Tyrades! Have You Hugged Your Banker Today?

Friday, February 27, 2009

"Stop the World - I Want to Get Off." I'm reminded of that 1961 musical when I see all the dizzying changes around me. Inane chatter now travels by Twitter instead of the grapevine. Cursive writing is on its last legs. Olympics heroes are puffing on bongs. A Kuwaiti businessman has introduced super-heroes who get their powers from the attributes of Allah rather than from a radioactive spider.

And then there are our financial institutions and our methods of greeting one another.

Liberal economists are salivating over the prospects of nationalizing our largest banks. I foresee myriad problems if Uncle Sam seizes control. Formaldehyde-soaked FEMA trailers will be the new safety deposit boxes. Chains will be attached, not to ink pens, but to government cheese. Millions will be spent on the Routing Number To Nowhere. Instead of tellers, the banks will be staffed by "don't ask, don't tellers."

Even more disturbing than the bank situation is the "Time" magazine article asking "Are Hugs The New Handshakes?" Not only are President Obama and various hip-hop artists popularizing the trend, but the Free Hugs campaign and Hugs For Humanity Project are championing the change. (Hugs for Humanity? That name makes me think that instead of building you a new house, Jimmy Carter will show up to build a sexual harassment case against you.)

We already have enough trouble with the jerks who think they have to test your masculinity with a bone-crushing handshake. Let's not give them a blank check for bear hugs. ("Alert the media! The python has escaped from the ...no, wait-it's just that idiot Killer Johnson hitting the Bud Lite again.")

The Bible says that man will earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow. It doesn't say anything about earning affection with the sweat of his underarms. And, believe it or not, not everyone wants to be permanently imprinted with the smell of your Eau de Hai Karate Knockoff.

I'm leery of having my social customs dictated by the actions of squealing teenage girls. What's next? Hillary Clinton whispers to French President Sarkozy, "Don't quote me, but I think Vladimir Putin stuffs with tissue paper"?

Call me uptight, but I generally reserve my squeezing for immediate family and grieving individuals at funeral homes. Okay. Okay. You never know how an unsolicited hug might change someone's whole outlook. Maybe the person whose personal space you invaded with a big old hug was contemplating suicide. Maybe now he'll hold his head up high and beam, "By George, I think I'll upgrade that suicide to a murder-suicide!"
Granted, my son thinks it's a good use of his time to rush up to strangers and give them a hug. He also thinks it's a wise application of the Coast Guard's resources to search for his burnt umber crayon, so consider the source.

I'm afraid we're on a slippery slope. Once the novelty of hugging wears off, how will we up the ante of intimacy? Will the gesture of choice be to slather suntan lotion on passersby?

It will be a tough fight, but I think we traditionalists will win. And you can take that to the bank. Unless you're afraid to show your face. ("We thought your putting money in a 'Christmas Club' account was blatantly offensive, so you've been scheduled for sensitivity training at...")

Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at tyreetyrades@aol.com.