Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my cousin’s wedding. I imagine that for a lot of people a family wedding would bring about sighs and apprehension, but as my family is so small this was a pretty big deal for us, and I was really looking forward to it. Indeed, I had a great time; I shed a tear during the speeches, bought shame to our dwindling numbers in my penchant for a drink, caught up with people I hadn’t seen for years and managed to befriend a child through a mutual dislike of people who spell our shared name incorrectly (It’s true, people that spell it ‘Ael’ are “bumheads”).
However, on one facet of the whole ‘meeting new people’ process, I came unstuck. How do you greet people these days? Job interview? Sure, shake hands. Fireman that’s just saved your kid’s life? A hug and innumerable kisses, I imagine. But what of all these people who I had never met before, but was now kind-of-through-marriage related to? Easy enough for the blokes of course; a firm hand shake and pat on the arm will suffice. But I’m a girl.
Searching for an acceptable ‘greeting’, I gave them all a whirl. I shook hands with the guitarist of one of my cousin’s former bands. Which felt ridiculous. I lent in for air kisses with someone’s auntie’s cousin’s wife (or whatever), and that felt forced. I hugged an old man in a clumsy ‘are we hugging, are we air kissing, oh now we’ve made contact we’d best follow this through’ way. Which was uncomfortable. I even tried simply standing there awkwardly and giving a pathetic and pointless little wave when introduced to one of the ushers. But that didn’t feel right either, because both he and I were obviously there to share my cousin’s special day with him, and as such surely the situation demanded something less rigid than that?
In the event, of course, most people – and I certainly – became inebriated enough to ‘go with the flow’ and by the end of the night we could have greeted one another by rubbing noses for all we cared, or indeed remembered. So I suppose under my cloud of lowered inhibitions I was one of the lucky ones – some people there didn’t drink at all. And if you’re stone cold sober, what the hell do you do if someone tries to greet you by rubbing noses?