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Kiss me quick

Or not. Jonathan Schofield gets air-kissed once too often.

Written by . Published on April 4th 2007.

Kiss me quick

“Well just a quickie. You want to do it again madam? Whoa there. A third time, but we’ve just met?”

Cheek-kissing etiquette, those puckering up greetings, leave me confused and embarrassed. What do you do? How do you approach the situation? At a recent event a London PR woman hugged me and then cheek-to-cheeked me, one side then the other, three times. By the last kiss I was waiting for someone to shout, “get a room!” Indeed, I was so bewildered about where to put my head I gave her a Glasgow kiss instead of a chaste peck.

This might all be down to my nationality of course. I’m British and I like being reserved. I prefer irony to slapstick, detachment to engagement. As a rule I’ve found that tactile relations between new acquaintances, is the preserve of binge drinking sessions. Or Italians. When I was brought up in the seventies, outward displays of physical affection were taken to indicate deep psychological trouble - even between close family members. Hugging a stranger was welcomed like a dose of Black Death.

I pine for the good old days of a firm handshake. Not one of those idiot finger breaking workouts from businessmen worried about their manhoods, but a decent brief grip of mutual respect. There was certainty and clarity. None of this doubt over do I, don’t I and how many times?

Public relations (with noble exceptions, you know who you are in Manchester) is a largely useless lubricant in the cogs of society. But the first, second and third times I was cheek-bothered by someone they were all PR types. Could it be that human behaviour in the UK has been altered by PR? Lord help us all.

Then again it might be American teen soaps that are changing the British. They may already have done so. The OC generation in high schools, in universities - in Cathedral Gardens on a Saturday - are at it all the time. They cling to each other like a mutual friend’s just been savaged by a demon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hugging with no strings attached is de rigeur. No hang-ups at all.

It was suggested I write this with a view to offering advice on what people might do when faced with a person’s head bending towards them? But I’m clueless. I offer only incomprehension. Best I can do is say, close your eyes and think of England. Personally I’d much rather shake on it.

Do Confidential readers have a solution to the dilemma of air-kissing? Should it be one, two, three? A handshake or a slap in the face? Let us know below.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

GordoApril 4th 2007.

OOh Brian, purrrrr........

AnonymousApril 4th 2007.

its bad enough having to kiss my mum, let alone friends....and as for strangers....jeez....cut it out!

brianApril 4th 2007.

Surely air kissing is better than the practice undertaken by Manchester Confidential most of the time - ie the practice of arse kissing....

YetiApril 4th 2007.

As an American now living in the UK I find the whole cheek kissing thing rather uncomfortable. I remember my English wife urging me to give my mother-in-law a kiss on the cheek when I was still getting to know her, and I just felt 'awkward' and wierd. It's one thing for your mother-in-law (who's more or less family) and I think nothing of it now. But other women, not my own wife, who may be wives or girlfriends of friends or work associates - absolutley NOT! If a woman wants a social kiss, I prefer to let her lead, and I'd rather squeek by with a nice hand shake. It's innocuous, respectful, not too forward and isn't invasive. And I'm not stuck wiping lipstick off my face.

pat and kathy crottyApril 4th 2007.


HowardApril 4th 2007.

Nice piece Jonathan. My tip. Just take the lead and do it (as you do with most other things) with confidence!

Simon SmithApril 4th 2007.

Oh joy, PR luvvie bollocks has made it to town. :( Big thumbs down

LynApril 4th 2007.

Its all to do with our personal space and strangers invading it. The space we like to call our own is reduced the more we get to know someone and goes down to zip if we fancy someone! However I quite agree with Jonathan, having your space invaded by overbearing kissy people is much to much to cope with when you are British (we have a larger personal space than the Europeans) Lets get back to a handshake and a smile and quick. You can tell much more from a person's handshake than you can their cheek kissing abilities.

BethApril 4th 2007.

It tends to be 2 for some parts of Europe (& people who prefer that more sociable and relaxed expression), 3 for some other parts of Europe and 1 for just a nicer hello than a handshake or a smile (God forbid English people should do this!!). I quite like it actually, but only when I have already met someone do I kiss them in this way - a handshake is a universal business greeting, and for testostorone challenged men it can be their reaffirmation of their manliness - which is nice for them ....

ConfidentialApril 4th 2007.

Well we're a broad church Mr Anon and we leaven the articles we do with general pieces about day to day life in the city - and there's a pandemic of air-kissing at the moment. Anyway watch this space to see how the site develops and expands over the next few weeks.

AnonymousApril 4th 2007.

What is going on? 'Where to eat' 'Where to go out' 'What's hot in the city...' is ManCon's strapline - what on earth has the article above got to do with any of that? if air-kissing is all there is to talk about in this great city, I'm emigrating

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