I have anecdotally heard that the United States of America is the most diverse nation in the world. I love living here, and I love the many cultures and experiences of all of the people around me. It is an exciting place to live, to eat, to shop, and to make friends.
With all of these cultures living together, there are different rules of greeting in each location, whether it be work, my group of friends, my family, etc. The wonderful messiness of the culture here was truly revealed to me through discussions with my students. Some families are huggers; some never touch; some do “air” kisses; some shake hands; some kiss on the mouth; some have different rules for men and women, or for the elders in the family. I personally find all of these rules overwhelming and awkward. Here are some situations that are especially weird:
1. Meeting the friends of friends. Hug/kiss/nothing?
2. Meeting the parents of boyfriends or girlfriends. Cheek kiss/formal handshake/distant hug/all of the above?
3. When co-workers throw parties, such as showers for each other. Kiss/Hug/High five?
Now, when I visit France, I have many things to learn and understand. But, I am, ALWAYS, so grateful for the “French Kiss.” Those “air” cheek kisses that can be two, three, or four times back and forth. That’s it. Social awkwardness removed. And, of course, there is hand shaking in formal situations, but I am rarely in those.
Why can’t we kiss like the French do? Wouldn’t it be nice to KNOW the type of greeting that would be used? Wouldn’t this avoid strange social feelings and second-guessing of physical contact?
I will admit that here, in the United States, I just choose one type of greeting and I stick with it, no matter the cue that the other person gives me.
But I would, honestly, just rather....air kiss you twice, once on each cheek.