I am a kisser. I love kissing. It’s a peculiar human behaviour exercised by roughly half of human societies.
I kiss hello. I kiss goodbye. I kiss friends. I kiss family. I kiss men. I kiss women. I kiss babies. I have even known to kiss strangers.
The other day I saw a bloke in the street whom I thought I knew – someone I thought I hadn’t seen in ages so I gave him the ‘so good to see you it’s been so long’ classic kiss and hug combo. That’s when you cheek-kiss followed up by a bit of a cuddle, held for a couple of seconds.
He was into it. He even went for a little groin gyration. As I pulled away I realised that he wasn’t who I thought he was. I realised he was a random dude who looked like someone I know. I actually didn’t know him.
He knew me though. He said ‘Wow, Mandy Nolan, you are so friendly’. I blushed and then ran to my car where I experienced mistaken-greeting shame. I never know how to greet people. Too effusive and you’re accused of being too intense, and if you are too reserved you look repressed. You always know when you’ve kissed someone who isn’t a kisser because they freeze up. They don’t like being touched, let alone kissed, but they haven’t worked out yet how to perfect a lip dodge. You realise this when you are about to land your lips and the receiver has gone to wood. You can’t pull out. Once the lips make their journey through space you have to land on cheek or lip.
One woman pulled herself so violently away from me one time that I kissed her on the top of the head. In her attempt to avoid contact with me she ended up with a much more intimate and maternal encounter than what she would have received if she’d just given me her cheek.
I think kissing people as a greeting is lovely. Unless it’s the Queen. You’re totally not allowed to kiss her. Paul Keating put his hand on her back and Michelle Obama hugged her. It was against protocol but I bet she loved it.
The Queen must exist in constant touch deficit. If I met her I’d kiss her. On the cheek though. I’m a one-kiss person. I can’t bear people coming back from six weeks in Europe and suddenly going in for two. If you’re European and the two-kiss is your thing, I’ll go with it. Some people go the three-kiss. That’s like a volley in tennis. I never know when to stop rotating my head. Last time someone kissed me three times, I went four. They got the joke so they kissed me again. By the time I stopped returning service I’d hit about 21 kisses. I finished it up, however, by an unexpected Ace. Bang on the lips. With tongue.
I am never sure of the kiss etiquette. Whom do you kiss? At what event? Do you kiss hello at business meetings? Outside court? Or just private functions?
Until I read the story on Leigh Sales speaking out about a businessman at a charity lip-kissing her as being inappropriate I didn’t realise I’d been out of line.
I don’t kiss everyone on the lips – but if you approach me face first without offering the cheek I assume that you want to take it on the mouth. I won’t put the tongue in. I won’t mash my face into yours, but I will brush lips.
I understand Leigh’s discomfort, though. The gentleman in question had offered a cheek and then as she was about to kiss it he pulled back to the mouth. That’s an old joke. I did it to my mum once and it was really weird. She looked at me a bit like Leigh Sales looked at that bloke.
I saw someone do it on a movie and I thought how funny it would be to pull on someone. Mum was probably a dumb choice. That was so funny in the movie I watched, not so funny when your mum thinks you’re about to snog her. I creeped myself out.
The problem with the greeting kiss I think is that it is gendered. Rather than taking a ‘no social kiss’ policy I think we need to encourage everyone to kiss hello. Especially cis men. Aussie men need to greet each other with a kiss. Lip or cheek, it’s up to them.
I’d love to see Dave and Robbo meet up at the pub after work, both in their high vis, cheek-kissing hello before their first beer. Then Dave turns his head suddenly and kisses Robbo full on the lips. Robbo slaps Dave on the back. ‘Got me there, mate! My shout!’