Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Two Kisses or a Wave?
It took me a little while to get used to the double kiss greeting here in Rio de Janeiro. In the past, I would have a mini anxiety attack when I entered into heavily attended dinner parties. It was the question, do I kiss everyone? Do I have to??
I'm used to it now. I'm a lean mean kissing machine. I can handle a fully attended Brazilian family event like a Brazilian! Kisses flying here and there, hello hello, tudo bem?
I'm almost too used it actually. I've found that I feel more awkward meeting people in the states than here. At home I never quite know what to do anymore. Do I give them the little wave? It seems so cold. Oh, nice to meet you but I'm not going to touch you. That's be gross. Do I shake their hand? That seems so stiff. It's like I've run into the old vice principal of my high school instead of making a new friend.
All the stateside options seem so distant and at the same time, I can't hug them. That would make me the creepy person. And if I opt to do the Brazilian kiss, I'd be a poser. I'm American, not Brazilian. Kissing hello here, I'm adapting. Kissing hello there, I'm pretending to be Brazilian.
I find myself hoping I won't meet anyone new the first week. Give me a week to revert back to my North American ways and then I can be social. Once that happens, I normally bust out the little wave unless encouraged by the other person to do more.
And should I meet a foreigner, I always give two kisses. I can't do one. It feels so incomplete. I know Mexicans and Paulistas give one kiss but I'm too far gone here in Rio de Janeiro to conform now.
Of course it's not second nature. I don't kiss my pediatrician on the cheek. It seems weird. I also can't seem kiss my dentist or maid hello. I feel it's strange in working relationship, although I do kiss my students hello. I'm just a big ball of kissing confusion. I prefer to call it being American.