I’m starting to believe that part of me has become too accustomed to this country. I am so happy here that at some point in my life I stopped wanting to go back home, except to visit (every time I say this out loud I feel like such a traitor) I am forgetting some words in Spanish and I shake hands when I get introduced to people without pulling them forward to land them a kiss.
I was so used to saying hello that way and following an introduction with a kiss that I never stopped to consider how weird it is and how uncomfortable it makes some people to have their personal space invaded. As a Hispanic person you have no choice but to say “Hi” this way and you better get used to it because no itty bitty thing like personal space is going to deter a determined cheek-kisser. I never stopped to wonder before how different it is for people here to be kissed in the cheek or hugged even before names have been exchanged!
Now what I wonder is why in the world would we want to kiss someone we don’t even know? Ew! Because we don’t do any of that air-kissing shit that you see in movies. When we kiss on the cheek, we KISS ON THE CHEEK, little saliva pools left behind and all *shudder*. When we say hello or goodbye we fucking mean it.
It took me literally one single embarrassing moment to get cured of the kissing disease (I don’t mean mono). All it took was to have the person actually bend over backwards to avoid my kiss to learn my lesson. I made it a rule that unless a person is Hispanic, French or Persian that I will not kiss them on the cheek unless they try it first. I will be a receiver of kisses from any nationality except for those but never will I be the kisser anymore, always the kissee (that should so be a word)
I have gotten so used to not hugging or kissing that when I meet someone that tries to say hello to me with a kiss I find myself trying to avoid it as if the person has the cooties! I guess I am a disappointment to my race in more ways than one. I miss feeling comfortable about kisses; there is something to be said about leaving a trail of saliva on a stranger’s cheek that breaks the ice, nothing like the exchange of bodily fluids to bond over!
I have been friends with Dick and Erin for almost seven years and I can count the amount of times we’ve hugged with one hand. They both have cried on my lap, I have cleaned Dick’s puke, held Erin’s hair up while she projectile vomited, slept with both (just slept smart asses) shared secrets, talked to the wee hours of the night, lent money, asked for money, exchange shameful stories, childhood traumas and mommy/daddy issues, I’ve slapped them both around (I’m a mean drunk) and still we have barely hugged or kissed on the cheek unless is Christmas and we are exchanging presents and even then it was awkward for them (I love you both, but you know it's true)
The two of them didn’t even know how to hug properly when I met them, bless their hearts. They were all loose arms, shoulder’s barely touching and their butts high in the air and away from my body as if they were afraid that touching hips might turn into something dirty. I know is not a Hispanic thing that makes me a better hugger, is simply that practice makes perfect and I have had years ahead of them in that department.
When I met my father and mother in law I wasn’t sure on what to do, kiss? Shake hands? High five? Bump fist and blow it up (such a gringo thing), hug them? Kiss them? Wave at them? Agh! I was having a panic attack just thinking about it and I would’ve been mortified is I had tried to kiss one of them and they had petted me in the head or something (true story). Thankfully they were expecting my very Latin kiss and returned it in kind.
I guess part of me will always feel inclined to reach for a kiss and part of me will always know when not to lean forward and to recognize the unreceptive ones who will do a bend a la Cirque du Soleil to get away from me if I try to French their cheeks.