I did not come from a family of kissy people. When we greet each other or bid farewell, a simple "hello" or "bye" will do. It is simply not our way (or is it just me?) to passionately express ourselves. I can't even remember the first hug my mother gave me. Maybe it was when I left for college?
Since I moved to the United States in my youth, I've had to climatize myself to a whole host of new embraces. Women squeal with delight when hugging each other; men bump chests, high five each other, or slap each other's gluteus maximus after scoring an especially thrilling touchdown or hitting a home run.
Because I've made a number of French friends in the past few years, I've had to get use to kissing. Don't get me wrong, it is lovely to receive kisses from French girls. We've kept it simple with just a small peck on each cheek. But I'm also told that in France, it could upgrade to three or even four kisses depending on the region. I look forward to sorting out that mystery when I get there.
My most awkward moment - dinner with a group of South Asian Muslims at their home in Portland, Oregon.
It started out as a business meeting because they disagreed with the Israel policy of a certain Congressman I worked for. After being on the receiving end of their anger for over an hour, they rolled out a luxurious dinner and invited me to stay. During the meal they were warm, kind, and wanted to know everything about my interests, my background, and my family's health. However, when they introduced their wives and daughters to me before the meal started, I idiotically extended my hand to greet them.
STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!
At least they invited me to return to join them in the annual Intel vs. Microsoft cricket match - mind you with tea and not pints (there's another questions - how does one sit through a cricket match without a few pints or a flask?).
Argentina is constantly on my mind now. As I struggle to stay awake at the office or do my school work, I remind myself the freedom I have to gain next year.
I wonder what new cultural adventures I'll have next year?