I have pretty much just been a walking cultural blunder lately. It's not really even all cultural, it's more of how I am mixed with a third world culture and a language barrier--INAPPROPRIATE.
Prime example of the day:
We went to visit our favorite neighbors (little Sophie's house that I have mentioned in previous blogs) and were quickly surrounded with scores of children. We proceeded to greet all of them that crowded around us and then I made my way into the yard to greet the elderly women seated on the ground, who are culturally not expected to rise for visitors and are to be greeted by a youth (me) on her knees.
We shook hands and then I came to one lady and she pointed to her cheek. I smiled at her and leaned in to kiss each side of her face which is customary in this culture.
I "kissed" the side she was pointing to (just kind of the kissing gesture) and then went to the other side, touched her cheek with mine and made a kissing sound.
I came up for air and she was still pointing to her cheek and tilting it up towards me, so I thought geeeeeeeez that wasn't even good enough, I have to ACTUALLY kiss her.
So I laid one on her.
A full contact, awkwardly yet sufficiently-prolonged, cheek kiss and as I pulled away I noticed her cheek was swollen to about four times the normal size.
She was trying to tell me she had a toothache!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HUGE cultural/situational blunder. Needless to say, all of the other women and Sophie got a reasonably sized kick out of my mistake. What can I say I'm a jokester, sometimes I'm just not aware of it.
You never know...one minute you're kissing old ladies and the next minute you realize she does NOT want the kisses, she just wants some Tylenol.