Modern man faces a daunting list of dilemmas – get married or stay a bachelor, choose the safe career or the risky one, electric razor or standard – but none compares to the intense, real-time, ball-breaking decision that many a man often faces at the end of gatherings: do I hug the other guy goodbye, or just offer a handshake with a pat on the back?

One man’s story reveals the pain, the gut-wrenching awkwardness – nay, the abject terror.

“I broke out in a sweat and my knees were shaking,” said John Forrest, 42, a sales rep from Toronto, Canada. “I knew it was coming all night. My wife Andrea had set up dinner out with this other couple. I’d met them one other time, and see that’s always the killer. If you’ve never met a guy before that night, it’s often clear-cut: handshake only, dude. But if you’ve met the other guy once or twice, and then you have a long, fun night together, it gets into that nebulous territory.”

“That’s what happened with the four of us,” he continued, voice cracking. “We laughed, we drank, we talked about all kinds of shit. Then the check comes and we pay it. We walk out together and we’re standing outside the restaurant about to part ways.”

“Our wives knew each other better, so it was an obvious choice for THEM to hug – and they’re chicks; it’s so much easier. So then it’s me and Mark standing there, with nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, and a goodbye obviously has to happen one way or another. I’m like, we got along great, but it’s only the second time I’ve ever seen him. The wives hugging always makes for more pressure to do the same. But damn. It’s weird. I’m a guy.”

Forrest describes how, in the end, he went for it, with devastating results. “I sort of tentatively made a move to hug him. But at the same exact time, he put his hand out for a shake. I corrected at the last minute, and tried to add a pat on the back as if the shake-pat was all I had in mind all along. But I think he saw through it. Now what the hell are we supposed to do next time? Am I supposed to downgrade and not offer a hug? How will I even withstand his eye contact? It’s enough to make me tell my wife, no more socializing with other men. I can’t take it.”

Forrest believes it’s unfair that men have to handle these awkward goodbyes all the time, whereas women can practically say goodbye by performing oral sex on each and nobody bats an eye.

By Holly Love, Photo By Ethan Moore