Faire la bise: Cheek to Cheek, X vs O

keep-calm-and-faire-la-bise
Equal or more intimate than a handshake, but less than a hug
A bit embarrassed and awkward, never have I “ air kissed” so many people before. Technically, quickly place one side of my cheek to theirs on both sides while simultaneously making a smooching or kissing sound with my lips.
My first week of work happened to be when there were many business people from all over Europe visiting my office. I’ve “faire la bise” before when I went on an exchange to Montreal, or with Latin friends back in Canada, but that was friends, not professionals.
“Hi I’m Hans on the sales team from Germany”, *bise bise* “Je suis Jean-Luc de Sales” “I’m Vicky on services from Hungary” *bise bise * The day was constantly being interrupted by quick introductions and bises.
Some noticed my hesitation as my hand rose for a familiar shake, but then I stopped myself. They probably placed me as the new intern, or just thought that I was awkward and instead shook my hand.
And awkward I was indeed. I could no longer confidently extend my hand for a firm handshake that I’ve perfected from interviews and exchanging peace in church. Self-conscious questions that went through my head as I took the plunge to place my cheek on others, first right, then left. What if my skin is dry? Or oily? What if my breath smells? What if I lean in too hard? What if I don’t place enough pressure on it? Did I just shake their hand AND do the bise? *forehead smack*
Too bad I didn’t watch this video before: English Subtitles
And because it’s new to me, I really noticed how people were- I  felt some cheeks that were warm, soft, and the prickly sensation of beards. I noticed that the women were more expressive with their smooches, where it was more audible, and the men more reserved.
It’s interesting that it’s an unwritten rule that women do “la bise” to everyone, while men mostly only do it to other women, and with other men only if they were more closely acquainted. While at first I didn’t understand how hugs were more intimate than la bise, I think now I understand. In terms of body contact, there’s just more with a hug. There’s more of an embrace. I’m starting to get used to la bise, getting practice pretty much every day, but at the same I’m beginning to miss hugs more.
So here’s a fitting way to end this post, Bisous (x) and lots ‘o Hugs OOOO
-Huong
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