It doesn’t take long to grow accustomed to the kiss greeting, in fact I quickly adapted. It wasn’t long at all before I stopped feeling awkward about kissing complete strangers on the cheek, and embraced it. It quickly breaks the personal space barrier (which I’m pretty sure doesn’t actually exist in Latin culture).
You would think that once the whole kiss greeting is figured out, awkward moments are a thing of the past.
You would think.
But you would be forgetting the transition back to U.S. culture where kissing strangers or even good friends on the cheek is far from normal, or acceptable.
When I came back to the States in March I had to constantly coach myself through it. As I waited for my friend Emily (remember them?) to pick me up from the airport I reminded myself once more that an acceptable greeting would be a hug…with no kiss. Success!
That whole afternoon I prepared myself to see her husband Nate. I repeated over and over don’t kiss Nate, you CAN’T kiss Nate, do not kiss nate when you see him–a hug is acceptable, but just don’t kiss him! …and another raging success!
Well, this last time around wasn’t quite as successful. I was at a friend’s birthday party recently with some very dear friends, and a few acquaintances. One of those dear friends brought her boyfriend who I don’t know well. When he showed up, I promptly made my way towards him and leaned in for the airkiss on the cheek. I didn’t realize my mistake until halfway in when it hit me SUSANNAH! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU CANNOT KISS HIM! and I was forced to tuck my head and turn for what turned out to be the worlds MOST awkward side hug.
When it was time to leave the party, I made my way around the 20+ person group and said goodbye to everyone personally. Most (my close friends) received hugs while others (acquaintances like the boyfriend) received awkward handshakes. And I realized I had done it again. When all that was really necessary was a wave in the general direction of the group and a friendly “goodbye”.
So please, the next time you do something embarrassing, think of me. And the awkward neck kiss. And the terrible side hug.
Throw your head back and laugh.
And, I guarantee, you’ll feel a little bit better.