How Not to Kiss in Paris

“In kissing, some people were ripe, others were not. Whole groups could be off-limits. It definitely wasn’t appropriate to kiss your boss, except when it was, though it was correct to kiss your underlings, except when it wasn’t. Young men generally didn’t kiss other young men, unless they were friends outside work. But older men did, sometimes. You never knew. Also, these kisses were intended not to touch the cheek but to glance it. People kept their eyes locked on the middle distance and seemed, while kissing or being kissed, very bored. Honestly, I had no idea how it worked. September found me frequently biseing inappropriately. Male clients, IT support workers, freelance temps. Any female who came within ten feet. They’d return my weird kisses reluctantly, or else back away and attempt to ignore the gaffe. I asked Pierre how he knew whom to kiss, whom not. Pierre said there was no way of knowing this unless you’d grown up in France, then you just knew. He himself preferred to shake hands. André overheard Pierre saying this and suggested, in that case, Pierre should move ‘the fuck’ back to New York.”
Do you dream of moving to Paris? Think again. (An excerpt from Rosecrans Baldwin’s Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.)