Donald Trump and Barak Obama have at least one thing in common. They both have experienced the awkward handshake. You probably have too, one way or another. Has your outstretched hand been blown off? Have you incorrectly anticipated a fist bump? Have you been held on to a little bit too long? Check it out, you’re in good company.
But as awkward as the awkward handshake is, it’s nothing compared to the awkward social cheek kiss. I’d take a dozen awkward handshakes if I could go a month without an awkward cheek kiss.
At least with the handshake, there’s a protocol about what hand you’re supposed to reach out with. I learned that lesson at a very early age, and most of the time, my handshaking goes quite smoothly.
But social cheek kisses? They blow my mind:
You go for the handshake, they go in for the kiss.
You lean in for the warm embrace, they go for the cheek kiss.
You go for the single cheek kiss, they go for the European Double or Triple.
Or, you both lean in for the social kiss, correctly picking the correct side, but they do a “mwah” air kiss (no cheek contact) making you feel like you are full of germs …and making them seem like ingenuous assholes.
And then, of course, all because there is no protocol for social cheek kissing, there are those many awkward moments when you both lean in for the cheek kiss, but you lean to the left, and he leans to the right and you end up bumping noses…or worse. Awkward.
And that happens to me all the time. I am truly a dysfunctional cheek kisser. I almost always pick the wrong side. You would think I would be right about 50% of the time, but I’d estimate I’m at about 30%. I pray a little every time before I lean in.
Many, many moons ago, when I was a real estate lawyer, I finished up a big deal for a long time client. We were beyond the handshake. When it came to say goodbye after the closing, we attempted a simple, social cheek kiss goodbye.
It failed. I went to the left…he went to the right. And yeah, it was really, really, really weird when we ended up kissing on the lips. It was so uncomfortable, I still think about it, decades later, and it still gives me the weebie jeebies.
When I know a cheek kiss is coming, I have performance anxiety. Inevitably, I go in to the left, then change to the right, then change my mind again all in the half second that it takes to lean in, confusing the hell out of the other person and making things terribly weird.
Especially when it is your best friend’s husband. Or your gynecologist. Or your rabbi.
There don’t seem to be rules around here for which way to lean in for the social cheek kiss. Why isn’t this something every mother should teach their child? For sure, Jews should teach their children: 1. Torah; 2. How to make a living; 3. Swimming 4. Social cheek kissing protocol.
In France, they go left, right, left.
In Spain, they go right, left, right.
What are we supposed to do with the single cheek kiss in the good old USA?
We don’t know, and that’s the problem.
So, BA50’s and everyone else out there that might happen to read this…let’s start a MOVEMENT to prevent nose bumping, unwanted mouth kissing and generally awkwardness.
I’m proposing we always GO LEFT (the righties already have the handshake, escalaters and driving).
GO LEFT: Teach your children, teach your parents, your friends, your loved ones.
GO LEFT will make for an awesome bumper sticker, don’t you think?
GO LEFT. I can’t wait to see Ted Cruz endorse it…but how could he not?
GO LEFT will make for a much better world. At least for me.
And when I see you next, please don’t GO RIGHT just to mess with me.
I don’t think I can take it.