To kiss or not to kiss...
I’ve got a problem. It’s not a big one. Well actually it is. Then again, maybe it’s not. I don’t know. I know it wouldn’t be a problem if I was back in the US. I know what the hell I’m doing there. Here in Europe, though, I have no idea. I blow it almost every time.
When I talk to others, they tell me not to worry; they feel the same way. But I’m not so sure because when I see them in action they seem quite sure of what to do.
My problem… greetings. Handshake. Hug. Kiss. Head nod. What to do and with whom? How often? For how long? It almost sounds erotic, but it’s not. In fact, it’s all a mystery to me.
In the US it’s simple. You hug close friends and family. You shake hands when you meet the first time. After that, it’s rarely more than a head nod and hello.
However, here in the Grand Duchy, greetings are a mosh pit of mixed manoeuvres. Southern Europeans turn cheek kissing into a table tennis match. Northern Europeans shake hands simply, stoically. Luxembourgers kiss three times – a three country border salute, perhaps. The rest of us try to go with the flow, guessing what the other will do. Even my compatriots ad-lib, adding a bit of Eurobeat to their greetings. Some have started to once, twice, three times ladies and men.
“When in Lux… “
Me, I’m lost. Lean in left? Lean in right? Stick hand out? Throw arms open? The internal questions and angst often block my ability to act. When I do act, it’s a train wreck. I go left, they go right. I hug, they shake. Maybe I should just do the hokey-pokey and turn myself about.
The handshake’s the simplest greeting, but I mess that up, too. I never quite get my hand out there. I approach the person mumbling a zombie-like mantra; “Shake hand, must shake hand.” But when I arrive, nothing. My arm lies there like an uncast fishing pole.
In the end, I just want to go back to being a teenager. With friends, it was “Dude… s’up.” With girls and adults the head and eyes dropped and I mumbled, “Hi, Mrs. Robinson,” or something like that. And with those I didn’t know or like it was, “Hey” while trying to summon my best Billy Idol sneer.
But I’m not a teen anymore; I’m an adult. You wouldn’t know that from my greetings.
By Dan Franch