Surely we've all been there. You go to do the usual kiss-on-the-cheek routine but you each go the wrong way and then you're practically kissing each other's lips with your respective other halves watching in shock.
What? It's never happened to you? I need to get out there and practice some more kissing then.
So what it is with all this kissing then when it comes to greeting someone in Spain? How do you kiss, who do you kiss and when do you kiss? Today I'm going to try and answer this enigma.
The Spanish can be an overly friendly bunch of people at times. I have women coming up to me all day trying to kiss my face off. Well, not quite but I often wonder who "needs" a kiss and is it rude not to kiss? Let's take some different scenarios.
1. Someone you know
This is a tricky one because you can't kiss someone you know every time you see them. If I bump into the same person in the village five time in one day, surely I'm not expected to kiss in each of those instances? I think kissing your friends is fine at least once per day. The rest of the time you probably don't need to do it any more.
This one often intrigues me. I see the parents at the school gates collecting the kids. There is no kissing going on outside the school (well, at least not the parents). If afterwards I bump into one of the mum's that I know in the village then it's expected that we share some cheek time.
There is a definitely a time and a place for kissing.
3. Someone you don't know
I haven't quite fathomed this one out yet. I personally tend to go with whatever my "opponent" suggests at the time. Sometimes they extend their hand for a handshake (NOTE, it's not so that you pull them towards you for a kiss) other times they lean over for a kiss or two.
If in doubt let the other party take the initiative, especially if he or she is Spanish. It's second nature to them.
4. Someone non-Spanish
I met a Dutch lady recently who knows my partner, Susan. I really wan't sure what the etiquette should be in terms of our first encounter. Luckily she extended her hand out and I shook it before I had to decide what to do. I wondered at the time if it seemed rude that we didn't kiss. Saying that, the Germans and the French I've met have been very forthcoming in the kissing department, but not so much the British. Again, depends on the circumstances and how well you know them but if unsure, let them take the initiative.
Although we refer to these as "kisses" they are not really kisses as such. The idea is not to slobber over someone else's face and get all intimate with them. It's more of a brushing of cheeks with a little kiss in the air. I know, it sounds a bit naff but that's how it's done. You don't actually kiss them as such.
And one is not enough. Two kisses minimum, one on each cheek. Just let your Spanish friend dictate which side first!
I often wonder what I'm supposed to do with my hands during these brief moments of friendship. I know what NOT to do with them but sometimes people leave their arms down, so there is no touching at all, whilst other times they may just touch the other person's arm during the "routine".
The safest bet is just to leave your arms dangling down beside you as you can't do anything silly like that.
Men Kissing Men
Yes, men kiss each other too! It think they tend to be either family or very close friends but you do see it and they often have a big hug too. I don't tend to see many of the Brits around here doing that unless they've had a fair few pints!
I've probably made more of a deal about all this kissing lark than was necessary but I truly believe that this part of greeting etiquette never gets talked about, so I felt it was time to bring it out into the open.
What are you kissing experiences in Spain? Let us know by leaving your comments below.