At a recent brunch here preceding the Carolina Cup steeplechase race, the host gave me a gift of hometown recognition and, though we are friends, extended his right hand as I approached him.

As the gathering looked on, I ignored his hand and gave him a warm hug, which he returned. It was a natural thing for me to do because I’m an incorrigible hugger and I love the guy. We were among friends, though many politicos were in attendance. Thus far, no one has objected.

Also recently, a high-ranking state official whom I’ve known for 30 years greeted me with a handshake in his office, where several staffers were gathered. I accepted the handshake, though a hug under other circumstances might have been more natural given our long history and our Southern culture of social huggers and kissers. But an embrace wasn’t appropriate to the situation.