Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Kiss Hello (Argentine version)

Just as Jerry Seinfeld tried to avoid kissing the neighbors of his apartment, I spent the greater part of my first couple weeks in La Plata avoiding the dreaded man-on-man kiss hello. I hadn’t had to deal with it before, being a tourist the last time I was here, but working puts you in more of an intimate environment in which the kiss hello is not just encouraged, but expected.

A couple of ground rules: if it’s a guy you just met, you generally shake hands; unless you’re a full-time kisser, like my boss Horacio. More importantly, between men, it’s NOT REALLY a kiss. It’s more like a head hug: you put your heads close together and make the kissy noise. This can obviously be altered for women or men you have a closer relationship with but to give somebody you don’t know more than the head embrace would just be, well, weird.

I'm still getting over the strangeness of the often stubbly action during the head hug, but the Argentines throw in a lot of back slapping and macho stuff to “man” it up. You ain’t seen nothing ‘til the two huge bouncers at the club demonstrate the “more than a kissy noise” version.

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