Could someone please explain the rules to this awkward phenomenon? When is it appropriate to greet with an air kiss and when is it not? If either of the parties involved is not ready for it or not expecting it, then the awkwardness ensues. It’s definitely not an Irish tradition but it has been around for a lot of years now. The boom years seem to have given it a life of its own.
As an Irishman when introduced to a lady for the first time, you stick out the hand, keep it simple. That’s fine but the problem starts when you feel yourself being pulled towards your new acquaintance. Do I go left or do I go right? Is it a kiss on the cheek or do you just make a noise like mwah? Do you touch cheeks or just go close? The cringe factor of this split second decision can stay with men for the rest of their lives. What generally happens is you both go to the same side and the resulting head butt can be heard all over the room. Next worse scenario is that she turns her cheek and your lips meet it smack on, but worst of all and god forbid that this may happen to you, you both stay down the middle and your lips meet. The latter has a knock on effect, it can result in wiping of the lips as if something revolting has just touched you. So after the head butt this could be a case of adding insult to injury.
Cringe has a mother and she is the deadliest of all. You manage to get away with the air kiss, you stand back, proud that humiliation has passed you by, but then it happens, your one kiss greeting doesn’t seem to be enough, you are caught completely off guard as your new acquaintance is coming at you again, this time with the other cheek. Aaaaagggggghhh, she’s going for the double. The resulting head butt can be heard all over the room, you look around, your glowing face pleading, ‘why oh why couldn’t you leave it at one?’ Where did the need for the double evolve from?
This problem in our society has at times reduced men to shaking, mumbling wrecks. I have seen it first hand. I have witnessed men waving after an introduction from two feet away. ‘If she doesn’t have my hand, she can’t drag me in’, kind of reasoning.
Funerals can be another near breaking point for Irishmen. The queue to offer condolences is getting shorter, you are making your way to the front. All the men in front of you are cheek kissing. Do they know her really, really well or is everyone doing it? There are two people in front of you now, the perspiration is gathering on your forehead, you look behind you, you see the terror in the eyes of another man, you both are looking for the exit. Then it’s your turn, you offer your hand, then lean in, but there’s no responding lean in. Aaagghh, you are in no-mans land. ‘Dear god, dig a hole and let me jump into it’.
Irishmen are a simple breed. We don’t enjoy complications. This kind of thing makes us nervous, uncomfortable, lets now just knock it on the head. We are not Continentals, we are not touchy, feely with strangers. Just let the handshake suffice. The only doubles we like are whiskey, we are Irish, lets not get all European. Take this as a health warning. Smoking damages your health. Air kissing can turn you into a gibbering wreck. You have been warned.