There’s a particular setting where just about any behavior, as long as it’s peaceful, is acceptable. On an early September night in rural Virginia my boyfriend and I were dancing barefoot on the cool grass while a jam band paid tribute to Kool & the Gang. It was a Thursday, and a time of night when both of us would still be at work. The earth was soft, the air full of music, and I swear neither of us were paying any attention to the thousands of people around us.
A music festival is where anything goes, apparently.
At a music festival, when a short, round man with a jolly Santa Claus looking face asks you and your boyfriend for a hug, you just do it. Even if it seems a little strange. Even if you’re really not a hugger. The setting is right to just go right in for a three way hug.
I don’t think either of us saw the man approach us. When he walked away he almost seemed to disappear. It took a moment for me to even recognize he was speaking to us when he first interrupted our dancing.
“Excuse me. Are you two in love?”
There it was, a question most of our friends and family haven’t even asked us straight up. I guess they know. Context clues and blog posts blathering on about how great he is probably tell the story well enough. Still, nobody just asks, and they definitely don’t do it when the two of us are together. I guess it challenges social norms. I guess we’re supposed to always just let people tell us for themselves, in their own time. I guess it’s the kind of question only an unusual stranger could really get away with asking so abruptly, and even if it could be construed as rude he was set to be gone as quickly as he’d appeared
An emphatic “yes” from each of us was enough to bolster his confidence.
He didn’t act surprised. He acted like he knew, like he’d always known. He asked for a hug, then apologized for being so blunt. He, in his own words, just loves love.
We gave him the hug and he went off into the dark crowd. Russ and I laughed and picked up our dancing. We shook it off as a quirk of the music festival environment. and never saw him again… but we’ve talked about him nearly every day since.
That man made the most of his 15 to 20 seconds of interaction. Over the sound of a band playing ‘Ladies Night” he made us loudly say to a stranger what we’ve been saying softly to each other for months.