Let The Hugging Begin!

Let The Hugging Begin!

This is the time of year when the media is filled with stories about commencement speeches (most given by liberals, 34 out of 35 this year) at universities large and small. Most speeches are fairly formulaic with the speaker congratulating the graduates, assuring them that their futures are secure and stay strong through the coming job hunt. I’ll come back to this bit of dissemblance but first I’d like to cover an often-neglected topic.

I’m referring to the endless hugging that occurs before, during and after today’s commencement ceremonies. It’s almost as if the college administrators proclaim “Let the hugging begin” at the start of commencement week.

I live in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia, where this past week we have been treated to endless hugging by every conceivable combination of individuals. We have had the traditional man-woman hug, the man-man hug complete with the now familiar handshake, the woman-woman hug with a number of variations and finally, the graduate parent hug.

The man-woman hug is sometimes fraught with sexual overtones. After all, these folks have known each other for four years and perhaps, enjoyed each other’s company during the year’s of hard studying. Other times, it’s simply a perfunctory hug to say hello or after graduation, goodbye, maybe forever.

Man hugs are all the rage today. No one shakes hands anymore in 20-30 something generations. It’s a handshake and hug now. If not, it’s a nood and cool hello with many variations.

The woman-woman hug takes many forms. It starts with an all out bear hug as if they haven’t seen each other for ages, even when they may have seen each other in yesterday’s English Lit class. We could have the single air-kiss with a hug or for really good friends, the double air-kiss and a hug.

Finally with have the student-parent hug. It should be understood that the graduate is really thanking their bankers from the First National Bank of Mom and Dad. It also should be understood that when the graduate fails to find a job with a significant salary, they may return home to live. This is the most important hug of all.

So when you see graduating students hugging, you’ll understand that it means more than just hello and goodbye. It also means: I’ll miss you, have a good life, until we meet again and thanks for everything Mom and Dad.

Rick and Sandy Billies are the parents of Elizabeth Billies, Esq. who they hugged through four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and three years of Villanova University School of Law. Liz currently lives in Philadelphia where she practices Family Law. Unfortunately, her parents live 5 hours away and don’t get nearly as many hugs as they would like.


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