It’s ten pm, you’re standing in the lobby of a movie theatre, and you’ve just been on a first date with some guy you only sort of like. You get a text from your dad; he’s waiting for you outside. This is it, you think, the goodbye. Your feet shift uncomfortably while he chats with some friend you don’t know and as you silently pray he doesn’t try to introduce you, you step down on something that feels unnervingly like pre chewed bubble gum in the new shoes you wore specifically for this occasion. People mill around the room, waiting for the bathroom, finishing their popcorn, quietly judging you, whatever people do after a movie, and you try to plan your escape route. There are way too many people around for a kiss. PDA? No, thank you. But you don’t wanna do a pussy-ass hug either so what other options are there?
Are handshakes acceptable in this situation? Probably not. It was a date, not a million dollar business deal. Just as you consider sticking a thank you note on his back and slinking away unnoticed, he turns towards you, intrusive friend nowhere to be found. He stares at you expectantly, “So do you have a ride home?” He’s talking. Reply, you idiot is all that runs through your mind. You panic and go in for the chummy arm pat, “Yea my dad’s just outside. See ya later!” That seemed acceptable in your mind, so you turn to go, but then you look at him and he’s encroaching on your physical space. You can smell the hug coming on, but there’s no time to escape, his arms are inches from your torso. You give in and open your space to avoid seeming like a hugaphobic freak, but as soon as contact is made, you wish you hadn’t. It’s awkward. So awkward. One of your arms is being crushed beneath a sweaty armpit and you frantically try to recall whether or not you remembered to refresh your deodorant at home, while also focusing on applying the perfect amount of pressure for optimal hug comfort. Not vise-grip hard, but not dead fish limp. It’s a delicate procedure and you’re fairly sure you’re too far into dead fish territory but it’s too late to correct yourself, changing pressure mid hug could be misinterpreted. You don’t want him thinking he should lengthen the ordeal. Definitely not.
After what feels like minutes, but was probably only half a second, you finally pull apart, breathing out a quick goodbye and rushing out the doors into your dad’s waiting car as fast as possible without actually sprinting. You don’t want him to think you’ve got a case of the runs, and need to get home to the toilet.
That situation sound familiar? We’ve all been there. It’s not the fifties anymore; the boy isn’t going to drive you home and walk you to your door where you can be alone to kiss to your heart’s content, oblivious to your parents peeking through the curtains. This is the twenty first century. There are buses, and trains, and over-protective parents that don’t want you driving home in the car with “some hooligan.” Chances are, your post-first date farewells are going to have to be carried out in a busy public place, where physical contact is questionable.