I have officially been living in a French city for half a year. Wow, I am just realizing that this is the first time I have actually calculated the amount of time that has passed since I’ve been here. Time really does fly – where did those six months go?
I’ve mentioned in some of my past posts that there have been quite a few changes that I have had to become comfortable with. Some things I was able to adapt to quite easily, such as the amount of wine an average Montrealer drinks (bottoms up!), and the amount of fine cheeses eaten on a weekly basis. Ok ok, maybe this isn’t typical for all Montrealers, but the people I have been spending my time with sure live up to the French stereotype as they really enjoy their wine and cheese.
One thing, one simple gesture really, that I have been struggling with the most, I like to refer to as “the French hello”. As I still consider myself new to this city, I am constantly meeting new people on a daily basis, whether it’s through a social gathering or randomly bumping into people on the street when out with my man. Meeting someone new can be a tad uncomfortable in any situation, correct? Yes, no? Well, for me it can be.
As much as I consider myself a cool cat that can connect with anyone, I can be a noob in the beginning. Examples include: not being able to think of a decent conversation starter and going straight to the generic and ever so dreaded, “so what do you do for a living?” Who actually wants to be asked this question? I know I sure don’t.
Now, before you even progress to the point in the interaction in which you begin asking said person these dreadful questions, you must surpass step one from the handbook of meeting and greeting someone in Montreal. Step one, the French hello: greeting with a kiss. Actually, not a kiss, not just one kiss, but two, one on each cheek, gracefully one after the other. Sounds quite simple, no? Well, let me tell you that after six months of living in this French city filled with many opportunities to perfect the French hello, I have yet to do so. I have spent months traveling and living in cities throughout Europe, where they also greet with kisses, and it seemed just fine back then. For some odd reason as soon as I am faced with knowing that I am about to have to greet someone new with a French hello, I choke. I become the noob that I can be and end up bumping faces with the other person, or going in too fast just to get it over with. Even worse – most embarrassing potential mishap of a French hello – when you both turn to kiss in the same direction and end up having to dodge the other person’s face so your lips don’t land smack dab on the other’s eye, ear or lips. Now, face all red, you must continue to stand there until the time comes to carry on with what you were doing prior to this extremely awkward hello.
Now this may all sound crazy to you, but I promise I am writing this from somewhere deep in my heart. The French hello is complex, and I am working hard each day to overcome this challenge. I dare you all to go out and try it yourself. Next person you meet, great them with a French hello and let me know how it goes for you. I’ll continue to keep you posted with my journey! Wish me luck.
Coat: Old Navy // Top & Trousers: Zara // Belt: DKNY // Shoes: Zara
Photography :: Luu Huy Danh Vo