It was a hot humid morning waking up in an unknown apartment in Geneva with my boyfriend. Let me be clear, the apartment was known to him but not to me.
We were heading over via EasyJet to the South of France to attend his cousin’s wedding that morning.
After boarding the plane it dawned on me that this would be the first time I would be meeting his family. And not just his parents and sister. His ENTIRE French family. I began to shake a little.
My French was appalling, I’d had little to no sleep and I’d just been through the time change ringer so my senses were all a tizzy. Oh and did I mention it was hot?
I expressed my uncomfortableness to him and he said not to worry. All I need to know is that in France they kiss on the cheek. Oh and they do this in Switzerland too but instead of the standard 2 kisses that the French give it’s 3 for Swiss people so his Swiss family will greet me with 3.
The questions came pouring out.
“Could you demonstrate how I should be doing this? Do we start on the left or right? What if we both go left and then we kiss on the mouth!??! Do we actually land our lips on their cheek or is it more of an air-kiss-cheek-bump? Do we grasp each others arms so we don’t fall into one another? Do I make a kissy sound? What about my breath? Does it stink? And my makeup? What if I accidentally get lipstick on someone? Should I wipe it off? What about sweat? Did I mention it’s hot out? Do the guys kiss each other? And if a French person and a Swiss person kiss, how many kisses do they give? What about germs? If someone has a cold do they not kiss? We don’t hug when we have colds. Is this whole kissing thing optional like when you can tell that someone isn’t really a hugger? NO?”
I wasn’t sure I was up to the task. Could we go back to the unknown apartment? Not only am I meeting his family for the first time but now this whole kissing thing is happening. It gave a new meaning to “all up in your face”.
Did I mention that they do this upon greeting and departing? Has anyone ever heard of a hug sufficing?
The plane landed and we were greeted by a couple of people in his family. I got to practice. It went not too poorly.
We arrived at the wedding. Smiles, kisses, some awkward cheek smashing, (hey, I’m new at this!) but I got through all 45+ family members. If you do the math, let’s say there’s 40 French people and 5 Swiss people so that’s 40 X 2 and 5 X 3 which equals 95 kisses I donned out. And then I got to do it all over again when we left.
I wonder if people in Europe actually account for the added time it takes to greet people for events like this cuz let me tell you, hugging is much more time efficient
This post was prepared in response to a RemembeRED prompt for the Red Dress Club. This week’s prompt was about affection. We asked you to write how the show of affection played a part in your memory.