Monday, August 8, 2011

Kiss, Kiss, Kiss...

The art of the "French Kiss"....

Ok, I'm not talking about the one we try in grade school with a neighborhood boy behind the bus stop, but the one performed in France as standard a greeting as our American handshake.

I'm typically a floater between the handshake and a hug, depending on who the person is and how I'm feeling about my personal space at the moment, rather than a kisser.  Funny though, coz a hug can feel a bit more invasive than a quick peck on each cheek. 

But here in France, when you say hello to someone, even for the very first time, you kiss-kiss the cheeks.  Same with saying your goodbye to people.  I've seen a hello or goodbye session take hours to finish when it's a good sized group of people.  And when I still feel just a wee bit uncomfortable with being quite so friendly to people I've just met, I try to get away with the usual wave to the group.  But of course then I think they must feel I'm cold or don't like them.

When I did my print shoot in May I really took note of this custom, especially when the little boy who came one day (and who had never met anyone before) went around and did his hello kisses and then when leaving, his goodbye kisses.  I have to say it was really sweet and it started to bring me around to this lovely custom.  Since I pretty much missed the hello kissing session, giving my hand for a shake or a little wave, I made it a point to be open to the goodbye kisses if someone started to lean in.

Anyway, there is a visual of this greeting being done that I find quite amusing.  The two greeters both stick their bums out nice and far (I'm guessing to be polite and not rub chests), lean in to each other, maybe bracing their lean with a hand on the other's shoulder, then give a quick kiss on each cheek.  All very well choreographed and executed.  The trouble happens when someone throws you a curve ball third kiss and you get all off balance, coz you're now on the lean back and have to get back in there quickly.  Inevitably, I then land one on their nose or ear or something and have to sort of laugh it off as "Sorry, I'm new to this."

Funny enough, I've found a FaceBook page dedicated to the "French" Kiss...

And this is a great blog post about the do's and don'ts I literally just found while (after) writing this post.  I actually just learned a few things, like you don't actually put your lips on anyone's cheek.  Hmmm, wish I'd known that one earlier!  There are possibly a few people wondering why I was being so "fresh."

But, at any rate, you gotta love a country where kisses are passed around like handshakes.  I just have to get with the love....kiss kiss and kiss to you!

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