Saturday, September 12, 2009

XXX: Dar besos y faire la bise

I struggled to get myself to the computer all week and actually write. In my head I had already composed a few posts, but the work at the keyboard still remained to be done. Why do I want to write? Random thoughts flow through my head all day. A sentence here, a funny quote, and few voices there. Sometimes I think, oh I have to blog about that. Even my husband now remarks during conversations, you should put that in a blog. And yet my hours teaching devour all my energy. So here it is Saturday morning and I'm committed to write a little something sweet before dogwalking, vacuuming, grading papers, or tangling with the high school's new on-line grade reporting program.

Why do I want to write? I write to discover my life.

The past seven days seemed to have been Snake Week in Quitman, but at the moment I don't have the stomach to go back through pages of serpent photos to illustrate the slithery creatures which crossed my path. Instead I have found a thread woven in and out of days for the past few weeks: kissing.

One morning I caught a story on NPR that the H1N1 virus was causing an uproar in France. It might spell the end for faire la bise. When I got to school I baited Monique, our native speaking French teacher, knowing that she would think this was the silliest thing she had ever heard. To understand the faire la bise, checkout the video.

Last night Papi told me that he had finally heard from his friend Ya Sé (literally, I Know Already, a nickname, but that has to be left for another post) who was living in Savannah and trying to save enough money to finish his degree at Georgia Tech. Ya Sé turned up in México at one of the universities in Chihuahua. He said he realized he both loved and hated a few things about being back in school in México. He couldn't stand the conviviality of lunchtime. He didn't want to share his food with anyone, and this goes quite against the custom of giving a taste to all who come around the table. Ya Sé, who never seems to have a girlfriend, was excited about the customary kisses in greeting. He really loved getting to kiss each woman he met on the cheek.

Apparently one of my new students, freshly transplanted from Cuba, didn't want to give up the greeting with a kiss. Although I translate into Spanish for Yasiel nearly everything I tell the other students in English, some cultural items I just gloss over. For instance, when we were discussing the greeting with cheek kisses, I just translated that we were talking about saludos con besos. I mean he already knows the custom, what else does he need to know? The next morning Yasiel was on his way into the classroom and I was keeping watch over the hallway. He walked up to me and leaned over, which to me meant he was going to whisper something he didn't want anyone to hear. But no, just as you guessed, he kissed my cheek. It took me a few minutes to regain my composure, but I did go in the room and explain to him that teachers and students don't greet this way. That night Papí told me, after he stopped laughing, that it was my mistake. It would not be unusual because the teacher student relationship is different in Latin America. High school students are treated more as adults. I guess I'll translate all the cultural stuff from now on.

La Bise en France
Uploaded by KingFish_XaX. - Discover more life & style videos.

1 comment:

  1. I guess there's something lost in translation - rather than kissing, it appears to be 'cheeking' with an air kiss.
    I think I'll stick with the hug - you do that when you feel it and everyone knows if its real by the warmth and pressure.