Sunday, March 11, 2007
There was an awkward moment the other day as I tried to leave a friend's housewarming. The theme of the party was officially 'South American' but most of the people there were wearing Hawaiian shirts. A Bruce Springsteen cover band (one of the band members also lived in the house) were playing Beatles tunes and most of the guests were attempting to play various objects as instruments. I was due to get up at four in the morning so I had decided to leave early, at around eleven o'clock. As I bid my adieu to Miss B and leaned in to kiss her goodbye she backed off. 'Not on the lips,' she informed me.
'Since when?' I asked, a little bit baffled.
'Since when? Since always.'
'Are you high?'
Now, because what I write here is from my point-of-view, I can only recount how I remember things, skewered as they generally are. Two years ago, when Miss B returned from London, we had caught up to recount gossip and she had left a kiss on my lips after our chat. Since then I had generally assumed that that is how the relationship was when it was time for departure. Being a bar guy for about a decade it is generally not unusual for male and female staff (and better yet, female and female staff) to plant platonic kisses on each others lips. It's cool. It's like a different level of friendship.
The equivalent of the kissing-friends-on-the-lips thing, to translate it into guyspeak, would be on par with being able to call a black guy a 'nigga' without it being meant to be offensive. And they in turn would be able to call you a washed-up child molester without meaning you any ill will either. But its a scary step. Make a racist comment too early on in the relationship and you may face a savage beating. Or a drive-by where his "homies" will "pop a cap in yo' ass" with his "nine". Fo shizzle.
Naturally, one can always go too overboard. Just because your friends are cool with being your nigga (or gook, or wop, or hebe) doesn't mean you can take the piss. Too often I will go into 'white plantation owner' mode and start demanding my black friends to pick cotton from the field and refer to them as 'Boy'. Which is going too far. It'd be like trying to stick your tongue down a friend's throat.