Here's something everyone has thought about, but rarely voiced: hugs.
There a various types of hugs, all pertaining to different groups and relationships. Most people are familiar with all of these, but may not know it. I'm going to enlighten you now, with the gentle embrace of bloggage. (That sounds awful. I apologize.)
Anyway. Here's the Hug Scale, as devised by yours truly.
First Degree of Familiarity: Casual Arm-Over-Shoulder Hug. You know this one. It's the semi-affectionate, often one-sided "I-kind-of-wish-this-was-a-real-hug-but-I-don't-know-if-you-share-this-wish-so-I'm-just-going-to-throw-my-arm-around-you-like-we're-golf/pub-buddies" hug. Friendly and harmless.
Second Degree of Familiarity: From-Behind Hug. This one can be dangerous. Like the former, it's quite often one-sided, but its sneakiness implies that the hug-giver knows the embraceful feeling is not mutual, and will resort to anything to get a hug anyway. Surprising and slightly awkward, because what face are you supposed to make when this is happening? No matter what, it's always just as weird for the people sitting around the hug site as it is for the hugged.
Third Degree of Familiarity: Side Hug. This is when both parties would very much like to exchange an affectionate, frontal embrace, but the situation just doesn't allow it. It's nice in its own way though, because Side Hugs can last longer than their forward-facing brethren without the participators appearing antisocial.
Fourth Degree of Familiarity: Handshake Hug. One of the most adorable hugs, the Handshake Hug follows a well-rehearsed choreography of gestures and high-fives and foot-stomps and what not. Implies a fairly decent amount of emotional security and general closeness between parties. Often implemented between males, but common among primates in general.
Fifth Degree of Familiarity: One-Armed Hug with Pats. Fairly stereotypical of the general male population. Meaningful one-armed embrace accompanied by three slaps of the engaged palm against the receiver's back. The three slaps are rumored to signify a silent mantra between the two participants that sounds something like "I'm-not-gay." Homophobia is pretty prominent in a lot of groups, so this hug is used a lot.
Sixth Degree of Familiarity: One-Armed Hug. Similar to the former one-armed hug with back pats. However, the lack of accompanying back pats does not imply homosexuality, but a comfort between hug participants and a general confidence in personal gender preference.
Seventh Degree of Familiarity: Two-Armed Hug, One Over, One Under. Generally used in settings of mutual, basic understanding between friends of relatively similar heights. Implies nothing beyond vague buddyship, although it is the typical hug for the infamous, yet fairly non-descript "best friends."
Eighth Degree of Familiarity: Two Arms, Both Over or Both Under. Essentially the same as the former hug, but is used when one party is significantly taller/shorter than the other. Also employed when the taller of the two parties wishes to pick the smaller one off the ground. (For the smaller of the two parties: this is great for lengthening the spine. Seriously. It's probably a rough equivalent to an hour and a half of WiiFit yoga.)
Ninth Degree of Familiarity: Two Arms, with Secondary Squeeze. This is a special embrace that basically counts as a double. (Which is just wonderful, as long as it's wanted/expected. Otherwise, it's the longest, most awkward period of one's life.) Anyway...this is when parties go in for a familiar two-armed hug (either of the two previous). However, instead of pulling away after about 1.3 seconds (think about it...that time period is fairly accurate...and yes, my research consisted of counting "Mississippi's" while miming a hug), they give another squeeze that lasts as long as a new hug. It takes a special person to give a special hug, too. Don't take a good Secondary Squeeze for granted. (Yes, you may giggle. I did.)
Tenth Degree of Familiarity: Two Arms, with Back-Scratchage. This is the final stage of familiarity because--face it--you can't hug just anyone and be comfortable enough to hold on and scratch them. That could be completely misinterpreted if the two parties were mere acquaintances. It's basically the Secondary Squeeze with affectionate back-rubbing. Usually only friendly, used for special occasions like graduation and getting your braces off and stuff.
I'm pretty much bored with the hug topic at this point, so feel free to fill in the blanks for yourself.
Next time you find yourself in mid-embrace, notice that the pull-away point falls around 1.3 seconds every time(...unless you're one of those people).
Me. Who else?