DUE TO COLOSSAL stupidity on the parts of a couple of young relatives last March, I swore off the Latino custom of rampant kissing and hugging.
I had never liked it in the first place.
Some will remember my post on the matter in April. In brief, this is what happened: The two young relatives nudged their toddler in my direction one evening to give me a goodbye kiss, which she did. Seconds later, they revealed they were on their way to a doctor’s office because they suspected the child might have chickenpox.
And she surely did.
I have never had chickenpox, a very contagious affliction that is serious business to adults and even graver (pun intended) for elderly adults, which I am. I then sweated bullets the next three weeks, the time it normally requires for chickenpox to appear after one is exposed. Luckily, I did not get sick. I have since been vaccinated.
I was mad as hell and immediately decided to opt out of the kissing custom. Obviously, the locals cannot be trusted. Gotta bad cold? No matter. Kiss. Got the flu even? No matter. Kiss. Got the bubonic plague, leprosy? No matter. Kiss. One who does not live in a Latino nation cannot grasp the power of this idiotic custom.
You do it. No matter what. Or you are rude and cold.
Well, I ain’t doing it no more. And I have not since March, and I won’t in the future.
When I announced this decision to relatives here on the mountaintop, I was met with both surprise and amusement. The crazy Gringo. The one relative I thought would have the most trouble with my decision is my child bride’s sister who owns the coffee shop downtown where I hang out a lot.
I had to kiss her a hundred times a day, or so it seemed.
She is extremely traditional and provincial to boot. But after a day or two, surprisingly, she was okay with it, and now we throw air kisses on seeing one another the first time each day, or we just wave and smile. I do the same with the rest of the kin.
We also have relatives in the nearby capital city and in Querétaro farther north. Those folks do not know of my smooching decision, and I’ve yet to encounter any of them since the chickenpox scare. Since I rarely see them, I likely will just kiss them and be done with it, which will be easier than explaining it all.
But I am enjoying my new, kiss-liberated life. I’m not a kissy person anyway. The only person hereabouts whom I want to kiss is my wife. Nobody else.
So this is working out fine.
If you see me, do not expect a kiss. But I will shake your hand.
If you don’t have chickenpox.