Do I have to smack you?

I was relieved to read in this entry on a Fistful of Euros that I’m not the only one who’s an utter klutz at cheekshaking. Years ago I found the kiss-hello and kiss-goodbye thing charming; now I’m just irritated by it.

Those Czechs who kiss with grace are either motivated by genuine sentiment (even better if shared by the other party) or they’re adept at faking it – which sorta makes them whores, when you think about it. I notice the Czechs tend to actually touch cheeks, while Americans, to pick on one nation, who adopt the custom tend to leave a couple inches between their faces. Personally, I like to nip at their ears.

Een my neyteef kontry, we’re a little more reserved with the physical contact. The only people who shake your hand are a) politicians, but only in a campaign year, b) preachers, but reluctantly, and c) bankers. (There is a growing trend to set aside a few seconds in the middle of worship services for congregants to shake hands with those seated near them – after which they can go back to pointedly ignoring each other.) Cheek-kissing is widely viewed as unclean, except among married couples in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

Physical contact among adult family members in Missouri is also frowned upon. My own family has made some progress, for lack of a better word, in this area, although we’re really bad at it. We try to embrace and shake hands at the same time. A more natural Missouri variant of the kiss-hello is simultaneously nodding your head once and waving two or three fingers from the steering wheel or side mirror as you drive past one another. Many believe this is how Jesus greeted his neighbors.

In the end, I say keep it real. If you really feel like getting cheek to cheek, by all means; you may want to consider the other person’s feelings in the matter, however. I, for one, promise never to be hurt if you don’t kiss me hello or goodbye; I’m more likely to be freaked out at your presumption, you harlot. So please don’t take offence if I extend a hand instead of a cheekbone. Or if I just nod and raise a finger or two.


At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Wisconsin we roll down the window, pull down our shorts and let our cheeks kiss the wind. Go Pack!

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Interesting. I have the same experience with hugging in my family. Nobody ever used to hug. Now even the men sometimes hug. I tell them it's OK as long as we hit each other at the same time.

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find the back-slapping-when-hugging ritual that happens between men somewhat coy. I figure as long as you're going to hug someone you should just go ahead and hug him. But then again, I'm probably gay. Jeff

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