On the Couch with Jasminda



Do you have a pressing problem, annoying anxiety or community conundrum? Jasminda Featherlight, our resident roving Agony Aunt, is here to help. Jasminda will be responding to questions from our News Of The Area papers on a rotating basis. Send your concerns to Jasminda care of edit@mcnota.com.au and include your title, initials and suburb.

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Dear Jasminda,
I don’t feel comfortable hugging casual acquaintances, or cheek kissing for that matter, but at this time of year everyone from the neighbour to the fruit and veg delivery man seems to move in for a hug and kiss. What is the correct etiquette and is there any way to resist in a non-offensive way?
Mrs HK, Lemon Tree Passage

Dear Mrs HK
You have a fruit and veg delivery man? You don’t have to trawl through supermarkets for bruised and battered oranges from California or avocados that are already smashed due to over-squeezing, or rockmelon that’s as hard as a . . . well, hard as a rock, obviously. Hell, I’d not only accept a kiss from the delivery man, I’d invite him in for some fruit salad and a mojito with lime zest and mint sprigs straight from his delivery box. You are one lucky woman, Mrs HK.

Now, back to the hugs and kisses. I understand what you are saying. Some people feel very comfortable bestowing lingering kisses and great big sweaty bear hugs to all and sundry. Others prefer the more genteel air kiss, or they feign cultural superiority by giving attention to both cheeks, which is trés chic, trés tendance, trés à la mode (look it up, Mrs HK). Slightly more uncomfortable situations arise when you offer your right cheek (as is accepted protocol, I might add) and the person opposite misjudges or doesn’t know basic etiquette and you end up pashing your orthodontist. It is terribly uncomfortable, particularly if you are there for root canal therapy. I was extremely unnerved by my neighbour’s ‘welcome to the hood’ greeting until he assured me he was Maori. Now I can hongi like a professional (look it up, Mrs HK).

The main issue with the hug/kiss thing is when people want to hug and kiss your kids. This is completely unacceptable. Kids should never be pressured to kiss or hug Uncle Jim or Aunty Gladys or Harold down the road, or Santa for that matter.

If you are the kissee (I made up that word, Mrs HK, so don’t try to look it up) and the kisser moves in for a slobbery greeting, offer your hand instead and give a firm handshake (though not as firm as Mark Latham). Otherwise a few strong pats on the back can be enough to state your position. Remember, you are in control. If they still don’t get the hint, cross your arms in front of you and say, ‘Back off, you predatory worm, you segmented parasitic creature belonging to phylum Annelida and subclass Hirudinea.’ That should be understood in any language.

Carpe diem,

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