Saturday, March 12, 2005

(from chicago)

"Have you ever thought you might have Assburro's syndrome?"
"Is that where other people are constantly trying to get you to carry things on your back?"
"No, you know what I mean. What's it called?"
"Why would you think I have Aspberger's syndrome?"
"You don't really hug people. You just do it very quickly, like you want to get it over with."
"Dear God. So I'm not so touchy-feely. That's my rural Midwestern roots. Why is it so in vogue to take every person with a couple awkward quirks and speculate that they might have some kind of high-functioning autism?"
"Don't flatter yourself. I've never thought of you as being high functioning."


Anonymous said...

i think you mean "over with."

jeremy said...

Thanks. I fixed the typo.

Anonymous said...

you're welcome, CW.

jnsys said...

Here's a post that is unrelated to typos:
It is my experience, from dealing with a child with Asperger's syndrome (not mine, but a child in our scout den), that the child was so adverse to anyone touching him that a light hand on the shoulder to encourage or keep the child from falling while hiking, was akin to a physical blow to him. In other words, he freaked out, and loathed being touched. Of course, it would have been nice to have been told this in advance, to avoid this reaction, but we all learned to be careful around him. When he had to suffer some close contact, as when being shown how to adjust a life-jacket, how to tie knots, or to apply first aid, I could see this child shaking with the effort it took to remain calm. These were by no means the only symptoms of Asperger's he displayed, but as he spent the first four years of his life in a Russian orphanage, before being adopted, it is difficult to figure out if this was something he would have suffered from if he had had a normal early childhood.

The physical contact avoidance is just a tiny part of Asperger's Syndrome. There are many other reasons for people to avoid hugging. Jeremy's right about the "touchy-feely" thing not being part of the area of the mid-west where we grew up. A handshake, and a pat to the shoulder are par for the course, but hugging would get you looked at strangely. It's a cultural thing.
eek! didn't mean to write so much!

Anonymous said...

How many generalizations am I going to read before I feel compelled to say something?

Jeremy gives wimpy hugs. I can vouch for that. However: I do have friends from the rural Midwest who sweep me off their feet with their embrace. I also can think of a number who would be offended by the touchy-feely label – as if in the next moment we all have to sit down and talk about relationships while sipping herbal tea and enjoying a group embrace.

Strengthen your hugs, Jeremy, or not. But please, no more of the “it’s my Midwestern rural upbringing.” It’s just you. No excuses or apologies. It’s just the way you are.
--a friend in the Midwest

jeremy said...

"'Friend' in the Midwest": I don't know who you are, or if you are actually a friend of mine. I also don't know if you actually know much about the rural Midwest or are like a lot of people around Madison who presume that Madison and the rest of the non-Chicago Midwest is "the rural Midwest." In any case, where I and jnsys come from, which is definitely rural and definitely the Midwest (but perhaps other rural Midwestern areas vary), men don't engage in as much hugging as seems common elsewhere. I don't even think of this as a particularly controversial assertion, so if you want to have your offended friends contest the point, feel free to have them e-mail me or comment here. Regarding my own "wimpy" hugs, just let me know who you are, and I can assure you that you won't have to be burdened with that anymore.

Sarahliz said...

I just have to say that I think the cultural explanation is right on here. Yes, it's a generalization, but in my experience a pretty accurate one. Hugging was simply not common practice in my hometown (Cazenovia, WI). I don't remember EVER hugging my high school friends. As I recall hugging was reserved pretty much exclusively for family. This is not to say that individuals from the rural midwest never hug, nor that they are incapable of learning how to be profusive huggers. Certainly when I first started college the act of hugging people was still a little odd. But now hugging is a regular part of greetings and partings. I would argue that it's cultural in much the same way that regular kisses on the cheek are cultural.

CW said...

Perhaps Jeremy reserves his good hugs for the deserving. I have been hugged in a truly purposeful and non-wimpy way by everyone's favorite blogger and found nothing lacking. If you ask, he will even make a special sound.

Anonymous said...

If I had Tourette's would'st I bark
O! t'would be such a joyous lark
that amidst some solemn ceremony all to heed and hark
my name e'r to mark

jeremy said...

CW: Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I've read that hugging didn't become a mainstream American greeting ritual until the 70s. If this is true, it probably started off more popular in some areas than others. Does anyone have a sense of the geography of hugging beyond the observation that there is less of it in the midwest? Where are the big huggers? California?

Anonymous said...

My origins are from the northern plains and hugging was almost absent. I think it comes more from notions of gender than anything, though I think Mediteranean (sp?)men might be inclinded to do some hugging. I've spent some time in the South and the 'good ol' boys' don't do much hugging either, that's for sure. Esther

dorotha said...

Harrieds aren't too keen on hugging acquaintances, but my brother, sister, mom and I are excessively affectionate with each other. We sometimes hold hands in public. And if a person is a good pal, I will totally snuggle with them (even though no one takes me up on this). Anyway, the Harrieds are Texans. Are Texans known for hugging or are we just brutes with concealed weapons?

Anonymous said...

I have suspected you of being a pistol-packer for a long, long time now.