I wasn't much of a hugger when I was growing up. It wasn't until I was well into my adult life that hugging became a comfortable way for me to greet friends of both sexes. My distance from hugging early on was the product of being the son of a rather stern role model.
The first hug I remember receiving from my dad was at an awards ceremony on the Navy base at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. I am sure there were more hugs when I was much younger, but I learned it just wasn't the way my dad expressed his affection.
Several years later, I remember receiving another hug from Dad. Our family was getting together for a family vacation in Utah. When Mom and Dad drove up and Dad was exiting the car I heard Mom say, "OK, go ahead. Hug him." And dad gave me a welcoming hug. A manly hug with a quick embrace. It was really nice, mostly because I wasn't expecting it and it obviously wasn't easy for him. That's part of my education about hugging.
In recent years I've come to appreciate the value of a casual touch between friends, a hug perhaps. It took a while, but initiating a hug with most friends became more comfortable for me. Occasionally my expressions of casual affection or appreciation even included co-workers, until recently.
These days I have backed away. Bob, the alleged "hoary hugger" Filner, has made a joke of hugging and set me back years. It isn't that I no longer feel comfortable with a hug. It's just that I don't want to be accused of committing a "filner."
In just a few weeks San Diego's mayor has come to be considered so offensive that his former champions have stepped away. Prominent Democrats, former supporters all, have called on him to resign. At first, only seven of the nine city council members wanted his scalp. It took three weeks and now 16 women stepping forward, but finally the remaining two have joined the resign chorus.
In the several weeks since the first public statement that he was crude and rude and aggressively in pursuit of affection from those women who worked with him or for him or just crossed his path in a random fashion, the city attorney appears to have concluded the mayor's office is a hostile workplace. Filner needs to have a chaperone present when he wants to meet with the opposite sex.
Filner is also being investigated for misuse of his business credit cards, and there is another investigation regarding a $100,000 contribution to a cause he supports in alleged exchange for favorable consideration on a construction project.
Filner was in a two-week intense therapy program, shortened to one week because the guy apparently thinks he can change his bad behavior with just a little conversation. While he was away, the door locks to his office were changed to protect any "evidence" that might be inside.
In a very short span Filner has created such impossible conditions in his normal work environment that the City Council president had to look for alternative ways to conduct city business.
People are just plain angry. A recent survey shows that more than 70 percent of the voters in San Diego say he ought to resign or be recalled. A petition to that effect is being circulated. Ironically, Filner's current argument against a recall is that "now is not the time to go backward…" though part of his defense of what he is accused of is that back when he was growing up there were different standards.
I don't forgive him any of his transgressions. Of equal importance, at least for me, is he has turned back my clock, messing with the whole idea of hugs. Drat the man.
The mayor has thumbed his nose in the faces of city voters who agree with managed competition. He has apparently taken trips that are vacation-like and called them necessary business trips. Opponents say his actions have reversed any gains in sensible city government operation that had been achieved in the previous mayor's term of office.
Give it up, Bob. There is no upside for you if you stay on as mayor.
Maybe as a congressman you could do anything you want. Please, don't do it at the expense of America's Finest City.
Hawkins is retired after 35 years as a construction industry association manager. He was broadcast reporter and news anchor in Denver. As a Navy officer, he saw action in Vietnam in the River Assault Squadrons and is the recipient of a Silver Star and Purple Heart.