‘Tis the season to be jolly so please kissamee quick.

2014-12-16 08:09

Blitsbokke you beauts. Rolene Strauss you beauty. My heart puffs with pride at being South African right now. When we do things well, we do them oh-so-very well. We’re such hearty people, us South Africans. Rowdy, robust, resilient, worthy winners and some of us…well… just exquisitely beautiful.

As Saffa patriots far and wide,  we’ve rallied together in a collective glow whilst momentarily forgetting the not so proud political stuff, Nkandla and some of the recent court rulings. Good news is glorious news and as it’s the festive season lets just leave those things where they belong and focus on the fabulous, the festive and the fun.

Ho ho ho, 'tis indeed the season to be jolly with Christmas next week and plenty of parties and ceremonies in full swing. Calendars filled with happy gatherings and ever-popular summer weddings. Comings and going, hello and goodbyes, beautiful celebrations that all have one thing in common...

The direct, face to face, lips to lips, South African styled KISS!

Rowdy, robust and resilient – in the true sense of the word but it seems we’re one of the few countries that still partake in this heady custom, and even then it could be a dying practice. That’s if watching the youth of today is anything to go by as it seems they prefer the fist pushing, hand pumping and thumb locking greeting, as brothers in arms all done in a kwaito sway and with heita howzits. Like some ritualistic mating dance…and maybe it is.

According to credible sources kissing is a complex behaviour that requires significant muscular coordination involving a total of 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles. Its also right up there in your face and can leave you either nonchalantly and happily greeted or trying to discreetly turn your back to wipe away residual strings of spittle.

Maybe the latter is why many around the world have chosen to leave the lips and take on other forms of wordless greetings. As I presently live in a country which hosts more than 200 different nationalities, the basic interaction of greeting can be confusing, if not highly awkward, sometimes bordering on licentiousness but mostly downright embarrassing.

The Americans are cool. They hug. Which takes on a life of its own from an A frame, front facing, bum-stuck-out posture and gentle tap on the back to a wholehearted embrace with a good few serious klaps around the shoulders. Then there’s the moral hug…. heaven forbid that body and boobs touch at a time such as this. So it’s a sideways shuffle, one arm around the back and a halfway hip hustle, barely touching, all the while looking straight ahead and never, no, never making eye contact. Over and done in a second. Phew!

As much as hugging is a common greeting in the States, French people almost never hug. They kiss and if you think I’m going to go into the intricacies of the sexy smooch that goes with the nations name, I’m not. Use the Internet for that. French kissing excluded, they, along with other Europeans prefer the cheek-kiss greeting. This too has sub-sections as sometimes the lips make contact with the cheeks and other times it’s a vague, pretend movement of vinegar-puckered lips and a lot of hot air. This can be a once off lurch or a prolonged head bobbing motion of one cheek, one kiss, the other cheek another kiss and sometimes even and third or forth kiss kiss kiss – one on the left and three on the right. By the time you’re done with this ritual you’re likely to have banged heads, be exhausted and ready for rest, never mind the life and soul of the party.

In some places in the Middle East it is customary for men to greet each other by rubbing noses whilst it’s a total breach of protocol for a Western man to shake the hand of, or even vaguely touch a local lady in any way. Ladies can greet each other cheek to cheek and do so most enthusiastically.

It takes the recall of an elephant to remember the correct kissing etiquette and most times I don’t. This has resulted in many an embarrassing situation of an innocent greeting turning into a horribly skewed mouth mess with both parties recoiling in horror and the remnants of bright lipstick left perfectly placed on an earlobe or the end of a nose. Hardly the way to keep friends and please people.

What to do… as greetings, in whatever form are an expected and appreciated part of every day life. Perhaps we should borrow and follow dogs arc-like greetings as they circle and sniff one another’s butts to gauge intention, break the tension and then bound off wagging their tails. Rugby players already do this, maybe unintentionally, on the field, but I wonder if we can get Miss Strauss to start a new trend?

I leave you with that thought and warm wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a gloriously good New Year. And if you and I happen to pass each other in Johannesburg or East London airports over the festive season, please feel free to stop and kissamee quick!

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