The Cuban Way

When my mom was here, she went with Elena, Ellie and me to a friend's house. It was an early fourth of July celebration where many people were gathered. We parked the car, gathered all our belongings (which have quadrupled since the birth of Ellie) and we started walking toward the house. Before we reached the entrance, one of the many guests approached us to meet Ellie and my mom.

My mom went to greet her the way all Cubans are used to, with a kiss on the right cheek. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe it. "Mom," I said, "no one does that here. Just shake their hands."

"How strange," she mused. I used to think that way too, when I had just gotten here, but now I'm used to the way things are done. But I do still miss the Cuban way.

For the record, men don't kiss men on the cheek (unless you are father and son, or siblings), but women greet each other this way, and men greet women this way. It doesn't matter if you have known each other your whole life, or just met, this is the way we say hello and goodbye. It is polite and totally acceptable. And not just Cubans do this, but nearly, if not all, Hispanics. For instance, some months ago Elena and I were in Walmart and ran into a friend of hers and her husband. They are from Peru, and guess how she greeted us? With a kiss on the cheek. Guess how her husband greeted Elena? With a kiss on the cheek. It all felt like it was the most natural thing in the world.

What do you say everyone? Want to start this trend in Topeka?

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