Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Kiss Hello

Being the cliched and aloof Canadian that I am, I struggle with the British (European?) tendency to "kiss hello" when greeting people.

Even while living in Toronto (admittedly a somewhat pretentious city), I was only "kissed hello" once and even then, I let out an audible "wha'?!?!" as the offender leaned in to kiss me - NOT ONCE BUT TWICE - on each cheek. He was originally from Montreal and an artist, so that was his excuse.

We Anglo-Canadians tend to prefer a hearty hug when it comes to friends and family and when introduced to someone for the first time, we merely shake hands. So, all this kissing leaves me somewhat anxious and feeling like Jerry Seinfeld from the episode, The Kiss Hello (you know, the one where Jerry regrets once kissing Elaine's friend, Wendy, on the cheek because now he has to kiss hello every time?)

And according to an article in The Guardian, more and more people are kissing hello in the UK (oh, God).

I remember meeting my Scottish boyfriend's family for the first time. I went in for the hug while his family members went in for the kiss - leaving me feeling embarrassed and anxious. I mean, I rarely kiss my own Mother (shameful but true)! As such, I have come to loathe the "kiss hello" because I always end up feeling awkward.

Bless my boyfriend's family however, because I think they've realised my awkwardness for kissing, and have offered the "hello hug" (sometimes throwing in a kiss as well). Either that or they think I'm a distant and aloof Canadian averse to non-intimate touching (which, alas, is also somewhat true). Which isn't to say that I don't try the hello kiss - I do - but most of the time I just end up feeling like a fraud afterwards.

"I'm going on record right now, that was my last kiss hello. I am getting off the kiss program with her."
"Well, frankly, outside of a sexual relationship, I don't see the point to it. I'm not thrilled with all the handshaking either, but one step at a time."
- Jerry and Elaine, in "The Kiss Hello"


Squirmy Popple said...

Adrian's family is big on kissing hello - I guess it's a very Latin thing. I felt really uncomfortable at first but I've just gotten used to it.

David T. Macknet said...

You woulda loved Argentina, then. Hah! The men even kiss (or, at least, they did when I was there, and in my particular region of Argentina ... which may explain the strange looks I get when people hear my Entre Rios accent, I suppose).

It would be nice to know, though, what the true "regional custom" was, wouldn't it? If it were everywhere you'd get used to it, and not just think that it was people being freaky.

Jennifer said...

ACK! I shiver at the thought you two! I am the classsic cold and aloof Canadian!