at least say something after, couldn't they? A 'Mr. Jones, can I speak to you a moment?' or 'Ms. Hare, do you think your actions are appropriate for the school environment?'. But no, life isn't nearly that fair.

But I digress.

Being on the outside of a hug is not something I am especially accustomed to either. Because, let's face it, guys don't exactly do the whole hugging thing. We do the quick shoulder squeeze, pat-on-the-back thing if anything at all. Yes, even those of us who don't spend our entire lives running up and down a field fighting over a ball. However, there are some cases which warrant, even to me, some sort of reassuring gesture.

One of these happened oh, maybe a week ago. No, it was a week and a half ago—I remember because it was the day we had the fire drill and had to stand outside in the freezing cold for a half an hour. Seriously, whoever decided that it was a good idea to have fire drills in the middle of February was insane. Worse are the people who stand around wondering if it's a fire or not. Of course it's not a fire! If it were, would we be this cold? I like to think that the entire school burning up would produce a little bit more heat than we are experiencing right now, thank you very much.

Being as it was a fire drill and there were approximately two to three thousand people milling around outside in no particular order or hurray to actually get anything done except get warm, I went to the light post where I always meet my friends. Since I'm the only one who can drive yet, I usually give one of them a ride somewhere after school, and it's sort of become our unofficial meeting spot. Everyone was there, Lizzie, Amy, Erica, Nick, all of them. And for some reason, Lizzie was really upset—seriously, she looked like she was going to cry or something. So of course I asked her what was wrong, and she came out with this huge story on how horrible her day had been, and how she had to make up a test in AP Spanish, but she didn't understand what she was doing, and all this other stuff.

Since she was having such a bad day and nobody else was doing anything about it, I figured that I should, you know? So I gave her a hug. It was kind of awkward, me being generally unused to this sort of thing, but she didn't seem to mind. It was everyone else that made a big deal out of it. A very long minute later, she pulled out of my hug and said "Thanks, Tony.". Unfortunately, this wasn't nearly enough for the rest of my friends, who proceeded to make the biggest deal out of it possible.

So my conclusion: high school is way too touchy-feely and nobody has bothered to take down any rules or anything. There should definitely be some sort of Geneva Convention for hugs. And neutral zones. And proper regulation.

Or on the other hand, people could just stop thinking that Lizzie and I are dating. That would work too.