The New York Anaconda Hugger

It was my first time to get a Metrocard, and I didn’t have a clue on how to do it. I was in Grand Central when a man noticed that I was in distress. He asked me, “Can I help you?” That’s the thing about New York, you don’t even have to ask for help because New Yorkers would volunteer to help you. I met several people who gave me directions when I was lost, ran after me to give me something I dropped, and several people even asked me, “Do you want your picture taken?”

This man led me to the machines and showed me how it worked. He handed me the Metrocard and accompanied me to where the tunnel to the subway was. As we were going there, he asked, “Are you Brazilian?” I said, “No, I’m Filipina.” He said, “Filipina! Beautiful people!” When we reached the tunnel, he said, “Well, it was nice meeting you,” then stretched out his arms for a hug.

I thought, “What the hell?” I really didn’t want to hug this stranger, but I decided to just do it because I thought it was a harmless way to thank him.

We hugged.

He asked me what my name was. He was still hugging me. I said “Jasmine.” He was still hugging me, hugging me so tight, close to the hip, our torsos slammed into each other, his arms laced around me. All I could do was inch my upper body away from him, but the rest of me was held captive by this anaconda hugger. He asked again, “What’s your name?” I said “Jasmine.” He laughed and hugged me tighter. I was already showing that I felt awkward, but he kept hugging me. He laughed again and said, “Filipina! Beautiful people!”

I was afraid that I was going to get my first kiss from an overly friendly old man. I was also wondering, was he trying to use the hug as a pretense to pickpocket me? Was he a pervert? Or was he just a clueless old man who didn’t understand the boundaries of personal space?

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Note: For some entries in this blog, a few names and details have been deliberately and willingly changed by the author. This is a personal decision made by the author for specific reasons known to her and is not an endorsement for censorship.

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