Greetings (i.e. to Kiss or not to Kiss)

Banjo    We take greetings for granted, but they are very cultural.

For example, this is my ten-year-old dog, Banjo. Every single morning, this is how he greets me, after my alarm goes off (first 5 seconds of, “If I Ruled the World” by Big Time Rush. But I digress.)

He doesn’t jump on the bed (although he has tried).

He doesn’t ignore me (although I would appreciate it).

He understands that I don’t like mornings and I don’t like to be hounded. 😉

He will absolutely not go outside until I rub him for a few minutes. Physical touch is a point of connection. Then it’s on to business.

Same with Southerners. Same with Yankees. But there are rules for each.


(Before I go on, this will seem like I’m kidding, but if you look, it’s the daggum truth. If it’s not the truth, chime in below and tell me what you see in your experience! )

Women greeting women for the first time – Smile, and nod, maybe someone will extend their hand, maybe not.

Women greeting women for the second time and on – Smile, nod, handshake.

Men and women greeting for the first time – Men wait to see if the woman reaches her hand out first and then he will. Men under the age of 35 might reach out first. There would never ever be under any circumstances a hug or physical contact.

Men and women greeting after the first time – Smile, nod, possible handshake. Normally, there is no hug. I have male friends for over 10 years and we will hug hello and goodbye but it’s not a hug, hug. It’s a meet at an angle, shoulder hug, no boobs involved point of contact.

Family greeting close friends or family – hug, no kiss, no boobs.


Women greeting women for the first time – total handshake for sure. Not really a kiss unless they moved down here in the past two years and are glad to know I’m “in their camp.”

Women greeting women past the first time – handshake and possible kiss on one cheek.

Men greeting women for the first time – Men will reach out first, but often the women are also reaching out. Eye contact is a MUST. Solid handshake a MUST. As in, you could lose respect, business, or a new friend if you give a fishy shake. Growing up, I was told it was sign of a weak character. Needless to say, I refrain from breaking fingers, but I have heard knuckles crack.

Men greeting women after the first time – Handshake, with either party initiating and a kiss on the cheek.

FAUX PAS TO AVOID- I have had Southern men who had some knowledge of Yankee land or  knew I was from the Northeast, reach out to shake my hand, pull me in, kiss my cheek and leave a wet mark of whisky or worse, moonshine.

Um. No. Ew.

Let me say. This is a very mutual, meeting in the middle, no one pulling anyone in, kiss nearly in the air. There is a finesse. It deserves to be practiced. Because there is nothing better than being in the south and getting or giving an authentic Yankee greeting.

No, I’m not giving lessons. Banjo, however, might oblige.

Thoughts? Am I close?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    May 17, 2013 @ 08:43:31

    I must agree. I’ve lived all over the world, but in the south for a large part of of my life. Southern “manners” are a mix of old time etiquette, and age old distrust of outsiders.

    There’s very little touching in public situations, especially in woman/woman or man/woman situations (family or not). Very strange indeed. After living in Europe and returning to Virginia, I was shocked by the lack of touching, even between children. Simple hand holding, even between girlfriends, was a no-no. Maybe Southerners don’t even trust each other. Lord knows what horrid thing hand holding could encourage!

    However, I believe most Southern reserve has to do with appearances. One must never appear too aggressive (males), overly affectionate (at risk of being “fresh”), too easy (females). It’s a long list. My own parents, one from Virginia and one from Texas, were not physically affectionate. They rarely hugged or kissed in front of anyone (including us kids), and certainly not in public. They rarely even hugged us. The big rule when I started dating – NO PDA. No public display of affection. I was told it would make me “look cheap”. Mercy. No wonder I’m such a mess.

    On the other hand, my Northern friends and relatives are outright overwhelming with their greetings and open affection – actions considered by hard-core Southerners as undignified and unrefined. You can imagine the raised eyebrows among the timid Southern branch at our family reunions.

    It’s also interesting to note that Southerns tend to stay put throughout their lives, where Northerners tend to be more mobile. Southerners tend to visit family and familiar Southern destinations (the lake, the coast) where they are surrounded by their familiar friends for vacation. Many more Northerners are “snowbirds” and head to warmer, Southern climes for their vacation. Native Floridians think of the winter migration as a Yankee invasion.

    Maybe history does have a bit to do with it. Yankee seem to have a deep seeded attitude of superiority and ownership wherever they go. Southerners tend to feel a bit defeated and distrusting of aggressive outsider from the get go. Old resentments die hard – old wars over lifestyle and heritage go on forever.


  2. Blue Eye Gravy
    May 17, 2013 @ 23:08:26

    Awesome insights here Linda! Thank you so much for verifying what I thought, heard, but didn’t want to say (out of respect). 😉 This was terrific and insightful! (except the superiority thing… I completely understand it, but I think it comes from an urban immigrant upbringing vs. a rural one. We’ll have to have tea or coffee over that one! Thank you again for taking the time to respond!


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