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A Kiss Is Not Just A Kiss

Last week I was tripping around the internet, visiting some of my favourite blogs, and I came across Margaret's little treatise on hugging over at Nanny Goats in Panties. She's a hugger - a real hugmiester. She says some people dive right into hugs, squeezing like all get out. I commented that I was more a tentative huggy type. I wait until I can gauge the strength of the huggee, before I, the hugger, commit.

Now this whole hugging thing got me thinking. In my world we go a bit further. In my world hugging is accompanied by kissing. Now, now, c'mon, we're not all perverts, running around kissing and hugging everyone every chance we get. Especially me. Let me explain.

I'm an Anglophone. I grew up shaking hands and giving the wolf cub three-finger salute. Manly stuff, right? Affection? English people don't demonstrate affection. However in the 10 years my Francophone wife and I have been together I've learned an awful lot about affection. Yes, Mrs D is very affectionate, and no complaints there, but that's not quite where I'm going here.

You see the French are very passionate. After all, they're responsible for the french-kiss, now aren't they? They hug and kiss when they meet, when they part, when they purchase a baguette at the bakery... well you get the idea - a lot. Now this took some getting used to for a mere Anglophone hand-shaker. It was downright daunting. And it wasn't just an "air-kiss" or just a little cheek to cheek action. The French engage in a lusty, if not lascivious, double cheek osculation. I mean they really love to plant a big one on each of your cheeks.

It wasn't so bad with her uncles and male cousins. No, handshakes work for these guys just like they do for me. Which I was relieved to learn. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, if you're into that sort of thing. But none of her male relatives were into that sort of thing. But when I first met female members of her family I'd stick out my hand and mumble an "enchante". But that just wouldn't do. These women would pull me to their bosoms, hug the life out of me and plant one on each of my unsuspecting virgin cheeks.

You know I've been suffering through these greetings for 10 years now and I still haven't got it right. It's damn awkward. It's the double cheek thing that always throws me for a loop. I never know wether to start with the left cheek or the right cheek. Some greetings are more a dodge and dart effort. I'll go left, they'll go left. Pull back. Go right. Look out. Uh-oh.

Others are kind of sloppy. I'll overshoot right, she'll overshoot left, look out she's nibbling on my ear. And if I kiss women with glasses I usually end up with an eyeball imprint on the inside of mine. And, believe it or not, purely by accident, I'll go one way, and the kissee will go the other and - horror of horror - we'll end up kissing on the lips. Ew! And then we both act like that's exactly what we meant to do. Yeah, right.

You know they say this kind of social greeting is actually a sign of respect and reverence. That may be. But it's not a perfect science. In fact it's a real art. Unfortunately, I just can't draw.


Cruella Collett said…
I like that you included a link for how to french-kiss. I always thought of it more as a "learn as you go"-kind of thing, but am pleased to note that there are tutorials even for these sort of things.

And I hear your pain on the non-french-kiss French kissing. I was thoroughly shocked when I as a naïve 17-year-old went to Paris and discovered that handsome boys would kiss me without as much as a warning (what about the non-handsome ones, you ask? They were all handsome). Needless to say, this made me want to move to Paris. Instead I moved to Japan, where handsome (or otherwise) boys won't even look at me on the street, little less engage in any kind of body contact. Ah, life.
Nonamedufus said…
I look at that link on the French kiss as a public service. Too bad there wasn't one on the so-called "greeting" kiss. I sure could use a lesson.

So you're saying you were loose and fancy free when you were 17 in Paris? You're right about the Japanese. I wrote a post about it a couple of years ago that you might be interested in:
Lindamedrano said…
Having a pseudo Persian daughter, I have learned to do the Middle East kiss. That is three cheek kisses. Two is not enough. It has to be three. But only with people who are relatives if they are of the opposite sex. Men and women who are not related do not kiss. It's the law.
Nonamedufus said…
Oh, man, I can't even handle two cheeks, let alone three. I think I'd get started and the momentum might just carry it through to six or seven cheeks. You know, like that dipping bird in the glass of water?

As for men not kissing men, what about this pic of Iran's President Iamanutjob? Some serious action going on there. And not on the cheeks, either.
Ziva said…
Sometimes it's good to be Finnish. Our motto: less is more. Most of the time you don't even need to shake hands, a polite nod of the head is enough.
Nonamedufus said…
Geez, I can just imagine foreplay.
Ziva said…
Foreplay? No need for that crap. This is how sex works in the Ziva-M household:

Z: "Do you wanna?"

M: "Okay."
Nonamedufus said…
So a nod's as good as a wank?
meleahrebeccah said…
Well, if it makes you feel any better, the double cheek thing that always throws me for a loo, too!
Vaguemax said…
My family requires the bear hug. Then the kisses or double handed shake. Don't know where it came from. My kids love it.
nonamedufus said…
What the hell's the protocol? I'm gonna Google it.
nonamedufus said…
The double handed shake. Interesting. Which reminds me of the quandary guys have. Do they do the normal handshake or that up high grasp thing? Awkward.
meleahrebeccah said…
OOOPS! I typed too fast and clearly didn't see my glaring typo.

"the double cheek thing always throws me for a loop, too!"

And yes please Google the PROPER protocol.
Brett Minor said…
I lived in Puerto Rico for a year and they do the same thing there. It took a long time to get used to.
Nonamedufus said…
it's just too much affection when a simple "hi" will do, or in your case "Hola".
Nonamedufus said…
Well, I don't know about you but I use both cheeks in the loo.
Oh, Lord, the whole kissing thing. You could break your nose if you're not careful. You just added a whole new set of problems to the greeting thing. Trying to remember what all your friend prefer in the hello/goodbye department. You have to add that info to your rolodex -- oops, I mean, email address book. (Thanks for the shout out, Dufus!)
Red Raider said…
Ha! "Virgin Cheeks!" I have four virgin cheeks, I'm still waiting for that "magic" moment. French or not!
Nonamedufus said…
He's back ladies and gentlemen and I'm very happy he's gracing us here with his comments. You have virgin cheeks? Ha, that's a good one.
Nonamedufus said…
Look, I'm into the whole two-cheek thing now. I can't worry about what different people prefer. Besides, at my age how could I ever remember?
Nicky said…
Ah, mon ami Cornichon! 10 years and you still haven't figured it out?! You APPROACH the person with your head already turned to the right and your left (facial) cheek exposed for kiss number 1. That way, there's none of those awkward full mouth kisses.
Nonamedufus said…
I lied. It's been 12 years. How time flies. Ah, I see now. You know this lip lock thing can be kind of embarrassing. Leave it to the Cheesy Chick to know these things. If you were here I'd lean my head to the right in appreciation. Sincerely, your little Gherkin.

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