Thunder-ous Real Hugs

My shouts of glee must have woken Lilly, because she raised her head and looked at me quizzically. “What are you so excited about?” she asked, “I thought you were rooting for the Heat.” Lillie is our dog, but she sometimes communicates with me telepathically. And she also has a pretty good understanding of basketball—-for a Labrador.

“I’m not shouting about the game. I’m tickled that they’re showing all the players hugging. Look-—players and coaches from both teams are hugging each other, unabashedly. This never would have happened, even five years ago. Yes, some of them are still a little awkward, the usual “shoulders-only, with a couple manly thumps on the back” type of hugs, but most are full-body embraces. We’re seeing macho ball players give each other *real* hugs. On national TV, like it’s no big deal!”

“But it’s not a big deal, is it?” Other than her old-school choices in basketball (she loves the Lakers, which is why we were watching this game in the first place), Lillie is pretty progressive in her politics and morals.

“No, it isn’t—-or it shouldn’t be. But it used to be. Men were supposed to be tough, and self-sufficient, and wholly un-emotional. Even the older guys in my men’s group couldn’t give a real hug, fifteen years ago. Now it’s happening, on TV, and people treat it as normal. I’m thrilled.”

“Are you crying?” asked Lilly, moving to put her head in my lap, as she often did when I needed consoling.

“Yeah, a little bit, but these are tears of happiness. If men are allowed to feel, and to express their emotions with physical embraces, that is a big deal. For men and for our society, that is a step in the right direction. It may eventually lead to us being more peace-able with other countries, and more gentle with our planet. It certainly is the least homophobic thing that I’ve seen on TV in a while. I’m ecstatic!”

“Well, I’m happy for you,” Lilly nudged her nose under my hand. “But my team just lost to the stupid Thunder. I could use some consoling. You’re not too macho to give me a belly rub, are you?”

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