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Are you going to kiss 50 people? Are you crazy?

We had arrived at my godmother’s birthday party and, of course, the first thing I did after walking into the house was to greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek. After going around kissing about 45 cheeks, he looks at me pleadingly. What does he want? Is he trying to tell me something? His face went from puzzled to smiling to puzzled again when it hit me: Chris was aware that the standard greeting in Peru was a kiss on the cheek; however, he never imagined it also applied to one-hundred-people parties. After kissing more than 50 women on the cheek, he  looked exhausted, and in disbelief that there were still many more cheeks to be kissed.
“In London, if there are more than 8 people, you don’t give a kiss on the cheek to everyone. I can’t believe we’ve just kissed all those people!”, he said.
I hadn’t stopped to think that the low-profile kind of guy who runs away from the spotlight would have avoided this situation at all costs. Had there been a back door, he would have used it without a doubt. It isn’t shyness, no, no. It is his analytical mind what makes being around too many people at a social event so awkward.
I was once told that people who are too analytical have a little voice that torments them with an infinite number of possible outcomes before, during and after interactions as ordinary as greetings. “There will be people you don’t know, but you’ll have to say ‘hello’ or they’ll think you’re being disrespectful. It’s your girlfriend’s godmother, and you need to make a good impression. So, a kiss on the cheek then, but what cheek? Should you kiss and say ‘hello’ or just kiss? What if you say something awkward, what if they don’t understand your Spanish, what if you accidentally kiss them on the lips?” And all this happens in a matter of seconds.
Apart from this seemingly painful mental process which analytical people are victims of, we also need to take into account cultural differences. Latin cultures are a bit warmer in interactions, and greeting others is a good example of such characteristic.
I speak for myself and the people in my surroundings, and this is the way we do it. Almost all my family and friends say ‘hello’ with a kiss on the cheek regardless of how many people there are at a party. I just can’t picture myself waving at my relatives or just smiling at them without making any physical contact.
And how do you greet people at a big event such as a wedding, gathering or birthday party? Do you kiss everyone, or do you prefer to wave at them?

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