Dropping off La Belle Fille at school she was met by her little friend and greeted with a kiss on the cheek. In France it’s not just the adults who greet each other with une bise, not teachers to children, but the child to child too.
It’s so innocent and sophisticated at the same time.
Unfortunately when it came to my first adult to child une bise I think I failed miserably. A little boy who’s an acquaintance of La Belle said hello and seemed to offer his cheek. Maybe it was the startled look in my eyes or my clumsy kiss on his cheek, but the next time we met he firmly offered me his hand to shake. I thought I was over being rejected by boys.
Sometimes in goodbyes too I’ve heard the expression “Bises” called to a departing back. I don’t think I’ll ever get the nerve to nonchalantly call that, except perhaps en famille.
It’s not just la bise that has my head in a whirl either; salutations in general are still giving me a problem. I’ve finally got used to saying “bonjour” to shop assistants before I continue with my request, but am failing miserably in other situations.
When we go to mass the priest welcomes everyone not at the door with a nod and a hello, or even just the British shy nod, but goes to each person saying hello and shaking their hand. Unfortunately myself and my family arrived at mass this week flustered; battling with the pram through an ancient church door, trying to stay quiet with a four and a half year old and a 22 month old whose going into her terrible twos (and demonstrating this by shouting angrily all the time). It wasn’t until after we sat down that I realised that the poor priest had approached us and we’d basically bustled by him! We must have looked so rude!
Then in the hairdressers I said hello to all the ladies working that, was shown my seat and sat down happily. It wasn’t until a little while later that I realised when another lady came and greeted everyone around her that I hadn’t done the same. I’d done the shy British smile to the woman next me, but no hello!