Yesterday we met one of Albert’s school friends, and as we were introduced, I threw my hand out without a thought and almost instantaneously I saw him leaning in for the double kisses and then felt my hand being engulfed and thought ‘damn it, I forgot’ – and the moment passed.
Here, as in other Mediterranean areas, they do the double kiss, when greeting someone. Actually Albert and his friend didn’t kiss. But they are metal/hard rock fans, and maybe they are exempt from it since it’s a bit of a pansy kind of greeting, isn’t it? The fact is, the handshake felt like I was insisting on my reserve, on my difference and on keeping space between us. It felt masculine and like I was enforcing my equality. It didn’t help that he didn’t know how to shake hands with a strong personality. His hand was weak and a little crumpled and regardless of my rational thought, I felt the according symbology of defeated, unstable and insignificant. Yes, all in a moment’s handshake.
I’m in two minds about the double kisses. The biggest problem I face is that I don’t feel comfortable with kissing strangers. I have trouble kissing friends and family – and the prolonged hug is often uncomfortable for me.
However, I do wish, as they say, to do as the Roman’s do while in Rome, so, I would like to be able to do the double kiss.
I guess its just practice and getting used to the physical contact. And also, not taking it so personally. The British traditions really mess with your mind.