Here is another post that will deal with the unique industry I work in, full of big personalities, big vats of alcohol and big sociopaths.
The theatre industry is one of those places where everyone acts big all the time. It’s a classic case of peacocking: in clothing, in accessories, in the book you’re carrying around, in the way your voice projects around a theatre when you stage-whisper “Kierkegaard” and in the way you enter a room.
The reasoning behind it seems to be something like this: if I enter this party, foyer or theatre with AMAZINGNESS, any stranger will be behoven to assume that, to match your amazing arrival, you yourself are amazing.
An easy way to enter with amazingness?
Have the hugest greetings in the world.
As a result, greetings in my industry are massive. The minimum greeting is a kiss on the cheek. But I have been greeted by many vibrant colours of the intense greeting rainbow, including:
- The combined kiss AND hug, where you kiss first, then hug, then start to separate, and then the other person, confused about the length of these things, is still holding onto you, so you come back in for a longer hug, but they’re already been burnt and are WITHDRAWING from you, and things get rough.
- The continental double-cheek-kiss where, again, if not warned, you might retreat back from the kiss, thinking “WE’VE ALREADY HAD OUR PATENTED CHEEK PECK AS FAR AS I AM AWARE” and the other person is leaning right back in for Smackeroonie Numero Duo, and you meet noses at a really awkward angle, physics-wise, and things get BLOODY.
- The hug-with-no-kiss that you thought would have been a hug-with-yes-kiss, so you find yourself murmuring a breathy bourgeois “MWWWWAAAAAA” into someone’s ear while they hug you silently with confused pursed lips.
All of this sounds a bit dodgy, right? A bit awkward and horrible and the sort of thing that might keep you in your room for every Wednesday night til eternity, only venturing out to see Tuesday matinees, or whenever you can be sure the “pretty people” won’t be there to scare you?
And to compound the awkwardness of it all, a lot of these people you are hugging and kissing and ear-breathing into are NOT ACTUALLY PEOPLE YOU WANT IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO YOUR FACE.
(Thank you to the lovely Cathy for blowing my mind with this realisation today, which we talked about in a foyer, after a friendly and non-awkward greeting hug that we had obviously both practiced in our respective cars tonight before entering said foyer.)
Yes, a lot of these hugs are not “OH GOD IT’S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU” or “I WANT YOUR SKIN NEAR ME RIGHT NOW” hugs. They’re often “Oh. Hey Bob” hugs. Or even “OH THIS BITCH IS THE WORST” double-side kisses. Sometimes you hug someone hard while thinking “I WOULD NEVER TRUST YOU WITH MY ARTISTIC SOUL”. But you do it anyway. Hug right on home.
But you know what I like about this?
I like everything about this.
I like that on a regular Wednesday night you get to hug a WHOLE lot of people, 90% of whom are not douchebags. After a day of sitting in front of my computer writing To Do lists in tiny font so the tasks seem less overwhelming, this is a tangible way of remembering that other people exist.
People who have big voices, and big stories, and big jewellery. People who might have done something a little more interesting with their day than search for new ways to word the phrase “rip off the bread and dunk it in the soup” so it sounds most dramatic.
And they all want a piece of you.