Here in South America, people air kiss. It’s that very European cheek kiss thing that you see in movies and wonder who on earth actually does that. Since nobody does it in the States, it took me a few months to get used to it. In fact, I’m still not really comfortable with it…
These are the rules:
- Always go for the right cheek.
- You don’t actually kiss their cheek, you kind of just kiss the air right in front of their ear. But you do rest your cheek against theirs.
- Kiss hello AND goodbye.
- If you’re female, kiss both women and men. If you’re male, you only kiss women (unless you’re in Argentina, where the men kiss each other as well).
- One kiss ONLY.
The number of kisses depends on where you are and where you’re from, though. Once, I was saying goodbye to a Frenchman we met on a trek, and after the first kiss, which I was feeling quite smug about since I managed not to be too awkward about it, he went for the other cheek and a second kiss! “Whoa, whoa!” I exclaimed. “TWO kisses?!”
(That’s how you make the air kiss awkward, by the way.)
I still feel like a bit of a fake when I do it… like I’m just playing at being very cosmopolitan and that I know what I’m doing. But I do enjoy it… probably for that same reason. I think it’s that same feeling that children get when they’re pretending to be grown-ups.
But don’t worry. I won’t come back to the States and try to implement the air kiss there. It might not seem like it, but I really do try to avoid awkward situations as much as possible. And an American doing an air kiss in America? AWKWARD!