On permission

I met with a few relatives yesterday.

We hadn’t seen each other in over a year. We were all vaccinated. We met outdoors. Many of us were wearing masks.

Several times I heard one person ask another: “Can I hug you?”

I question that meant “I’ve missed you,” “You mean a lot to me,” “I’m so glad to see you,” “I haven’t hugged anyone is such a long time.”

A question that also meant “I’m not going to assume that you are OK with me hugging you.”

One relative picked up on that last meaning and reflected out loud “Perhaps we should have been asking this question all along.”

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