Nieuws - 20 september 2012

Cheek kiss or hand-shake?

Last week during a bicycle trip I bumped into a Dutch acquaintance; it was a typical embarrassing moment that I have had more often in the Netherlands.

Men-men kissing is still beyond my acceptance.
'Hey Derek!' I heard someone calling me. It turned out to be Clara and her 80-some mother. 'Hey,' I replied loudly. We came closer and I knew what I was supposed to do next. But when we got close enough, after an eye contact less than half a second, in the next half second I dropped my original plan, took a breath and then merely managed to ask: 'How are you?'
What made me feel embarrassed? She's not my old flame (too senior to be); actually she's the neighbor of Cato and Frits, the Dutch couple I cook dinner for every week. It did not seem difficult to make a Dutch enthusiastic cheek kissing. But I didn't perform such a sacred ritual witj a senior lady and her more senior mother because I was hesitating with my mildly sweaty forehead. I could feel the same reluctance from her. The air at the moment was just awkward.
I'd known the basic rules for the Dutch greeting gesture since my first day in Holland. In practice, however, the speed to switch the cheek, the strength to touch, the moisture of your face, all kinds of details bewilder me. And I find it more and more unclear in which occasion I should do cheek kiss and how to do it correctly. When somewhere coming across an acquaintance, pretending to be on the phone, thus, is my favorite tactic to dodge this physical contact, and it usually works. The only exception is being recognized like in the circumstance above, I've no idea how to respond. Cheek kissing or hand-shake, appears an everlasting puzzle for me.
Maybe I should turn to the student psychologist again for some advice. But before that, apart from always carrying my phone, I'd better prepare a bag of hankerchiefs to keep my face dry. Or you have any good tips, feel free to tell me 
Vid of the week I'm happy to know others have the same problem.