Friday, January 13, 2006

Kissing with confidence

At a recent party in Jumeirah, the delicate issue of etiquette came up in conversation, particularly when it comes to kissing. Is it one, two or three kisses? The wrong guess can leave a girl lunging into thin air, or avoiding a prematurely proffered cheek. After years leaving here in Dubai, the standard formula seems to be: 1 = Dubai new blood, usually a reserved Brit; 2 = Dubai native; 3 = Lebanese or hot-blooded Spaniard.

And what about the degree of proximity of the kiss? Cheek? Millimetres away? Just a gesture inches away from the face? Or, in my case with Tall Paul, about a foot away from his head despite being on tiptoes and platform shoes at the time. In the mega-diverse Dubai of today, all rules seem to have gone out of the window, particularly thanks to an increasing number of PR bunnies - mwah mwah - and UK chavs, who seem to slobber over anything that moves.

So, over to etiquette expert Philip Howard, writing in The Times. He says: There is no "correct" custom, just custom. In my observation, British females are almost as enthusiastic kissers as the French, though perhaps a little less elegant at the performance. The British simulated "Mwaagh, Mwaagh," is Charlene and naff. But whether in Middlesborough or Marseille it is good manners to let the lady lead. Boy scouts: girl guides.

Let the ladies also select which cheek to start with. In London the left cheek first is favoured by about 63 per cent of kissers. The number of kisses is also best left to the female. One is cold. Two kisses are regular. Three or more are a bit continental.

Of course, Mercy had to have the last word. "For me, it's on the lips or nothing these days - cheeks are so 2003."


Blogger secretdubai said...

I absolutely fking loathe greeting-kissing, except if it's my close family or my partner.

I do it, but I think it is loathesome. Next time we meet, let's not do it. It's just pointless and pathetic.

Good old British frigidity is definitely the dignified and more comfortable way to meet.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous pamela said...

Here in Quebec the french kiss twice. Touch cheeks for sure and always left to right. Never 3, that is just for when your French European guests arrive.

Can't go to the grocery store without having to kiss someone. Standard greeting here, even if you just saw the person yesterday. And don't forget another one when you say goodbye.

Total space invasion for me and I never get comfortable with it.

2:37 AM  
Blogger snow white said...

I have to admit, I like it. I don't kiss everyone, but find it an easy way of showing affection to male friends particularly, without resorting to quasi-rugby tackle hugs.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So funny...

I dread the "kissing" when I move to Dubai in a few weeks. I come from the quite reserved South (in the USA) where kissing in public is just offensive and weird, even if it is on the cheek. It's way too familiar a gesture for a standard greeting.

I've been to Dubai/Middle East twice, and the constant kissing really bugs me...and I'm always so awkward with it. I really, REALLY hate it.

10:32 PM  
Blogger BD said...

My friend thought what was wrong with me when I kind of instinctively shrugged when he tried to hug me to wish Happy New Year. I had to spend a half-hour explaining American sensibilities. At an airport I said, I might hug someone good-bye, but even then I feel self-conscious.

10:40 AM  

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