Greetings and gaffes

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Why saying hello to people freaks me out.

I was recently introduced to a friend’s new lady. While I stuck my hand out for a shake, she leant in to kiss me and amongst the confusion I accidently grazed her right breast. Then I proceeded to apologise for the next five minutes and make an inappropriate joke about them being the second best boobs I’ve ever touched. This is why I shouldn’t be allowed to converse with others.

When I meet someone for the first time anxiety blooms inside me like an unwelcome flower. This feeling is not due to a lack of confidence or fear of small talk, it is focused solely on how we’re going to say hello.

Yep, that’s a significant fear I have, mainly due to my ridiculous reactions to the unexpected (as seen in the anecdote above). My mind flips through the rolodex of options as I am being introduced to the stranger. Do we kiss? Are they a hugger? Or a polite handshake? Maybe just a wave? Or a weird combination of them all?

I am not often envious of men, but in this arena, I am a significant shade of green. They go in for the handshake and that’s it! As a woman, I am faced with all these possibilities and it makes me need to pee.

This issue is not limited to meeting new people. I am from a European background and with that comes a whole other level of greeting… the double kiss. Don’t misunderstand me, I am fine with a double kiss! I am happy to do it. But some family members do it and some don’t. And there is no way of knowing until you’re in the middle of the hello and I inevitably make the wrong choice and cause a scene.

Just tell me what you want! Is that too much to ask? That way we can avoid the awkward laughter when someone accidently touches your breast and we can prevent the lingering cheek when one of you believes you’re going in for the double.

I don’t know what the solution is, but what I do know is that my nerves can’t take it much longer. Perhaps humanity can come together and create a universal gesture. Or maybe I should simply stay put and follow the lead of the other party (that’s probably easier than the whole universal thing) but then what I meet someone who is similarly stagnant?

Perhaps the answer is staying home and only meeting those with a pre-arranged greeting. I know my pizza guy would be up for that, we have our nod-hello-exchange pizza and money-thanks-bye down pat, it’s practically performance art.

As for everyone else, make the first move! Otherwise I will have an internal meltdown and choose to lead a hermit’s life.


Does anyone else feel this way? Surely I’m not the only  one…


Fi is a writer and editor for The Merry Go Round. She enjoys sunshine, singing in the car and viewing the glass as half full (of wine)