Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Manners plus a third

I would like to start this entry with a quote I heard recently:

"Update ya grey mattah, cuz one day it may mattah." This little turd of wisdom was uttered by Del the Funky Homosapien. I think it is especially important for today's youth, as America slides further down the global youth intelligence scale. Peru has a higher literacy rate than the USA. Just kidding. But for all the money we have, we could try spending it on improving education. Or healthcare. Or the environment. Anyway....

I have often wondered-even before this strange ride into Europe-what cultures traditionally kiss cheeks when greeting. It is a delicate, formal, and disarming way to welcome someone. Cultures that kiss do not also hit. Actually, that isn't true at all. Personally, I have enjoyed kissing the cheeks of many different women of all ages; when else would this experience present itself without a short-but meaningful-trip to jail and a fine?

You will see pompous, blueblood soccer mom's air-kiss each other's cheeks in many countries. I believe it came from England, straight out of "Absolutely Fabulous". Czech's kiss twice, once on each cheek. This is my preferable method. Both cheeks, confirming equal smoothness. Only once is strange, because you can't be sure if they think it is supposed to be twice. But when you have established the one-cheek kiss with someone, it is absurd to try a double without warning. Teeth could be lost, faces lost. This is the theorized reason that the Japanese bow. Yep, they want their teeth.

The Russians also do a double cheek kiss. I know few Russians, but it is nice with them. Their kisses are full of purpose and deliberateness. The French give three kisses when it is formal and special, and two for normal times. The Dutch do once. But they get naked a lot (I've heard).

It is better than a handshake, but worse than coitus. Anyway, I like it because it is classy and new for me. That = good, these days in this paused explorer's life.

***

The last of the top three places I would like to see is Portugal. Luckily, I am almost definitely going there at May's end. Portugal is among the more culturally hidden in Europe. We don't know much about these Portugese, except that their language is dead sexy. A hot mix of French, Spanish, and, well Polish(?), the Portugese language is quite old: the Kingdom of Portugal was recognized in 1183. Henry the Navigator, son of King João, who was not only a semi-fanatical Catholic, leading Crusades in Spain and Africa, but he developed the first European maps of the Americas and Africa in 1424 (umm, that 70 or so years before America's first slave-trader, Columbus, hit the shores accidentally.)

I have Portugese ancestors. I like to think of that family line as this outrageous group of crafty smugglers and cavorters, lips red every evening with rich wine and spices; they were probably as bland as all of us. But I'll go there and find out anyway. Y'know-redden those lips.

(God, if the cats there don't whine as much as Vincent here, I'll be thankful. I don't think they cut his balls off right at that crazy Czech slaughterhouse disguised as a vet. I didn't go, but there is apparently less blood on the butcher's apron.)

So there it is: Romania, Slovenia, Portugal. Sounds pretty good to me. It's nice to keep on the pulse of things, but I need to jump off of it for about 8 hours right now. Dobrou noc.

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