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French Kissing

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I … have a dream.

That one day I can walk into my office without having to kiss the cheeks of every last god damn mother fucker in here.

I used to love it. “La Bise” had its charm at one point, but this frogdition is forever spoiled for me now.

In America, this just isn’t done. If you move in to plant one on my cheek, my response will involve two things: your ass and my shoe. While you’re on the ground wincing, a single tear escaping from your eyes as you try to dislodge my Coq Sportif, I’ll wave my diamond in your face before leaving a hand-mark on your cheek. C’est la vie, buddy.

But over here, we play by a different set of rules. Pretending to kiss on the cheek is not just allowed, it’s obligatory. The kiss must go on, no matter what, no matter if I’m sick, no matter if you’re sick, no matter if we’re both sick, no matter if I have Ebola … you get the idea.

For some reason, sickness doesn’t factor in to people’s thought process when it comes to “La Bise.” They apply the Nike motto, slightly modified:

Just do it …
or I’ll assume that you’re an anti-social FREAK and forgiveness will be virtually impossible because you will have insulted me beyond all common offense, you disgusting, uncultured, fat, American, FOOL.

So when my colleague, we’ll call him Jean-Bise, decided to kiss me on the cheeks everyday for the rest of my career, I couldn’t say no. He doesn’t even do it properly. You’re not supposed to touch the person. They’re air kisses, and even that is too much for your average germaphobic American under normal circumstances.

But we are not living in normal circumstances. It’s the holidays, which means that everyone’s lips go into Bise Overload. I think I could get away with smooching Sarkozy as long as it was preceded with a cheerful “Bonne Année!”

Then it happened. Jean-Bise caught a cough so monumentous that I felt the urge to make him a crown, drop down on one knee and yell, “ALL HAIL THE PHLEGM KING whenever he entered the room.

Yesterday I heard him coming and managed to scramble to the bathroom, a narrow escape, but today I was not so lucky. He sneezed next to me so loud I nearly fell out of my chair. Visions of viruses were dancing in my head as I saw him walking towards me. I froze like a deer in the headlights.

His grinning, feverish face moved in slow motion toward my right cheek. My palms gripped the armrest, and my eyes closed tight, preparing for the attack. His microbe-ridden lips made contact and I wanted to take a bath in antibacterial gel.

I ran to the bathroom and fanatically smeared my face with hand soap, but the damage was done. I started to feel sleepy, and it went downhill from there. First, my larynx swelled to the size of Montana. My voice morphed into a mix between Marge Simpson and Barry White. Imagine some sort of demonic creature. My body decided that doing useful things like digesting food and creating energy were a waste of time; making snot was much more important.

I’m not anti-kiss-kiss, really, I’m not. My only request is that if you’ve got the sniffles, step off or I’m chillin’ out by your cubicle all day when I get swine flu.

I’ve no desire to spread my illness to every living soul I encounter, and this motivated me to commit the mother sin of all cardinal sins:
I refused to bise.

It was tantamount to telling someone they’re a bag of germs. I wish I could properly illustrate the look on people’s faces when I say, “I’m not going to kiss you, I’m sick.” It’s a cross between … “I am so revolted, it has struck me utterly speechless,” and, “You infidel, if you had balls, I’d be kicking you square in the middle of them right this moment.”

Apparently it’s poorly seen to try to preserve the health of others; they’d rather be ill than be refused my faux-smacks. If they want their kiss so badly, then they’re askin’ for it.

BISE-STRIKE = Officially OVER.

Pucker up buttercup.


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