Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Square peg, round hole.

Since moving abroad I have discovered something about myself, that I never realized would bother me as much as it does.

Am I the only person who gets annoyed-bordering-on-angry when they see people do this??

Okay, before you send me hate mail, let me explain: I am American. And not just that, but I am from rural America. I was raised around farms and fields and dirt and land, and nobody, and I mean nobody I grew up with, or was raised around, did this when they saw each other:

Usually we did this:

Or this:

And sometimes, when we really like each other, and haven't seen each other in a while we do this:

But we literally never do this where I'm from:

And I find it pretentious as h*ll.

I understand that this is a standard greeting in Europe, or even in bigger, more refined places in the United States, but for me, the country girl, it is weird and, dare I say it, fake, fake, fake!

Let me explain.

When I moved abroad, I was thrust into a city (where my husband's company placed us) that is new, shiny, and extremely expensive. Most people who live here (though admittedly not all--again, no hate mail please...you know who you are) live here for one reason and one reason only: status. This is where you come to live if you are young(ish) and have money to spend, and you want everyone who knows you to know how wealthy and successful you are.

People drive Ferarri's across the street to pick up their kids from school. Women wear furs when it's 65 degrees outside. Families buy or rent expansive, high rise apartments because the building holds an air of prestige. When people get together, there is a level of behavior expected that I was completely unfamiliar with. I mean, sure, I know better than to pee in the sink, or blow my nose on a cloth napkin, but the idea of rubbing elbows was lost on me. I would go to events and tick people off, because I waved and said, "Hello!" rather than embraced them for one of those fake cheek kissy things that people do for no understandable reason.

I mean, seriously. I've met women who openly detest each other, cannot stand being around each other, cannot tolerate the sound of each other's voice...who will stand up, offer a lean-in hug (not an actual embrace, because we don't want to wrinkle the Prada) and then air-kiss both of each other's cheeks.


This is me, every time I see it.

I'm of the mindset that: if you don't particularly like someone, and you don't particularly know someone, and you don't particularly want to be touching them..........why should you?

But still, I find myself here in this odd expat situation where it is expected that I greet people "properly," and I interact with them, regardless of whether or not I actually like them, or even want to, for that matter. There are expats here from countries in Africa, Europe, and all over Asia, and I understand, and accept, that in some of their many cultures, it is standard greeting procedure to hug and air-kiss each other's cheeks. But what really baffles me, is when I see snobbish American's doing it.


If you don't like someone, and don't know them, and don't really want to be touched by them, then why should you be? AND...taking my point even further...if I don't want to participate in the fake cheek-kiss thing, then why is that a poor reflection on me, or my culture, or my upbringing, or my manners?

Just because I don't want to pretend to kiss someone doesn't mean my parents didn't raise me right. My mother taught me to say please and thank you, to let an older person take my seat, to hold doors for someone, to help someone who is struggling, to eat with the correct utensils, and to never put my elbows on the table. I was also told that if I don't want someone to touch my body, I don't have to let them, and that smiling at someone and saying hello is every bit as polite and kind as air-kissing them, and that I am not required to adopt the practices of other people, in order to be seen as a well-behaved, polite woman.

My mother, whenever we went outside of our house.

Over the last few years, I have come to three conclusion about the cheek-kiss thing: 1.) Unless you are from a country other than America, kissing both cheeks of someone--especially someone you don't particularly like--makes you seem fake, fake, fake. 2.) Kissing someone on the cheek is not indicatory of good manners--as proven by the women in this silly little city I live in. Their ability to be fake just furthers my theory that pretentious people will do anything for appearances, but behind closed doors, they're hot little messes, just like the rest of us. And 3.) My lack of social etiquette, or pretentious social etiquette, more accurately, is not because I wasn't raised right. I have manners, and I use them, more often than most of the people surrounding me--I just don't like being fake. Period.

Next time someone tries to lean in for a fake-cheek-air-kiss thingy, I am going to do this:

If you want to greet me "politely," do this:

Or this:

Or even this: (I swear waves are the underestimated greeting.)

Because whether or not I am from rural America, I know what real vs. fake is. And this...

IS FAKE. (Especially if you're American.)

But for the record, if Tom Hiddleston were in town, I would slap a fat one right on his kisser. No fake cheek kisses for me. I'd go right for the golden ticket, yes sir.