I’m fascinated/riveted by the awkward party kiss.
You know what I mean? You’re at a party. Maybe it’s a BBQ. Maybe it’s a reunion. An office gathering. And there’s someone you sorta kinda know of the opposite sex.* Perhaps someone you went to high school with long ago. Someone you semi-recognize. And there’s this moment—both of you are aware of it—when you’re uncertain whether to lean in for a cheek kiss, or to merely nod or shake hands. So one of you begins to stick out your hand as the other leans in a cheek.
I attended two—yes, two!—parties yesterday, and the experience happened twice. The first didn’t involve me—I was merely a witness. There were two women. One was a classmate of mine from high school, one wasn’t. But the classmate probably assumed the woman she didn’t recognize was a classmate she, well, simply didn’t recognize. The other woman, however, was merely a spouse of a classmate, and therefore knew nobody. Yet the classmate, not wanting to be rude, offered a joyful HEY! and leaned in for a kiss—even though she (rightly) had no clue of the identity of the woman she was about to kiss. Helpless, the non-classmate needed to pretend she was happy to see the classmate, and leaned in for a kiss.
Then they parted and never spoke another word.
Later in the day, I was at a BBQ hosted by my wife’s cousin. I knew many people there, because we live only, oh, eight miles apart and our kids go to the same pre-school. Anyhow, there was one woman who I see every single day at the pre-school. Yet besides Hi and Bye, we rarely converse (this is no slight; just the way things happen). So when I see her at the party, she gives my wife a kiss, and then, as I’m extending my hand, she leans in to give me one. So I lean in, lean back, lean in again and, doh!, smooch.
Honestly, the whole thing confuses me. I’m sure I could just save myself bundles of awkwardness by kissing everyone, but that’s sorta gross. If a stranger is kissing me cheek, that means she’s kissing 800 other cheeks, too. Which means I’m also kissing 800 other cheeks.
* This only applies to men. In other words, men don’t have awkward kiss moments with other men, but women do with other women. Yet another reason it’s better being a guy.