It’s no secret that New Englanders have a reputation for being, well, a bit stand-offish among strangers, friends and even family. A girlfriend of mine from high school, who was and continues to be an old and very dear friend hates hugging, for example, and gives the most awkward, shocked pats-on-the-back if a more demonstrative friend dares to embrace her.
Call it my puritan roots, but I’m all about personal space, especially when being approached by a stranger. Imagine my surprise when, here in London (where ladies and gents tend to be equally remote, or even perhaps more remote than their colonial counterparts) business colleagues of my acquaintance leaned in to faire la bises upon greeting.
I acted like my friend from high school, embarrassed, shocked and awkwardly touching my cheek to theirs as we “kissed” hello. I’ve noticed that, even in business environments, women almost always faire la bises with well-known colleagues, male and female. (Men greet other men by shaking hands). If you were meeting someone for the first time, you would (mercifully) shake hands, no matter your gender. But once the business relationship is established and moderately friendly…POW! You’re on kissing terms.
I’m slowly acclimating to this overly intimate-feeling point of etiquette! I dread the thought of accidentally bumping faces!