My First Guy Kiss
Now there's a title that will freak my dad out.
I love it when I encounter something about a culture that absolutely takes me by surprise. The type of cultural thing that hits me like a ton of bricks. One that no one had ever told me about or that I had read about. Just total surprise and I'm left there trying to figure out what just happened.
Well I had such an experience the other day when hanging out with a cool group of Argentineans.
Thanks to Couch Surfing, I had been in Comodoro Riviadiva, Argentina for a matter of hours before I was instantly integrated into the culture and was having sandwiches with a strong group of friends in their house.
At first, I was pretty quiet because I'm still getting used to the Argentinean Spanish accent (which is really thick to my ears). So most of what they were saying was pretty incomprehensible.
But they started asking me questions and after asking them to repeat everything they said, we started up a conversation. It was a good conversation too - not a bunch of superficial crap, but real conversation. I felt like I really got to know them.
The group of friends was so similar to my friends in the States. Well, at least they hung out the same way. We were just chatting it up at someone's house with some food. One girl reminded me of Ashlee because she kept tripping over stuff and knocking over glasses, but she was an awesome host and made sure everyone was taken care of - just like Ashlee does.
I told her that she reminded me of a friend back at home because of how she was acting and she said, "Why, because I'm always knocking over stuff?" I don't know how she guessed.
Her boyfriend Paul was tall and skinny and wasn't saying much. Just like Ashlee's boyfriend Matt! I love you Matt. ;) He eventually started speaking up when I began asking questions about how to say certain things in Spanish.
We talked for a long time and time flew by. We started heading back home around 3AM. All five of us packed into a little two-door car and they dropped me and Tamara off at my Couch Surfing host home.
I went up to Paul to say goodbye the typical "good friend guy-to-guy" way. You know what I'm talking about - the whole, grab your hand to start a handshake and bring it in for a hug while still gripping the hand.
When I went in for the hug part, the dude kissed me on the cheek! I was like "WTF!?" (I just thought that, I didn't say it. And even if I had said it, he wouldn't have understood it anyways.)
I was caught completely off-gaurd. This dude just kissed me on my cheek. I could feel his stubbly beard on my face and everything. [Shutters.] Something about that just doesn't feel right at all.
I thought that maybe he was confused and he assumed that that was part of my culture or something and he was just trying to make me feel at home. I was trying to think of some valid reason - any valid reason why a dude would want to kiss another dude on the cheek like a woman.
After they all left, I asked Tamara if it was normal for guys to kiss each other's cheek and she said that was normal around here. I'm just glad that it's not normal to kiss on the mouth.
It may be normal around here, but I sure ain't going to volunteer for it.
In some countries (too lazy to look up which ones) men who are friends walk around holding hands. You might want to watch out for that too.
I have had, also, several western girls kiss me on each cheek, mostly from Italy and France. I like that cultural aspect. I feel Americans should give up their space issue concerning greeting and goodbye kisses.
ps I stopped freaking out after lunch
@Dad Powers: haha - thanks dad. Yeah, the first two times were super awkward. But now that I'm anticipating it and I know that the guy is not trying to come onto me, I've gotten used to it already.
I know that some Americans are really religious and homophobic, thus making them a bit too UP TIGHT about living life like it should be lived. It's all about appreciating people around you.
When I lived in Tunisia, me and my Tunisian friends were holding hands when walking in town. And when meeting and departing, 3 kisses on the cheeks was normal. Nothing homophobic about this at all.......it's just paying respect and saying that you appreciate the other person.
Are you a religious person Sammy?
I disagree with your argument that religious people are inherently homophobic. There are lots of religious people who are not homophobic and there are lots of homophobic people who are not religious. In fact "religious Christians" are commanded to greet each other with a holy kiss in the Bible (as my dad commented above).
I would argue that the awkwardness of the kiss came from my personal space feeling violated because of the culture I grew up in. That doesn't mean that that aspect of my culture is right, but it definitely threw me off.
But now I really like the kiss as a greeting for both genders - it's really such a wonderful greeting!