This whole going back to school thing has been incredibly stressful for me. Not because I'm sending my children off to spend their days with highly trained and strike happy teachers. No, it's been this whole bisous thing.
A bisous, as some of you may be aware, is the way the French like to greet people. You say, "Bonjour" and then you cuddle up to them and press your cheek softly against theirs and make that gently puckering noise often associated with kissing babies. Sometimes someone might give you a full on the cheek kiss as they might like to do and that's fine. Perhaps a bit wet, but fine all the same. Then, once you get one side done, you then have to do the same thing all over again on the other side.
Doesn't sound too complicated, now does it?
BUT, ALAS! Simple trickery once again! Just who does one give a bisous to? I've known the teacher for almost 8 years but the thought of giving her one has never crossed my mind. Then, there are the people I've known from school year to school year, who's children have caused all kinds of ruckus with mine for the last few years, and I'm scared I'll smack my nose against theirs as we say hello. Then, finally, there are our good friends, who's children I've feed and had sleep over. I'm almost sure I need to give them a bisous, but I feel so silly trying to kiss my good friend's husband.
To bisous or not to bisous, that is the question.
Good thing we got to school 15 minutes early yesterday so that I could bisous or not bisous the other parents and kids that were there. Luckily our Auvergne bisous is only one on each side. It must add a 1/2 hour to any group greeting in places where 4 is considered polite.
Yes, you see, because it is normal when you go somewhere where other people have also been invited (dinner parties, drinks etc) that you give a bisous to everyone who's there. Once again, I'm at a loss. Do introduce myself as I switch sides? What if I've got a cold? Do I have to bisous that man that smells like goat's cheese?
I will admit that this is where I flaunt my foreignness to the hilt. I show up behind my adorable cherubs and just smile like the village idiot. I wave at everyone, hug a few people, and then just yell "BONJOUR" to all and sundry standing there. There is a reason why I've cultivated this "airhead" thing as well as I have.
So at least I survived the dreaded rentrée bisous for this year. Now, I can go back to just kissing people that offer me wine.