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Monday, March 3, 2014

Mouth Kissing

I was just thinking about last night's Academy Awards broadcast. There was a fun and relaxed atmosphere, which I found quite refreshing. One thing I thought about specifically was Lupita Nyong'o, who was the winner in the Best Supporting Actress category. Her date for the awards show was her brother, which I thought was pretty cool. Even before she won, he looked like one of the happiest people in the entire theater, and she did, too. Heck, I think it's great that she has a good relationship with her brother and shared this wonderful experience with him. As long as she doesn't kiss him on the mouth, like some people, was part of what I was thinking. There was a big hullabaloo several years ago when Angelina Jolie went to some event or awards show or whatever with her brother, and gave him a lip-lock in front of everybody. Naturally, it was a big deal for about five minutes, until something else diverted everyone's attention.

This all started me thinking about the different ways people interact with one another during moments of greeting and departure. By the general standards here in the USA, lip-kissing of siblings isn't a very usual behavior. In other places, it may be more common. Where men in the States greet one another with handshakes, or maybe hugs, men in other countries might routinely greet one another with a kiss on the lips. One of the things I loved about my visit to Hungary was the kissing of both cheeks on greeting and departure. It is a sweet and loving thing. I not only did it with my family, but roped my friends into it as well. Everywhere we went in Hungary and in Paris, the double kiss was the norm, for everyone from a friend to a child or spouse.

The USA is geographically large, and customs are a bit like dialects - they vary from place to place. Take my oldest sister, Margit, for example. She has lived in Ohio for a number of years now, and the last time she visited us here in Colorado, I was surprised to learn that she had become a mouth kisser. All of a sudden my sister was puckering up and wanting to kiss me right on the lipses. It was rather foreign to me, but I did it while she was here because I love her. I know that our other sister, Liz, felt odd about it too, but again, it was something that only went on for a few days, and it made our big sister happy.

My friend Marie's mother, Alice, was also a mouth kisser. I am not sure if she was born there, but I know that she spent a lot of years living in Ohio. I became quite attached to Alice Faye (I love her movie-star first and middle names!) and eventually found myself accidentally calling her Mom. One look at her face told me that this was not a problem as far as she was concerned. She accepted me into her heart, and I was therefore in the kissing zone. When I rode with Marie to take her mom to the airport at the end of a visit, I was warned that she was a mouth kisser. She was a motherly figure, so it didn't bother me. I wonder, is it an Ohio thing? Perhaps my friend Rich, an Ohioan, can shed some light on the subject. If he doesn't know the answer off the top of his head, maybe he'd be willing to do some field research. Watching greetings and partings in the name of Anthropology? 

I'm curious about this subject. Greetings and partings are very personal, and can be very emotionally loaded moments. How do you feel about kissing? Not romantic kissing, that's not what this is about. Does your family greet with kisses, whether on lips or cheeks? How about your friends? Do you think your ways of greeting come from your family's country of origin, or do you think it's a local custom? Thank you in advance for any comments or insight that you might share. If I could, I'd give you all a kiss in gratitude. But maybe not on the lips...