From My Tuscan Window

Chapter 52
Dad’s Being Kissed by a Man!
Sue, Anne, and I, after the usual debate about where to eat lunch, decided on il Garfagnino which is just down at the bottom of the hill and to the left a kilometer or so.

The food there is nearly always excellent. In spite of the weak dollar, a huge meal consisting of a massive plate of pasta, a meat course, a vegetable course, homemade bread, wine and mineral water can still be had for only 10 Euro, which includes tax and service.

When I went in to pay the bill, I heard a voice cry out, and a young man came running over to me, grabbing me and kissing me on both cheeks before a large crowd of spectators. We had been outside eating on the terrazza, and when Anne heard the cry of greeting, she looked through the window into the dining room and exclaimed to Sue, “Dad’s being kissed by a man!”

It was our dear friend Fabio, who is slightly younger than Anne is and whom we have watched grow up from a tiny baby into a handsome young man. His mother and father owned the Valle Verde restaurant nearby until this past year when they retired and sold it to their son, Fabio.

Of course, Anne is quite used to seeing her dad being kissed by men and also kissing men, especially when first arriving in Gioviano each year. It is a ritual that takes some getting used to, especially the feel of bristly whiskers on my cheeks, but I suppose women have had to endure the prickle of whiskers for thousands of years so I shouldn’t complain.

Since I am partially ambidextrous, meaning that I am just a little on the spastic side, I get confused about which cheek to kiss first. Too often after first arriving in the village, I find myself flipping my head to the wrong side. The other poor man then attempts to figure out which cheek I am trying to kiss first, and we end up in a more compromising embrace.

I am not attempting to say that I am homophobic, nor would I pass judgment on men who enjoy kissing on the lips, but it is just not my cup of tea. So, this year I kept repeating to myself the proper method of greeting before entering the village where I knew several village men would be waiting to kiss us: “Turn head to right first, then kiss left cheek of man (or woman), then turn head in unison with other person to the left and kiss right cheek of man (or woman).”

This year I was very proud of myself because, after 33 years of Anne seeing her dad kissing men, she didn’t have to witness me making the wrong move at the wrong time and ending up lip to lip in a crowded restaurant.

Revised March 3, 2008
Copyright 2005-2006 George H. Russell
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