Here’s a question intended for just male readers. Do you kiss the adult male members of your family (on the cheek, neck or lips)? Do you kiss your close male friends when greeting them or saying goodbye?
I cannot recall if my father did. I’m sure he kissed me when I was young, but did he continue to show such affection after my bar mitzvah, after I was 13 and presumed a man by Jewish custom? I cannot recall. Neither can my brother or sister.
Hugs. I cannot recall him hugging me as an adult. Bearhugs upon greeting or departing are common among men. They show affection beyond a strong handshake. I don’t recall receiving any bearhugs from my father or his brother, the sole survivor of their immediate family’s annihilation in the Holocaust. I don’t recall ever seeing them hug. Or kiss. Or hug or kiss any of their childhood friends from Ottynia who emigrated to America before and after the Holocaust.
Some years ago, at least a decade I would imagine, I became indoctrinated into the custom of kissing while embracing some of my close friends. It was awkward at first. Like my first time driving on the left side of the road in England. We hug. We kiss each other’s cheek or neck in a much more meaningful manner than the peck on the cheek one dispenses to a female friend.
I don’t hug and kiss all of my dear male friends. They or I sense it would be awkward. Neither party wants to initiate the exchange. So we shake hands firmly. Or just fist bump.
It was only after I was initiated into the kissing club that I started to kiss and hug my now 40-year-old son and son-in-law. I sense my son is still a little uncomfortable with it.
I am sure psychologists or relationship therapists could provide explanations why most men have not embraced the kissing embrace. I won’t insult them by offering my analysis.
I will, however, strongly suggest this world would be a far better and friendlier place if we all did a lot more fraternal, not sexual, hugging and kissing.