I use to work at a pretty popular nightclub in the 90's. I managed the place with my brother (the one who always comments here as Anonymous). He was the big Mahoff and I was the little Mahoff. Besides the day to day operations we both worked the front door on most nights as, for lack of a better description, glorified greeters.
We greeted everyone. Frome Hollywood movie stars to hookers, from Atletes to the bus boys who worked at the local restaurants. We treated everyone the same. The club had a very large Italian clientele as well and we soon both learned the European greeting of kissing both cheeks of the guest. Including the male customers.
It usually went something like this. The guest would walk to the front door and upon seeing me or my bother would raise his arms as if waiting for a hug and would say "YO, How you doin? This place bumpin tonight? Or what?" The guest would then lower his hand to shake my hand and then hug me with the other arm and then kiss both of my cheeks. I would kind of make the kissing noise to both of his cheeks and then the person would enter the club.
At first, it was uncomfortable, since we were Irish boys from the suburbs and somewhat out of our element, but after a while we got used to it.
My brother and I must have done this European gretting at least 150 to 200 times a night. 4 to 5 nights a week.
After doing this for about a year my brother took a night off to go out with his wife and another couple they had not seen in a few years. My brother, out of habbit, greeted the husband of the other couple by hugging him and kissing both of his cheeks.
Apparently the guy was little freaked out by my brother's affection.
I keep thinking of this story because my 20 year reunion is next week.
I see my group of friends about every two months. When I see some of my guy friends I still give them a handshake and a "Bro Hug".
When I see my female friends, sometimes it is a kiss on the cheek, and sometimes it is a hug. But most times we do that awkward dance of where they lean in for what appears to be a kiss on the cheek. And so I lean in to return the kiss to their cheek but then realize they were just leaning in for a hug and it becomes an awkward moment of suspended animation. I have a split second to figure out if I should stay committed to the kiss on their cheek and end up kissing their ear. Or change direction and give them the half hearted hug. It freaks me out all the time. And part of me knows that it freaks them out too. I think Ali and L Mac know what I am talking about.
Recently, I made the decision that I would just give my female friends a kiss on the cheek. It is easier. They do not have to stand to greet me, if the are already seated and I can just lean in and give them a peck. But some of them are still huggers and awkwardness continues. But now I am committed to the kiss and can stay on target.
But now with the Reunion around the corner I know that I will be seeing people I have not seen in 10 years. Some of them were people I was very close to both men and women. Are they huggers? Kissers? Or are they just firm handshakers? I can see many awkward moments happening. I need to come up with an official greeting.
What are you? A hugger? Kisser?