The Unexpected Kiss

A while ago, Dan and I made plans to play some table ten­nis yes­ter­day.

It’s been a year since we went to the old recre­ation­al club. The venue changes every year, and this sea­son it was too much of a has­sle for me to go as it was buried some­where in the city. For Dan, the new venue was too far to be prac­ti­cal to go on a reg­u­lar basis.

When we arrived, there were all famil­iar faces. We greet­ed them with hand­shakes and how-you-doings. Yerka, from the Czech Republic, arrived when we were catch­ing up. Along with her Polish hus­band Andrei, Yerka was one of the new mem­bers last year. Andrei was on my league team, and even though I was cap­tain, Andrei was def­i­nite­ly the best play­er, with Yerka always there to sup­port him from the bleach­ers.

I extend­ed my hand to her, but in the European fash­ion she leaned in to kiss me on the cheek. I react­ed and adjust­ed for a kiss as well, but appar­ent­ly there’s a rule on which side to kiss first.

My friends and I nev­er faire la bise, and in my igno­rance, I went for her right cheek, she went for my left, and we end­ed up kiss­ing full on the lips.

Then prompt­ly laughed it off.


  1. Hi Jeff,

    I have been read­ing here for a month. I real­ly like your web­site and how open you are to the world. This piece is actu­al­ly quite fun­ny because Im from Europe(The Netherlands). Its all­ways fun­ny how this goes. But, at least not here, there is no rule on which side to kiss first. Its all­ways, ohh she kiss­es that side, then i’ll kiss the oth­er. It does tend to go wrong from time to time though. :P Really fun­ny.

  2. Thanks, Jaap. I try to be as open as pos­si­ble; it helps me learn and under­stand my thoughts and feel­ings. And being hon­est with oth­er peo­ple means first being hon­est with one­self.

    I think there’s a rule, or per­haps a cus­tom on which side to kiss first, and how many kiss­es in France. I’m pret­ty sure there is in Quebec as well. Funny how the dif­fer­ent cul­tures work. I remem­ber read­ing about how Burmese soci­ety does­n’t even have a word for kiss­ing, as it’s not a part of their cul­ture.

  3. I’ve had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence, although with a non-European. Awkward yet real­ly fun­ny.

    Interesting Burmese fact.

  4. When I win a com­pe­ti­tion, I have to kiss every rival’s dance part­ner so it became a rou­tine thing, at first, it was akward, but lat­er I found that it’s all in the set­up. I usu­al­ly open my arm and tilt my body towards the right first before I approach the girl for a “bec-sur-le-joue”.

    French (right cheek first, twice, one on each side) and Russians (3 times, alter­nate cheek) do this. I don’t know about England and German, we usu­al­ly just shake hands.

  5. What an inter­est­ing part of the cer­e­mo­ny. I’m guess­ing ball­room danc­ing has it’s roots in Europe.

    What about peo­ple from China?

  6. hee­hee­hee
    had that hap­pen before..
    and while liv­ing in europe, it was fun­ny to trav­el… because, where I lived in hol­land, the cheek kiss­es always total 3..but in france its 4 and in eng­land only 2…

    fun­ny story…bit of blush­ing too?

  7. That kiss­ing is alien to Burmese cul­ture?

  8. @amy — I’ve been find­ing out that it’s not just dif­fer­ent coun­tries, but dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­tries them­selves that have their own kiss­ing cus­toms. No blush­ing, but I was so ner­vous that it hap­pened, that I thanked her. Hahahah…I don’t know why.

    @guili — Ah, I thought you were about to con­tin­ue on a point, but then I read my own com­ment above.

Leave a Reply