|My new hair!|
Anyway, now that you're caught up on my super exciting life I thought I'd address something that causes me daily confusion and often embarrassment: greeting Chileans. Like in many countries outside of the US it's custom to greet people with a kiss on their right cheek (ie you lean to the left and kiss them). But it's not just the first time you meet them, it's always. Best friends do this. Strangers do this. Co-workers do this. I'm so much more comfortable with an awkward wave or a handshake. Plus in the US, once you know someone, you don't ever really have to like 're-greet' them. A wave or a "Oh hey, what's up?" is acceptable.
As a result, I end up totally awkward because I never know if I'm supposed to kiss someone. Yes, I guess I could just assume always. But like, to me, when I walk into a party and everyone is sitting in a circle, do I need to walk around and kiss each person? Also, you're supposed to like say your name when you greet the other person, except no one can ever say my name at first and then it's this awkward thing of "Should I pronounce my name like it's pronounced in English or like Chilean's pronounce it?" (You should see my when I order food). Anyway, back to the party-greeting scenario. Yes, it is appropriate/expected to greet every. single. person. Actually, its rude not to.
Another dilemma I find myself in is "What do I do about the gringos?" I have a number of gringo friends/acquaintances from outside of my program here and I never know what to do when I greet them. Usually it's an awkward combo of "Oh hey what up?" and a cheek kiss. Because I think we mutually acknowledge that it's confusing and awkward.
Also did I mention that you have to repeat this entire awkward sequence when you say good-bye? Even if it was only like a 2-minute conversation?
Despite all of this, I've decided I actually like the cheek kiss. Why you ask? Why would something that makes you confused and awkward on the regular actually be a good thing? One of my Chilean friends explained it best. When we gringos greet each other, it's sort of "cold" even when they're best friends. We don't like to touch, it makes us uncomfortable. Chileans on the other hand are totally comfortable and I admire that. Also, how many times have you arrived at a party and not known anyone and spent the whole time awkwardly trying to remember names/not knowing if you should introduce yourself? This whole cheek-kiss thing solves that. And, when you say good-bye to your friends, instead of just waving, you get to embrace 'em. Cuz you love them. And expressing affection is totally acceptable.
Until next time, chao pescao!