Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing: Hugs and Brain Cramps

Over the last few weeks there’s been a flurry of hugging going around. It’s a natural consequence of high school graduation–people suddenly come at you with arms open, as a way of saying both “Congratulations!” and “I understand the emotional whirlwind you’re going through, I’m there, too.” It’s not unpleasant, but it’s a little strange considering that some of these folks are people I would not classify as great friends. Friendly, yes, but not friends.

At any rate, because my mind works the way it does I found myself in one of these clinches (oops, better be careful there, that gives it significance that it didn’t have) wondering how it is that we don’t have more head-on collisions with people we don’t know well when we hug. What I realized is there seems to be some sort of hug protocol where the default is to lean to the left (Interestingly, thinking about it some more, we seem to tilt our heads to the right to kiss); you don’t generally see people leaning to the right when initiating a hug. I’m not wrong on this, am I? Do you notice this, too? I’m curious if this is a universal approach or more of a western culture thing.


Major brain cramp last night. I went to brush my teeth before going to bed, looked at the toothbrushes lined up in the bathroom–and had no idea which one was mine. They’re all the same basic model except for color. “Is mine the green one or the orange one?” It was a strange moment, a piece of information that either went missing from my brain or where the information retrieval system broke down for a minute. I actually had to ask my wife. It was more amusing than disconcerting, but definitely a strange thing. Every have something like that happen to you?


The two men who escaped from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility last month have been recovered, one shot and killed, the other shot (just 3 miles or so from the Canadian border) and now back in prison. From the beginning, this breakout captured the public’s attention and imagination, with it’s Shawshank Redemption-style breakout. It was an audacious plan, we can admit that, but before we start writing books and making made-for-TV movies about it, let’s remember this: the two men who broke out were (are) killers, plain and simple. They’re not heroes; let’s not lionize them.

That’s about it for me today, how’s things by you?

5 Responses

  1. I'd never thought about the right/left to the hugging/kissing before, but you're right!! Random hugs can throw me off (British background!) 🙂

  2. I get brain farts all the time. I attribute it to old age. Meaning, my mind is so full of crap, it takes forever to find the important stuff! 🙂

  3. I hate when I have senior moments like that one you had with the toothbrush. I recently had that happen with my pin #. Ack!

  4. -Jemi–yeah, every once in a while, signals get totally crossed and it's really awkward!
    -Stacy and Donna–it's such a helpless feeling, isn't it? I hate it!

  5. Hugs can be real uncomfortable – how tight do you hold? how long should it go on? – but it's even more confusing living near ex-pats from Europe who want to kiss your cheeks. Not once, but twice. And the Dutch seem to like to do it three times. Ack!

    I often have brain cramp, but usually when I'm thinking about the million things I have to do every day. I've often put water on to boil for coffee, come back later and either found it all boiled away 'coz I forgot or found it cold because I forgot to turn on the fire. *sigh*

    I'm all for equality between women and men, but I'm starting to think women shouldn't be guards at men's prisons and vice versa. Those 2 escapees are dangerous criminals, plain and simple.

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