Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Etiquette of a Social Kiss aka Beso Beso

Social Tips from me to you... learn and UNDERSTAND before attempting.

When you meet a person in Singapore, the first thing I notice is a usual non chalant. "Hey!" before the person sits down or goes on his/her way to do what they came to do.

Even when they part, its just a "Bye" and they depart without even an inkling of contact. Its cold. Especially between friends.

Rarely do I see a warmer greeting that is comfortably held in common context with the rest of the world. Or with the familiar greeting that I grew up with called the Beso Beso.

The word beso is Spanish for “kiss”. With spanish/filipina heritage, my sisters and I grew up meeting people we knew with a social cheek kiss or what we called a Beso Beso. It was normal and there was no squeamishness held around it.

Cheek kissing is “a ritual or social gesture to indicate friendship, perform a greeting, to confer congratulations, to comfort someone, or to show respect.”

In a cheek kiss, both persons lean forward and either lightly touch cheek with cheek or lip with cheek. Generally the gesture is repeated with the other cheek, or more, alternating cheeks. Hand-shaking or hugging may also take place. Depending on the situation, the number of kisses is one, two, or three.

Depending on the local culture, cheek kissing may be considered appropriate between a man and a woman, a parent and a child, two women, or two men. When you arrive, you kiss everybody hello. When you leave, you kiss everybody goodbye. Women kiss women. Women kiss men. Men kiss men. I still practice this form of greeting to those that I know find it socially acceptable and this would range from family to friends to even acquaintances that hold more western values or are the typical Ang Mos who have been exposed to this kind of greeting before and are known to me on a personal level.

I would not recommend this on a professional level of greeting where handshakes obviously are the better alternative.

I do have a few tips for novice social kissers when performing this kind of greeting. I have been horrified and amused in the course of the past few years *my eyes have practically rolled all over the floor after rolling in my head* but I would like those to know incase they "HAPPEN" to greet me.

  • Do not.... stick your tongue out when trying to social kiss. Its a greeting. NOT a bloody french lovers kiss okay! Even if you go past my mouth area, NO LICKING MY EARS or FACE!!! *My mom complained once of a relative who attempted to do a beso and he went past her cheeks and ended up SUCKING on her earlobe. Blllaaaaaaarrrghhhh!!*

  • Remember to offer to kiss the right check first before moving off to the alternate cheek.
  • Start off with a handshake, pull the person close to a hug where you bump shoulders and then attempt ur Beso.
  • If you want to start a beso, don't stutter and hesitate and swerve ur head left and right in hope of finding a side to begin. If you cannot begin on the right, then just start on the left lah!! Chin chai lahhh... *rolls eyes*
  • Don't give an ultra silent beso, make it a little exaggerated and go "Muuaaak!" or at least mutter some form of greeting like "Good to see you again" after doing the customary 1-3 or 4 kisses. Make it sincere.
  • Try to aim for the cheeks but do not end up kissing the person's ears/earlobes or neck.. If you miss accidentally and land on these places, just let it pass QUICKLY. Don't linger. But don't aim for these places on purpose, it sends shivers down the spine and makes it really uncomfortable for the reciever.
  • You have a choice of lightly touching your lips on the person's face or just kissing the air. Do what you feel more comfortable. Please do not lick ur lips before attemping a beso and SLOBBER all over the reciever. If you have slimey lips, dry it first.
  • Do NOT rub an oily cheek over the reciever. It just makes it icky and the reciever has to purposely wipe his/her face and it looks offensive instead of friendly. "Ewwww!!!"
  • If you eating, please make sure no food pieces are left on your face that would latch on to your recievers face. Nothings more embarassing to have a vegetable leaf stuck to your face after recieving a beso.
  • Make it quick. A beso beso should be done in under just a few seconds and not a long drawn out slow motion "Muuuuuuuaaaaaakkkkkkkk....* Get it over with QUICK.
  • End off looking directly at the person, smile and break off.

If you're a man, try this next time as an alternative. Even if you're not intending to woo the lady, I'm sure giving a kiss on her hand would be most chivalrous and surely send a shiver down our spine.. how princely would that be and how charming.... *I'm waiting... hehehehh....*

There you go... next time you meet or leave a friend. Make it a warm greeting/departure. After all, you have given them some time in your life to be present, whether they make a difference to your day/month/year. Time spent is already time passed. So why not make it a warm one?


Anonymous said...

As crazy as this might sound to you, this was very helpfull information to me. I'm from the mid-west and currently living in NYC. I never know how to do the cheek kiss. Now I do! Thanks.

Aka Pamela S. said...

Wow! NYC! :) I want to go there one day. Thanks for coming to my blog!

Anonymous said...

good article. It's light but informative. I googled "beso-beso" bcoz the act is a figure in a sexual harassment case. I can't figure out how it can be considered harassment because the way you described it is exactly what happened. No malice or sexual connotation involved.

Aka Pamela S. said...

Hi Anonymous, typically a beso beso is a greeting. But of course, kissing for the intention of invading a person's personal zone and offending them is another. :) I hope that case turns out well.