I had forgotten that she doesn’t ‘do’ kissing.
Once I’d reassured her that my sexual preferences had not changed, I wondered what the etiquette was around greeting one’s friends. For two years I lived in Paris, where kissing was de rigueur yet still not without its pitfalls. You have to listen carefully to the accent of the person you’re meeting, in order to ascertain whether to touch cheeks once, twice or three times. There are even certain French towns where “chez nous, c’est quatre!” and the kiss lasts longer than any subsequent conversation.
Back in England I found it hard to lose the habit, much to the enjoyment of some (male) friends, and the confusion of others. Many of my friends were from the kissing contingent anyway, with a public school twist which saw a single or double cheek kiss accompanied by an elbow squeeze. Public school kisses however are strictly confined to the girls. The men greet each other with a firm handshake, occasionally followed by a peculiar move which is half hug, half back slap. Whatever they do, it is performed in an overtly masculine way far removed from their continental counterparts.
Nowadays my friends fall into three camps; those who kiss, those who hug, and those who find the prospect of physical contact positively unnatural. Which one are you?