Thursday, September 16, 2010

True Confessions: Kisses

I'm not very physically demonstrative with non-family members. The French custom of the double-cheek-brush/air-kiss is even a little more than I like, though I do it when the context is appropriate. (When in Québec, do as the Québecois do.) At least, that's what I like to think. But there is evidence to the contrary.

Case #1: Comme les français
During my first or second week on my new job in Colorado, I was part of a team hosting some visiting VIPs. I was nervous, still feeling out of place. Then I saw a familiar face: a senior officer we knew socially. In my relief, I greeted him as if we were old friends who hadn't seen each other in decades and (maybe because he is French-Canadian?) gave him a double-cheek kiss. Actual kisses, not air kisses.

Fortunately, he was gracious and made nothing of it. But I cringed as he left, wondering if he was going to ask his wife what was up with me. On future occasions when I bumped into him, I made sure to greet him with a big smile and nothing more. (Well, with clothes, too, of course. Just nothing more in the greeting sense.)

Case #2: A Near Miss
When Peter was four years old, he needed eye surgery to correct strabismus ("wall-eye"). He was small, so the doctor asked me to sit in the examining chair and hold Peter on my lap while he performed the examination. I did so.

Now, when my children were younger, it was simply an automatic impulse for me to kiss any bare skin that came within proximity of my face. Heads, tummies, shoulders, necks, bellies. Toddlers and babies are meant to be kissed (and to have raspberries blown on their tiny bellies). I did a LOT of kissing.

So while sitting there, I kissed the back of Peter's head. Then the doctor, wearing short sleeves, reached past Peter, past my head, to adjust something. I turned my head, puckered up and just BARELY stopped myself from kissing his bare arm. I think it was the extreme hairiness of his arm that woke me up.

Phew. That was close!

Case #3: Sharing of the Peace
In church, one Sunday, we were "sharing the peace" - that awkward part of the service where the congregation shakes hands and blesses each other, offering the phrase, "The peace of the Lord be with you," or something similar. Steve and I typically give each other a quick peck on the lips. I usually give the boys "noogies of the Lord." And on this one Sunday, I gave the visiting minister a kiss smack-dab on the lips. Yup. I don't know whose shock was greater: his or mine. Or his wife's. (Stephen didn't even notice. I told him about it later.)

I immediately wanted to disappear; spontaneous combustion would've been a real grace. The service continued for approximately 72 hours while I stewed in humiliation and God failed to answer my prayers for immediate rescue.

I still have no idea why I kissed him. I mean, he was a nice enough minister and all, but it's not like I was attracted to him ... I never spoke to him again. There's just no coming back from that one.

[Musical interlude while you cringe and pray for my soul.]

Allie Brosh has addressed the whole "awkward situation" dilemma in her ineffable blog, "Hyperbole and a Half." I can SO relate to her bottom line. (Click that link!)

Now I'm going to go brush my teeth because, evidently, I never know when I'll be kissing a stranger.


  1. I am totally with you on the hugs and kisses. I'm such an awkward hugger that I end up looking like I'm trying to kiss or make out with someone. It came to my attention a year or so ago that Jason's friends had noticed the way I always slipped out at the end of an evening and were going to "force" me to hug them whether I liked it or not. I still manage to find my excuses to slip out now, though I've had to get rather creative!

    And I love that Hyperbole and a Half post! I was just reading it the other day. I love her solution to "close talkers." I was crying from laughing so hard at that one. Unfortunately I usually have problems with my students being "close talkers"... I don't think it would be appropriate to lick them!

  2. Yeah, licking your students might not go over so well ... :-)


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