My Mom’s side of the family is huge. When you walk into any family gathering there’s this unspoken obligation to go around the room and cheek to cheek air kiss people, “hello”. From what I’ve gathered it’s all about respect. Personally I think it’s pointless, time consuming and extremely uncomfortable. Why is a nod of acknowledgment a wave or to top them all; a hearty hello, with a wave, a nod and a giant grin still not sufficient? It’s so awkward…
Stock Photo - IDK who these freaks are.
It never goes smoothly – before you attempt to cheek to cheek Kiss Hello there are so many things that you have to take into account…and you only have a split second. Do you actually press your cheeks together or just hover in real closely? Do you literally kiss the person on the cheek? Do you make a kissing sound to provide validation to the receiving person or do you just touch your cheek to theirs? Do you do a variation of cheek kissing and then go in for the one arm hug or a two arm hug – or no hug? Too much for me to take into consideration.
And then the other big one – WHO TO KISS, WHO NOT TO KISS?!
Sometimes when I go to family functions in the midst of people that I’m related to/known for years, there are people I don’t know so well/have no idea who they are. So, on top of the uncomfortable cheek kiss hello now I have to make a snap decision concerning somebody elses’ awkwardness. I have to consider the possibility of creating uncomfortableness that is going to encase this often stranger. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a way around it because you really only have two options, and the stranger seems to “lose” in both scenarios:
1. kiss them too; this may freak them the hell out, in their heads they’re thinking, “Who the hell is this person and why are they kissing me on the cheek when she could have just acknowledge me with a nod!?”
2. kiss everyone but them, and then in their heads they’re thinking, “What the hell she’s kissed everyone but me, show a little respect you god damn Generation-Y bastard.” I normally opt for this option because I care more about myself feeling un-freakish as opposed to showering every person older than me with respect.
I don’t know if this is protocol for families other than mine – but what about this scenario: you’re already at your destination, you’re sitting down in the middle of a conversation when someone else arrives. I think I should pause my conversation but stay seated and say, “Hi”. WRONG. In my family this is considered blasphemy. I’m supposed to stop my conversation, stand (most likely wait in a line of 4 to 5 people) and then kiss the newly entered party “hello”. WHAT, but WHY?! It’s this silly respect thing. I already respect these people, I’m going to converse with them throughout my visit so why do I have to pretend that the Queen has arrived?
Of course there’s the dreaded “Goodbye” kiss. It’s pretty much the same as the “Hello” except it goes a little faster. With every “Hello kiss” comes twenty seconds of pointless conversation; Hellooooo I have to go kiss everyone because of this nonverbal obligation to exude respect to all parties presents so will you please excuse me – if we’re close enough we’ll wind up having a mid-size to lengthy conversation, anyway.
The Goodbye Kiss is rapid, at least the way I do it. It’s less awkward because you know that you’ll be shooting out the door and on your way to all the personal space you could possibly dream about. Before I Goodbye Kiss I’ll survey the remaining faces – picking and choosing who shall be worthy of my cheek. Strangers BEWARE, I will surely act as if you do not exist. If I’m feeling ballsy, more so if my mother is staying the night, I’ll just kiss her goodbye and shout “See ya everybody”. I say when she’s staying the night because this means that when we get into the car nobody will yell at me for being rude.
I’m not even going to tackle friends kissing friends – WHY SO FORMAL? WE”RE FRIENDS.
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