To hug or not to hug

This past Saturday I was in my improv class and the assignment was to play “hug tag”. Basically you have to be hugging one other person or you can get tagged and become “it”.

I was a little speechless because it was unexpected. Part of improv is just “going with the flow” and accepting whatever is thrown at you without flinching. The other part is to work together as an ensemble or group and not interrupt things because you’ll ruin the experience for your group and the audience.

So I just volunteered right away to be “it”.

The game was a little awkward and people were not really hugging but kind of putting their arm around the other person’s shoulder.

At the end of class I went up to the instructor and told her that I was caught off guard and didn’t want to interrupt class, but if she could let me know ahead of time if there were any other exercises involving the need to touch the opposite gender.

I realized as I was speaking to her, that I had no way to explain it without sounding like a weirdo. I basically told her that because of my religious beliefs I really shouldn’t be touching guys or have them touching me. I tried to elaborate and all that came out was, “You know, like in what would be considered romantic situations”. Man I sounded like a dork!

She was nice about it and told me there was nothing else like that particular assignment and she was glad I said something.

I definitely felt better.

I’m sure some of you may think that if I want to be in the entertainment industry this is just some of the stuff I have to face. But like the director from Mooz-lum said in his interview, if you give people boundaries they respect you.

I know there are plenty of Muslim gals and guys who hug others because it’s just another way of saying hi.

But I personally feel uncomfortable. Not just because of religious beliefs, but because I know I wouldn’t like it if my husband was hugging random girls.

Then again, I do let hugs slip by for one reason or another. So I’m really confused. I’ve had hugs from professors, work colleagues, even neighbors- we used to live next to an older gentleman and his wife and they would always hug my husband and I if they didn’t see us in a long time.

My problem now is that I keep going back to what I told my instructor and wondering how I should have/could have explained the situation to her. Do any of you have a better way to say things? Or do you think hugging is not a big deal?