29 November 2007

A Kiss Is Just a Kiss

Long time, no? Sì!
Original Photo by Patrick Pagnano for CBS News

No, I haven’t been in Havana. I’ve returned at last from my trip to the States, as ever an abundant source of material, though I had but little time for posting any blog entries. Nevertheless, at every stop along the way, I found myself saying, “I’ll have to post this on my blog.” The darnedest things turn out to be habit-forming.

Another darned thing is the bisou, the traditional French greeting and farewell, a quick kiss on each cheek. (In some parts of the country, one returns to the first cheek for a total of three bisous; the Parisian trend of going for four bisous in alternation has died out. It took too long. We’re a busy city. We have stuff to do.) I've been in France so long that the bisou is not just a habit but a reflex. A reflex that almost nobody in the United States expects. But I can’t help myself. The clash of cultures results in a sometimes painful butting of heads. To all those whom I assaulted, I apologize again.

Over the next few days, I hope to be posting a bit more, and the odds are that I’ll fudge the dates on some entries, just to flesh out the November pages — so look sharp. I’m especially pleased that my brother was able to scan one of the pictures of me with Fidel Castro, and I’ve updated my essay on him to include the picture. But it’s too good to use only once, and that’s why I put it here, too.

Let the record show that Fidel did not give me a bisou, just an abrazo.