Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Huggin' and A Kissin'


It happened to me again this past weekend. In fact, it happens so often these days that I feel I have to discuss it here... SOCIAL KISSES.
Let me start off by saying that I come from a very long line of huggers. My whole family likes to embrace. Hugs all the time for everyone. And, I married a hugger. He comes from a proud line of huggers as well. It's what we do. Do we also kiss, you ask? Why, of course we do, but our social kisses are generally limited to a select few. It is quite common, for example, to plant a kiss on a grandmother, favorite aunt, or any sweet little child when meeting or saying goodbye.
Perhaps an Eastern Canadian thing? Not sure.
Enter our time in Texas. Now, here is where my social-kiss-dial was turned up a few notches. We made all kinds of new friends in the USA. All of our new Texan amigos seemed to enjoy a quick squeeze now and then as well.

Our European friends however... all die hard kissers. I have to admit, I was caught off guard a few times - me going in for a nice farewell hug and suddenly someones lips are upon me, approaching rapidly at an odd angle because I didn't suspect the sudden smooch headed my way. It only took a few awkward pecks for me to figure it out - I had to prepare myself.

It seemed that, generally speaking, most folks gave two quick 'air' type kisses (more like cheek touches), but our Dutch friends liked to go in for three light cheek grazes. Not so predictable.

So now, we're back to real time. Here I am in the land of the Ex-Pat, and it seems everywhere I turn, someone is trying to plant one (or two, or three) on me. I am in a constant state of social kiss paranoia.

Don't get me wrong, I like kissing. I just need to be prepared. We were at a work function of Colin's recently and as I was meeting and greeting, I was getting hugged and kissed from all directions.

The "incident" that spurred my writing about this: the husband of a friend was greeting me. They are Australian. I see him moving in for what looks to be a hug. I start to hug him, and, oh no, he has landed a lightning-bolt-speed kiss on my cheek! The weird part - he went in for a kiss (expecting me to know this), and as he approached, I saw 'hug' written all over him. So as a result, as he ejected himself from the kiss, I was just beginning my hug. Therefore, for a split second in time, he was pulling away and I was actually holding him in place. He was trying to free himself and I wasn't having it. He was stuck in a forced embrace for about one second (that seemed like an eternity!). I was getting my hug if he was getting his kiss. It was the weirdest moment I have had in a while. Definitely an 8 out of 10 on the awkward scale for sure.

Perhaps it will become second nature to me. All this social love is contagious. I instantly feel more connected with these kissers as they have entered my personal space zone more than once for some social greeting love. Not so bad really.

What would make my life a whole lot easier? A quick flip of the hand, holding up the number of kisses expected just before smooches are exchanged. Asking too much? Probably.
Lookout expats of Doha, if it is kisses you want, then it is kisses you'll get... maybe one too many or one too few from time to time, but go easy on me... I am a hugger, afterall.