by Karen Cleveland
There’s nothing worse than someone giving you a kiss hello, thinking it’s over, and then they lean in for the double cheek kiss. You end up bumping noses or landing one right on the lips.
Can it be more awkward?
Are there rules? Goodness knows there should be. How close do you lean in? How long do lips maintain contact with cheek? Is there contact at the entirely too ubiquitous air kiss? Kiss on one cheek? Two cheeks? What side first?
It would seem that inelegance occurs when the kisser and recipient are on the fence about what is going to happen. If you’re going to go for the double kiss, do it with full conviction, so the recipient knows exactly where you are headed (literally). Typically, whether you’re serving up a single or a double, you start with the right cheek, because most people are right-handed and you’ll naturally lean in to that side. If you’re still shaking hands, maintain the grip. Or, you can rest your hand lightly on your co-kisser’s forearm, or shoulder (waist or chest territory can send a different greeting message all together: not always a bad thing). Whilst leaning in to kiss/be kissed, keep the contact very light (really more of a cheek graze than a full smooch) and if you like, offer a ‘how are you” or “nice to see you” to soften the interaction. The “mwa, mwa” sound is a bit Fran Drescher for me, but I digress.
If you offer your hand to shake with a softened elbow, it’s more inviting to be pulled in for a cheek peck. A firmer, more extended arm puts more space between you, and is less kiss-friendly – and if that’s your comfort zone (hello, flu season), stay right within it. You’re certainly not obliged to give or receive a kiss.