Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Smooches All Around

I don’t know about elsewhere, but here in Quebec, we’re big on cheek kissing as a greeting (and then there’s the whole "Mwwwahhhh daaaaaaaaaaahling" air kissing thing, but that’s a whole other story).

We greet people with a kiss on each cheek, always starting on the right side. Pretty straightforward, non?

In your usual social situation, it pretty much goes like this: Kiss, kiss. How are you? How about a glass of wine?

Unless you’re seeing someone who doesn’t drink, in which case it becomes Kiss, kiss. How are you? How about a glass of water/juice/Perrier? at which point you have to find some way to hold up your end of a coherent conversation. Not necessarily something you want to do at the end of a busy week. But I digress.

In Europe it’s a whole different story.

First off, they start kissing on the left side. Which is wrong. Totally absolutely and incontrovertibly WRONG since it results in much embarrassment when faces collide, hopefully with no damage to teeth and noses. I now find myself muttering “left left left” every time I meet someone in Europe, resulting in raised eyebrows and supercilious looks (Europeans have the supercilious look down to an art form - I really must learn). On the other hand, sometimes I’m lucky and the person simply backs slowly away, in which case the whole kissy thing become moot.

Once the whole issue of which side to start on is out of the way, the real fun starts: How many kisses.

As I mentioned, in Quebec it’s two, which seems straightforward and logical, seeing that people have two cheeks (wherever they may be). In Paris however, sometimes it’s two, sometimes it’s four, I’ve even seen up to six. So, if you're lucky you end up with a double kisser, if not, you stop and they go on, or you figure, I might as well keep it up and they stop. How can you possibly justify more than two kisses other than just to annoy others? Finally, you get it sorted out: X does two, Y does four, Z does two… and you meet someone new and it’ll all up in the air once again…

And then you go to Belgium. In Brussels they kiss three times!!!

There should be a rule!

PS: Apparently this is how you do it in France Maybe the fact that most Parisians aren't from Paris explains the varying number of kisses from one person to another.


Ian Lidster said...

Well, the appropriate number of kisses to you, depending on your preferences. When I was in France I felt klutzily anglo Canadian and wasn't quite sure how to handle the kissing thing. There are people I kiss on the cheek (female always) and who kiss me back in the same manner. But, just once.

Evil Spock said...

Welcome back! Oh, and as a yankee, I always mess up the kiss on the cheek.

Jazz said...

Ian - Ah yes, the one kiss. Some of them do that too. I hate them.

Evil S - Nice to know there's someone who screws up more than me. Next time I'll bring you to Europe so you can have first go and I'll look real good coming after you.

Voyager said...

Here on the wet coast it's usually two kisses or none. Ian's an anomaly. My friends know me as a kisser, inherited from my French Canada born mother. The big difference here is that kissers are almost always two women, or a man and a woman, but two men? Nope, not straight ones anyway.

Big Brother said...

Definitely two kisses starting on the right, but then again they've been at it much longer so maybe we are the ones who have strayed off the chosen path. As for air kissing, well nothing beats the Westmount matrons on Green Avenue. They have brought to a fine art form. ;o) "Daaaawlliiin smack, smack. At least their makeup and hair don't get mussed.

Malnurtured Snay said...

Heeeey, you're baaaaack!

I'd get spooked if someone tried to kiss my cheek, unless we were having sex, and then I'd be like, "Kiss me elsewhere!"

Jocelyn said...

Ah, cultural explication! It's amazing you didn't combust, what with all the kiss stress.

Jazz said...

Voyager - The only time men kiss, is if they're very good close friends. Or gay I suppose.

BB - Good thing they don't muss the hair and makeup, you have any idea how much TIME they spend on that?

Snay - Yer such an American!

Jocelyn - I contemplated the thought. Spontaneous combustion would've taken care of the problem.

choochoo said...

How does it feel to be back at work daaaaaahling? *kissy, kissy*

Too_Lively said...

I am glad to see you back. I learned all kinds of new stuff about kissing from this entry of yours.

Jazz said...

Choochoo - You are truly evil

Lively - I aim to please... and edumacate